Moving up from team member to team manager is a big step. Sometimes we become our friends’ superior and other times we have to lead a group of people we don’t know. How are we supposed to deal with this transition while building and maintaining strong working relationships?
There are millions of books, articles, blog posts and even Tweets offering advice on how to be a great manager, but the best management knowledge comes from experience. Effective leadership skills can take years to mature, but we all need to start somewhere.
In any new job, your first port of call should be your new boss. Find out what he or she expects from you and how they can support you. Discuss any goals within the job and how decisions will be made and information shared. This would also be a good opportunity to ask questions about the organizational culture if you are new to the company, or if you are in the same company in a more senior position there may be differences. It is very important to learn about the culture and do your best to adapt to it; this will also help you to work with your new team.
Before you can start delegating tasks, you need to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Have an open discussion with them as a whole, detailing what your role will be and what you expect from them as well as asking what they expect from you. If there are to be any major changes, involve them from the beginning. Take time to meet with your team individually to discuss their work and their feelings on department operations. It’s always a good idea to schedule regular staff meetings with clear objectives; you will learn a lot about people’s working styles in this environment. Don’t forget to take the time to get to know the management team as well as you’ll need to collaborate with them. With all colleagues, show a sincere interest and be approachable.
One of the hardest things about being a new manager is finding the balance between boss and pal. The thing is, you are their boss and not their pal but you can be friendly. Many managers run the risk of letting the power go to their head or not embracing their authority. Both are major mistakes. Remember that it’s not about you; it’s about the success of the team. Make sure you understand the value of your team and give them space to fulfil their potential. On the other hand, if you struggle to adjust to having authority you need to find a way to become comfortable with it. Ensuring you know the organization you work for, what is expected of you and developing good working relationships with your staff will give you confidence in your ability to execute your role. You need to give your team direction and guidance, they rely on you drive projects forward. You wouldn’t have been hired if no one thought you could do it, give yourself time to settle into the role before you decide it isn’t for you. It may be helpful to remind yourself of the good and bad managers you have experienced and learn from their management styles. What made you want to work hard for them? What did they do that you didn’t like?
Finally, you need to manage yourself. Management jobs can be stressful but most companies will offer support. Look to people you have worked with before to share their experiences with you.
My advice for you in your new position as a manager? Take advice, and lots of it.
For extra confidence, there are a number of certifications available and case studies to read. APMG’s Change Management qualification offers theories about how change affects organizations, individuals and teams.
What do you think makes a good manager?