So you’ve been given a new title, a pay rise, a handshake and a friendly “good luck.” But do you really feel prepared for your first Management job? A 2016 survey of 500 managers from micro-learning platform Grovo found that 44 percent felt unprepared for their role; and a further 87 percent wished they’d had more training before becoming a manager.
So does this suggest that businesses are not training new managers enough? Have I got you thinking about your training so far? Are you ready? Do you FEEL ready? I don’t think the issue is a lack of training, more the wrong type of preparation.
Notice I said preparation and not training there. Developing as a manager is more than simply attending a training course. Going from an individual contributor to a manager can be one of the most difficult and stressful times in a person’s career. It’s a time where you have to do more than just learn new skills, you also have to completely rethink the way you work.
What the hell is being a manager all about?
Unfortunately, what made you successful as an individual contributor isn’t necessarily going to make you successful in a management position. A leader is “a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal”. You didn’t have to do that before did you? “Influence a group of people towards the achievement of a goal”. You use to do stuff in order to achieve that goal. Now fundamentally you need to enable other people to do that stuff instead. Which seems to be the opposite of what you’ve done, and how you got here in the first place!
One of the most common things that people do when they become the boss is still do employee tasks. That kind of work is supposed to be done by your team, and you are supposed to do boss work! What is this boss work then? I like this simple model from Professor Graham Jones. Leadership (and the boss work) is about
Setting out a Vision which shows what you are trying to achieve
Providing your team with the Support they need to do their bit towards achieving that vision
Balancing that Support with the right amount of Challenge to keep people on track
So from day one, have this in your mind. No longer are you setting goals and expectations for yourself – you are doing it for your team. The next step may be the most difficult. Realise that to get other people to do what you ask, you firstly need to think long and hard about yourself. You can’t make other people change, but you can change yourself to elicit a different response from them.
What am I all about?
The hard truth is that you first need to gain an understanding and control of yourself before you can start influencing other people – Self Awareness. Self-awareness is being conscious of what you’re good at while acknowledging what you still have yet to learn. It’s almost impossible to become self-accepting if you are unsure as to who you are.
Knowing ourselves, and accepting ourselves can empower us to make changes and to build on our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make improvements. You’ve made that step from being a successful individual contributor to being a Manager. It is perfectly natural that you’re going to need to learn new skills. You have a new job that requires alternative skills. It’s just, the skills for this job are not technical nor functional. They are soft skills such as listening, empathy, communication, influence…
Once you understand yourself in terms of these skills, the next step to make is to consider your impact on other people. As a Manager your effectiveness is how well you get stuff done through your team. You know you need to use these soft skills to get stuff done. But how good are you at that? Or in other words, what is your impact on other people? How well are you using those soft skills to persuade your team members to do what they need to do?
What do I stop doing and start doing?
Remember the key is to move away from doing the tasks you used to do, and move into your management role. This means shifting both physical tasks, but also (and more importantly) a mindset change. It is our attitudes and beliefs that drive our actions, so focus on shifting your mindset and beliefs. From individual contributor to Manager. Here are some practical steps you could take to help you with this shift:
- Within your first few weeks, set up regular one-on-ones with your team and have a shared calendar.
- Clarify expectations with your boss. You may have a new boss, but you will certainly have new expectations and goals to achieve.
- Clarify expectations and goals with your team, then use the one to one meetings to keep everyone on track.
- Stop doing and start delegating. Do not underestimate the time you will need, so don’t keep hold of old tasks. Use the time to train other people to do them, and delegate.
- Let Go! You’ll see people doing things in different ways than how you did it. Unless it is fundamentally unsafe or wrong, don’t insist on things being done in the way you used to.
- Don’t develop a “DIY” mentality. You want to prove yourself in the role, but be careful not to try to do as much as possible yourself – the same as they did when you were an individual contributor.