You’re there. You got the promotion that you wanted. You are now a manager, team leader or supervisor. Congratulations. You enter your new role full of excitement, maybe a bit apprehensive and full of ideas of what you will do.
However, as you settle into the role and your comfort zone is stretched fears and doubts start to creep in. This is normal. You are expected to perform at a different level and to use skills that you have limited experience and comfort of using. You need to work differently. This is a new beginning. Accept the challenge and follow these steps to help you manage the transition.
1. Clarify your role, responsibilities and priorities
You are in a new role and it is important that you have clarity of what is expected of you in this role. Organise a time when you can sit down with your manager and invest in a focused discussion to:
• Get a clear understanding of what is expected and not expected of you
• Know what success looks like and what you will be measured against
• Agree on what you need to do and what you need to let go off
• Agree on your priorities, tasks you must do and those to delegate to others
• Determine who you need to build relationships with, both inside and outside of the organisation
• Develop a clear map of the landscape you will be working in
• Create a plan for your next 100 days
A common mistake that new managers make is wanting to hold on to what they know, are comfortable with and good at (i.e. their previous job).
2. Develop your personal development plan
Determine the skills, behaviours, knowledge and approach you need to increase your effectiveness in the role. A development plan will give you direction, focus and confidence to navigate this new landscape.
• Create a list of skills, behaviours, knowledge that you need
• Describe what effective means for each one
• Determine where you are on the effectiveness scale, get feedback from your manager and from others who know you; complete a profiling tool that will provide you with information and be honest with yourself
• Ask yourself how can I deliver at this required level consistently?
• Prioritise areas to develop
• Agree on different learning approaches, examples include attending a training programme for new managers, coaching, mentoring, regular feedback
• Action it and do
All true managers and leaders are committed to a process of self-discovery and continual learning throughout their lives.
3. Meet with your team and each team member individually
This is new and different for your team members too. They have their questions, concerns, fears. Organise a meeting with your team to share and discuss how you will work together as a team:
• Listen to them to understand and acknowledge their concerns and needs
• Listen to learn what will help support them and create the right conditions to enhance their engagement
• Listen to their ideas, thoughts and challenges.
Don’t make the mistake of coming in and trying to change the way things have been done immediately. This may lead to resentment.
Organise one-to-one meetings with each team member.
• Establish boundaries (this is important particularly if you were previously peers/friends and now you are the manager)
• Find out what each person likes and dislikes, their strengths, their needs, their challenges
• Ask what they need from you as their manager
• Be fair and consistent
4. Communicate and Build Rapport
Communicate and build rapport with people at all levels within the organisation. Treat each conversation as a learning opportunity:
• What can I learn from them today?
• What hadn’t I seen or considered?
• What do I know that I can share that will benefit or support them in their role?
Build networks at all levels. This will help you build trust and respect.
5. Be open to learn
Mishaps will happen, errors will be made, you will get stuck and not know the answers, you will be outside of your comfort zone.
Reframe all of these as learning opportunities. Do not make the mistake of going back into your comfort zone and do the jobs that you know how to do and are comfortable doing. If you do, the learning opportunity will have passed you by. The most effective leader is the one who is able to be vulnerable and swallow their pride:
• Acknowledge what you don’t know
• Acknowledge your discomfort and that this is a learning opportunity for you
• Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help and support
• Update your development regularly so that you can see, feel and measure the progress you are making each step along the way
As Wayne Gretzky (hockey player) said: “You miss 100% of shots you don’t take”. Have the courage to take the risk and ask yourself what can I learn from this?
Dymphna Ormond is an IMI associate who teaches on Front Line Management and Essential Skills of Management programmes. Dymphna has over 14 years of experience designing and delivering training that engages, challenges and stimulates the thinking of participants. Her areas of expertise and interest are in employee engagement, leadership and management skills, presenting and communicating with impact.