How to Go from an Individual Contributor to a Manager
The old: You are assigned your projects and assignment; you are responsible for your work and your own delivery. You influence and negotiate, but the team performance is based on the manager.
The new: You are responsible for multiple portfolios; your work is no longer based on your work effort and has to be done through others. You are expected to deliver, keep the team engaged, manage expectations, keep clients happy and do this all through others.
According to an article appearing in the Harvard Business Review, becoming a manager for the first time is arguably one of the most significant challenges in anyone’s career path. The transition typically demands a complete overhaul of your approach and how you work—and sometimes you may have to learn a set of new skills.
It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the increased responsibility and performance-demanding nature of a managerial role—especially when you don’t have prior experience supervising others.
5 Tips to make the jump…
- Own your style: Learn from others around you, but don’t try to be them. There will be a lot you don’t know or think you know. When you first move into the role, it will feel awkward, uncomfortable, or maybe a bit of exhilarating flow of excitement/and power. Be authentic and develop your own leadership style.
- Trust your team and delegate Away: Your years of grinding as an individual contributor likely honed you into a well-versed expert. Folding up your sleeves and taking on a task may seem like second nature—but resist the urge. Walk away from doing the tasks and delegate. Let it go…
- Be flexible and Adapt: You will need to move from tactical to strategic. Understand where the overarching company direction, and what role your team plays. While you will need to be resourceful, you aren’t expected to have all the answers or the skills from day 1. Put your hand up and ask for help. As an individual contributor, you were probably used to doing things your way to come up with the answers. You will need to evolve your thinking to collaboratively seek team input on decisions and best next steps.
- Nail Your Time Management Skills: Time management skills are inherently important in any role. But more significant in a managerial position. You typically have a lot to juggle—including strategic thinking, monitoring budgets, review performance, reporting to top management, and supporting your team, among other responsibilities.
- Build relationships at all levels: The role of the manager is cross-functional. You will deal with various stakeholders and will need to be able to move barriers for your team. Surround yourself with a strong network. Leadership roles can often feel lonely. Leadership is built on relational interactions. True transformation, influence and connection comes through trust and relationships. Create opportunities to build key networks and connections.