Welcome to Your New Managerial Position

new manager figuring out management

When The New Year Brings New Responsibilities

You have been consistently climbing the hierarchy at your job, demonstrating your technical proficiency and distinguishing yourself as a rising star. Once that rising star ascends into the management constellation, what should you expect?

According to the latest Gallup Poll, 60% of employees would trade a raise not to work with their manager anymore. And 70% of employees are still disengaged or actively disengaged. Management and leadership skills are key to turning around productivity and motivation.

So all of those hours coding, executing assignments, and producing whatever deliverables were asked of you have paid off; you are a “high potential” and now you get to run the whole show. What will you do to motivate and inspire your team? It is time to draft a plan and mobilize your resources. As you prepare to lead, consider:

Administrative Tasks Will Demand Your Time

There will be the new component of increased administrative work, such as status reports, human resources forms, and audit compliance tasks. These tasks will always be part of your job description. Now that it is here, know that this administrative work is a necessary part of keeping the gears moving within your organization. (And now you know that someone was doing it on your behalf all those years before now.) Viewing it as a task to go ahead and check off early in the day when your energy is high is a more potentially successful and satisfying strategy than squeezing it in when all you want to do is call it a day.

In addition, as someone freshly arrived to the administrative component of your new position, you may unearth obstacles to efficiency or opportunities for consolidation of outmoded processes that others have stopped “seeing.” Share your feedback with your leadership; yours may be the prompt they need to reassess some time wasters.

People Management Demands Will Multiply

When the names in the boxes on the organizational chart turn into real live people depending on you for guidance, evaluation, and direction, you have found the heart of the difference between your previous position and your new one. Now that you are managing, the demands for you to relate are many. Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malone, Wanda Orlikowski, and Peter M. Senge say the following about relating: “Traditional images of leadership didn’t assign much value to relating. Times have changed…and in this era of networks, being able to build trusting relationships is a requirement of effective leadership.” The number one piece of advice to heed when it comes to people management is: do not allow situations to fester in airless darkness. Be direct, be proactive, value the fact that relating brings with it as big a return on investment as many of your tangible business efforts will.

You Are Not Sure You Will Ever Get To Do What You Love Again

You don’t have to let the requirements of all that administrative work and people management completely displace your connection to the work you love that got you to this place. Paul Glen recommends allowing “indulgences,” meaning you should allow yourself to continue to dabble in the topic that propelled you up the leadership ladder. He continues, “New managers need the opportunity to occasionally dabble in their former work. Let them code just a little” and “revisit the glory days.”

Everyone Wants Something From You

Being in a position of leadership puts you squarely in the middle of various sets of expectations: your employer, your employees, your vendors. You may feel like an impostor, with a spiffy new title on the outside and the same old practitioner mindset on the inside.

Your former peer now wants a day off when you need him or her to be heading up a new initiative. A subordinate is upset that the revised office floor plan results in less window space. There are rumbles of dissatisfaction from various corners of the building about matters from the trivial to the serious. You may be feeling “this is not what I signed up for.” When encountering issues based on people’s needs, address them while they are small. It is natural for some first-time managers, especially if they do not have formal management training, to think “it will sort itself out” or “it’s not that big a deal.”

There is a component of management that is not delineated in black and white on the strategic plan: the discipline of building connectedness. As Kouzes and Posner say in Encouraging the Heart, “We need to feel connected to others and, in turn, they to us, because greatness is never achieved all by ourselves alone.” Fostering connectedness is as critical as bringing in a new client, writing the perfect program, or staying within budget. If nurturing connectedness makes you anxious, engage a mentor who can help you figure it out.

Remember Who You Are

Despite the additional administrative work, the challenges of managing people, and the distance from being able to practice your skill set, you still owe it to yourself to keep the spark of your individual assets alive. It is easy to get subsumed by the cascade of competing demands. Be deliberate about remaining true to the professional and personal identity you are carving out for yourself.

How Will January 2020 Look?

Ask yourself what you want the people you are now managing to feel about their first “year in review” as your employee. There’s every reason to believe they can feel inspired, motivated, and engaged rather than demoralized, deflated, and disconnected.

Five Strategies to Help You Manage Well Without Authority

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Sandra came to me with questions about a new project she had been assigned to lead. She would be responsible for her teams’ performance for the new initiative but was concerned about how to keep the individual members motivated since they would not be reporting to her directly. How could she manage well without authority?

“I’m not responsible for their careers,” she explained. “I’m not responsible for their performances beyond the project outcomes, so I don’t have the usual fears or promises of promotions as motivators. I’m not sure how to make this work,” she stated.

The situation my client described is a typical scenario. An increasing number of companies today use the matrix model of management, managing employees with more than one reporting line, or across business groups. Under these circumstances, team leads are responsible for team performance in the project outcomes but have no other authority. As in Sandra’s situation, the inherent challenge is to engage and motivate employees who report to someone else.

