One of the first things I remember when I got my new job as a manager is the constant flow of congratulations, emails, smiley faces, likes, endorsements and even a salary raise together with a slightly bigger office.
The second thing relates to the following weeks when I was spending evenings searching, reading and asking about what were the things that I should do differently from what I did as an individual performer.
Books, business articles, business magazines, leadership courses and advice from senior managers. They all helped me figure things out but I can tell you it was no easy job. It seemed to me a never ending list.
If this image looks familiar to you, here are critical things to watch for as a new manager:
- Build personal credibility
It is always a good idea to initiate conversations with team members to clarify your new role, main objectives and agree on a way to communicate and collaborate in the future. This will give you the chance to show commitment and prevent any misunderstandings and misperceptions about your role inside the team. Inform the team of actions you take on their behalf even if you can’t always get what they request. Being open and honest builds credibility.
- Engage management support
Team leaders and newly appointed managers who focus only on the needs of the team overlook a key ingredient for early success: meeting the business needs of their managers. Aligning your priorities with those of your manager helps in building a partnership that can secure needed resources and support for you and your team.
- Go slow in order to go quickly later on
“I felt energized and motivated by the new position as finally I got the chance to change everything...but it proved too hard” – this is one of the lines I hear when having a chat with managers no matter the industry or department.
Start slow, focus on balancing the usual tasks with the new ones, change one thing at a time. Remember that it is always useful at the beginning to under-promise and over-deliver at least until you master the balance of individual tasks and team related ones.
- Ask for constant feedback
Leading others is also about being open to adapt your style to the team and environment in order to achieve results. Ask others including team members, managers and peers for their feedback rather than waiting for it in order to understand how others perceive your actions and if there are any gaps between you intentions and the effect on others.
“What got you here won’t get you there” is the title of Marshall Rosenberg’s book on leadership. To be successful in this new role you must improve the level of your interpersonal skills: communication, dealing with conflicts, coaching or influencing are some examples. Look for training sessions, books and self-assessment tools outside you comfort zone and decide the things that best fit your situation. The more you develop yourself, the more you can help others develop, which is in fact one of your most important objectives as a manager.
Project Management and Soft Skills Specialist