Whether you are becoming a first-time manager or you are a hiring manager that’s getting ready to promote someone, there are things you can do to make sure the transition to a new leadership role is successful.
As employees grow in their careers, they often get noticed by mastering technical expertise. Put simply, they are good at their job. As a result, they are often given additional responsibility or promoted to a position of leadership. As new managers, however, they will do less of what they were good at and are tasked with doing things that may be new to them. The need to demonstrate technical expertise every day will take a back seat to managing others to be productive.
So if you don’t already have those new skills, how do you acquire them? Before we get into that, let’s first take a look at how important these new leadership roles are for organisations.
The Impact Of Successful Leadership Transitions
The impact of leadership transitions is evident. It is also documented. A McKinsey & Company study shows:
Successful leadership transitions:
- Good leadership is 90 percent more likely to produce teams that meet performance goals over the next three years
- Good management leads to a 13 percent lower attrition rate among employees
Unsuccessful leadership transitions:
- Poor leadership results in 20 percent less employee engagement
- Poor management leads to 15 percent lower employee performance
Bad leadership hurts everyone. The same report reveals that nearly half of all new leadership transitions fail. With so much at stake, it may make you wonder why companies do not invest the time or resources into developing good leadership skills, especially for a new manager. In fact, less than 30 percent of companies have a formal leadership training plan in place. 58 percent of managers said they didn’t get any management training at all.
Successfully Transitioning Into A Leadership Role
Learning how to become a manager means placing value on different skills. If you’re a first-time manager, you will need to first understand the skills you need to learn in order to deal with the challenges you will face.
What do managers do? Here are the biggest challenges managers face, according to a study by Career Builder:
- Dealing with conflict among team members (25%)
- Motivating team members (22%)
- Handling performance reviews and corrective actions (15%)
- Finding resources needed to support team members (15%)
- Finding the next generation of leaders and supporting career paths for team members (12%)
Learning how to deal with the fundamentals of management will be key to productive teams and employee retention.
10 Things Successful Managers Do
You’ll notice that all of the five challenges above have to do with soft skills (or people skills). After all, your team members are people with emotions. Developing a good team atmosphere and culture are critical to success.
1. Take a breath
How many times have you thought, “Here’s what I would do if I was the boss,”?
Well, congratulations. Now you are. As a new manager, there is a tendency to want to jump right in and make changes. That can be a mistake, though. You will be viewing things from a different perspective. You will have access to the information you didn’t have in your old role that may lead to a different conclusion.
Take a breath. Your decisions need to be deliberate. Change for change’s sake rarely works.
As a first-time manager, you will be judged by co-workers and peers. Making mistakes right out of the gate is not a good way to develop confidence among your team members.
2. Avoid Being A Superhero
It’s important that you don’t micro-manage others. New managers tend to believe they can do it better than anyone else, so they sometimes just jump in and do the job themselves. While they may do it better than others, the job is no longer to do it.
Avoid the “superhero complex.” Because you know the job, it’s easy to jump in and save the day. This short-term success may inhibit long-term success. The job is really to teach others to do it better and develop strategies to improve the performance of others.
3. Stay Involved
Some managers go the other way, delegate everything, and want to sit in their office and ponder the future. It’s equally important you don’t remove yourself from the process altogether. This is a quick way to lose touch. You need to be involved in the process to see where improvements can be made.
Now that you are in charge, it’s your job to tell others what to do. With this new authority, new managers sometimes become dictatorial. They hand down edicts that subordinates need to follow. While it’s important to have rules and plans, it’s more important to lead your team.
Listening is critical. Even if you decide to discount what team members say, listening to their views demonstrates you value and respect them. A collaborative approach, acknowledging other views and building consensus, will always lead to a better culture.
5. Redefine (And Refine) Relationships
Moving from employee to manager can strain relationships. You can’t be their best friend anymore, but you can still be friendly. Building rapport and demonstrating you genuinely care about team members are essential.
6. Explain The Why
You need to take the time to explain the why behind decisions. You really don’t want people just blindly following rules. This can lead to poor decision making. You want them to understand the logic behind decisions and the long-term goals so that can apply the philosophy to daily activities.
7. Walk The Walk
Now that you are in a position of authority, people will take their cues from you. For example, if you expect everyone to show up on time for meetings, you need to make sure you are there on time as well.
8. Be Honest. Be Sincere
Maybe the most important thing you can do is be honest with people. If you don’t know something or don’t understand something, it’s OK to let others know. Nobody has all the answers. If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, or can’t share certain information, be genuine and tell people it’s not something you can talk about right now.
People can spot phonies a mile away. Be sincere and genuine.
9. Celebrate Successes
Make sure you take the time to celebrate successes along the way. Don’t take credit for the success personally. Give credit where credit is due. When the team wins, you win.
10. Praise Publicly. Discipline Privately
When you do offer praise, do it publicly so that others see you acknowledge success. This also demonstrates what you define as extraordinary and help others to model behaviour. If you have to discipline or counsel team members, do it privately to avoid embarrassing them in front of their peers.
Leadership Training For First-Time Managers
Developing new managers and the next generation of leaders is critical for businesses to survive. In today’s business environment, every organisation needs leaders that have a firm grasp on soft skills. They must be able to deal with conflict, motivate team members, and develop the next generation of leaders. They must be confident in their ability to objectively assess conditions and make solid decisions. Learning these skills will help you succeed as a manager. For you, it can help you grow in your career. For businesses, strong managers and leaders are a competitive advantage.