As I say in my book, “The New Global Manager,” you must accomplish your mission through the group. People say this in many different ways. They say you must “make your numbers” or “hit your targets” or “achieve your goals.” However you describe it, you must do it through your team. So, you need to help the people who are on your team grow and succeed. Great managers have always been coaches and mentors. They’re always looking for ways to help their team members do better in their present job and prepare them for their next move.

‘Leadership without authority’ is an emerging concept gaining traction in social, academic and business circles,” writes Russ Banham. “In fact, type those three words into Google, and more than 6.5 million results pop up. A shelf of books has been written on the subject, and courses are even being taught to achieve its graces. Not only that but leading without authority has been espoused by such diverse organizations as the American Chemical Society and the National Center for Cultural Competence,” he adds.

How do you lead without authority?

The goal of leadership without authority is to get others to willingly cooperate and engage, rather than following directives because you’re the boss,” writes Carol Kinsey Goman. “This new style of leadership is a blending of personal and interpersonal skills that form the basis of a leader’s ability to impact, influence, and inspire others.”

As I explained to Sandra, managing well without authority is entirely possible–and people do it all the time these days. We all have certain levels of influence in our work. Some have the influence that ties to their position; some have authority based on their expertise or resources. And everyone can develop influence by building strong relationships. In situations like Sandra’s, relationships are central to the success of her project. I gave Sandra the following five strategies to help her manage her project team.

Five strategies to help you manage without authority

1. First of all, you need to understand what motivates the team. What is each team member’s motivation for being successful? One may be driven by the promise of earning more money, while another is excited to be able to make contributions. Are your team members motivations intrinsic, meaning that he or she will take action because it is personally rewarding, or are they extrinsic? “Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment,” writes Kendra Cherry.

2. Create visibility for your team. Talk to the managers who are responsible for your team members’ careers about what they’re doing. Find ways to support and praise the team publicly. Advocate for them and help create visibility company-wide.

3. Hold discussions with the team at the outset. Set the expectations about communication channels; how you will communicate with each other and how the team is expected to communicate with you. Explain what hours you expect they will be available and what channels they will use to reach you. Be specific about the kind of information you expect to receive and how frequently you anticipate hearing from them. Make it clear that you are very interested in keeping communication open at all times.

4. Define the roles and responsibilities for your team. Take the time to represent what you expect from each of them clearly, and tie those expectations into the motivators you have determined will be effective for each person. Establishing clearly defined roles and responsibilities lessen the chances of duplication of effort or frustration between the various people you are managing on the project.

5. From the beginning, help the team understand that you’re willing to support their image and brand. Be transparent. Let them know that you will foster, network and generally be supportive of them, so they know that they’re not working in an isolated bubble. Remind them that just because they aren’t reporting to their manager for this project doesn’t mean there isn’t company-wide visibility, organizational visibility and their reputation at stake. Help them understand that their behavior and their performance in this project can and will impact them positively or negatively in the larger company setting.

Sandra took these strategies into her work on the new project and was able to build significant relationships with each of her team members. She reported that they were nearing completion and had every expectation of hitting most of the project expectations successfully. She was also pleased to report that she had already been instrumental in helping further several of her team members’ career goals, and she felt very good about that.

Would you like a summary of my management rules in a pdf format? Join my online global leadership community.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: 123rf.com

Best Practices for Managing Dispersed Teams

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You manage a team of people who are working from multiple locations and time zones. Initially, everything looked really good. You developed the project plan, created timelines, task lists and met with the team to kick the project off.

And it was a really strong start–at first.

But after awhile your team members lost energy, stopped hitting it out of the park and began to miss meetings. And now you’re concerned. You’re looking for solutions, for tips or ideas on how to get the project back on track and manage your dispersed teams successfully.

For someone who is managing a virtual team, this is a familiar story.

Leading a virtual group can present real challenges. Maintaining clear communication, engagement, and focus can be tough. And, for more and more managers this is a daily reality as the number of companies with remote workers continues to grow. “Despite occasional stories of a company ending its remote work program, the long-term trends all show steady growth in the number of people working remotely,” writes Sara Sutton Fell, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs.

According to a recent study published by Upwork.com; globalization, skill specialization, and agile team models will change the workforce in the next ten years. The second annual Future Workforce Report found that 63 percent of companies have remote workers but more than half – 57 percent – lack the policies to support them.

But, as I’ve said before, leaders are discovering innovative ways to rally and connect teams no matter how far away they are from each other. Whether or not actual policies exist, there are best practices for leading a team of remote workers successfully and building a sense of trust, belonging, and commitment to the team, the project, and the organization.

