When I moved into management, I made so many mistakes. I lost relationships. I wasn’t firm, I avoided conflict, or I went on the extreme, came off too strong in an effort to overcompensate for it. It was the definition of a “hot mess”, but I “had to”, “needed to”, “wanted to”, … all of the things that you should really never do or think.
I really didn’t know my management style, I had an idea, but it never really sank in, and in the moment – the “right way” didn’t come up. Training only scratches the surface of what really happens – looking back, a bit of hand holding might have helped. But I also thought, asking for help made me look incompetent, so I went with trial and error.
The most common and hardest change for new managers is switching the mindset from contributor to leader. As a manager you help your team with “what” needs to get done and “why”, but the implementation, the “how”, is for your team. As a leader, you need to define the path ahead, and the right tools to get to the vision. The shift requires a new way of looking at the business, operations, your skills, responsibilities, and relationships.
Pressure to perform
Getting the position not just brings the responsibility of building a team, but also the internal pressure of performing – “showing that you’re worth the promotion!”.
Tip: Take the pressure off. You were promoted for a reason. Build your self-awareness to your own emotions, this will help you develop the emotional intelligence needed to connect and engage with your team. Leadership is a learning process and doesn’t come over night. Seek out opportunities to learn and develop and find a mentor to help you with growing into the role.
One of the growth pains of leaving the role as a contributor is “letting go”. Remember, your role is more about the “team” and people than the “how” and the details.
Tip: Stay focused on the big picture. Create a vision for you and your team. It’s never easy to find the right balance, between maintaining control, quality and getting the results. Building trust will take time, hand off small non-critical items, and create the space for both you and your team to grow.
Setting clear goals and expectations
As a leader, you need to define the path ahead, and the right tools to get to the vision. Your team needs to know what direction they are heading. If you were one of the team members or have never been in strategic planning. This is key to your team performance and productivity. Employees need to have a clear understanding of the collective vision and the goals and see themselves in the bigger picture.
Tip: Keep employees engaged and encourage a healthy feedback loop amongst the team. Communicate the expectations and help the team understand what’s expected of them, and how it ties back into the longer-term vision.