In my workshops about building and leading effective virtual teams, one of our first activities is designed to increase awareness of virtual team characteristics and complexities. We talk about what works well and what must be done to achieve positive results. Over the years I have learned some of the best practices for managing dispersed teams. Let’s a take a look at three of them.

Create Context

As the leader, it’s your job to provide the context for the team. In addition to sharing the project specifications and requirements, you need to paint the big picture for them and bring the importance of their roles to the forefront. Help your employees understand, not only what their roles are, but why they matter–and why each of them benefits individually from being truly engaged in the team goal overall.

While this may sound like Leadership 101, a dispersed team needs help understanding the company’s vision, the purpose of the project, and behind-the-scenes information they miss by working at a distance from the home office. Teams need to know exactly how they are expected to collaborate. Remember, working remotely, while offering fantastic benefits to both employees and organizations, can provoke feelings of isolation and disconnection.

As part of creating context, set clear and measurable performance goals and make sure your team understands how those goals figure into the project and the organization’s plans as a whole.

It’s on you, as their leader, to help the members of the group connect the dots, get to know you and each other and feel like part of a team, working together toward a common purpose.

Communicate, Maybe Even Over-Communicate

Communication is one of the first things to go in a virtual team setting. The inability to read non-verbal clues presents hurdles to dispersed team members that don’t exist for in-person teams. It’s all too easy to misunderstand a text or email because virtual communication lacks the non-verbal clues we get from face-to-face interaction. It’s better when communication is through video chatting tools like Skype or Slack.

Since 55 percent of communication is non-verbal, 38 percent is para-verbal (how you sound), and 7 percent is verbal, removing 93 percent of the context of communication forces a disproportionate dependence onto the verbal spoken word. Also, physical distance can contribute to avoidance of conflict, and it’s easier to default to “dealing with it later” if an exchange was tense or unclear. If you don’t handle a conflict proactively, unresolved negativity can fester.

So set up the ground rules with regular check-ins using a video conferencing tool. And make a point of meeting face-to-face at least once during the project–that contact will increase your team’s productivity by as much as 50 percent. Remember this guideline: Make a point of intentionally connecting with the people on your team three times as often as you do with the people you see spontaneously in the office. This effort will pay off for you in increased engagement and strong connections with each of your team members.

I like to remind people of the ten times rule: phone calls are ten times more effective than email (or text), and face-to-face communication is ten times more effective than a phone call. So just remember, “ten times, ten times, ten times” on the communication front.

Cultivate Community and Respect

We all work better when we feel like we are part of something larger. In addition to creating context, cultivate a feeling of community for your team. Develop a strategy to pull each of the team members into the group and then cement that feeling of community by acknowledging the team’s efforts and celebrating its successes. Work to develop a feeling of trust between you and your team and between the team members themselves. Building trust in virtual teams involves two different types of trust: cognitive (in team members’ heads) and affective (in team members’ hearts.)

Take the time to nurture these new relationships and try to understand what motivates each of your employees to perform well. Ask them what they consider appropriate incentives, and what aspects of the project they find compelling.

Make a point of being accessible to the team, and allow one-on-one time for each of your employees. Be considerate of their obligations, work commitments, and especially the time zones they are working in. Set meetings and calls as thoughtfully as your own schedule allows, and include group meetings on a regular basis as a way of touching base and offering encouragement.

Ask your team for feedback. What works for them? What isn’t working? What can you improve or create differently? If you encourage feedback and listen thoughtfully, not only will you learn important information about your employees and the project, but you may also find new leaders within the group; people you can work with and those you may promote for future leadership roles.

Be respectful of the individual group members and the team as a whole. This feeling of respect and community will go a long way toward building trust, and engagement, from a team that takes pride in delivering top-notch performances.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com

Photo: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Are You A First-Time Manager? Here Are 5 Essential Tips for Success!

First time Manager

Being promoted to your first management position is exciting–but it can be difficult. The transition from employee to first-time manager (FTM) is riddled with challenges, everything from establishing yourself as a strong but approachable leader to doing your own work and also managing a team efficientlyStudies have shown that 47 percent of managers don’t receive any training when they take a new leadership role.

Becoming a manager is one of the most stressful and challenging transitions in any career,” writes William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders. “But when you become a manager, everything about your job needs to change–your skill-set, the nature of your work relationships, your understanding of what “work” is, and how you see yourself and your organization. You have to operate from a brand new script, one that’s about “we”–ensuring collective success,” he concludes.

I agree completely. And I’d like to share five tips from my new book, The New Global Manager (available Summer 2018) to help first-time managers move into this new leadership role.

1.Give timely and constructive feedback.

A good manager provides employees with feedback about his or her performance. Learn to use your observational and communication skills to help your team understand what they do well and where they need to improve.

Tip: Keep two things in mind–first, make sure you’re clear in your intention. Tell the recipient the purpose of your comments, whether it is to grow, improve their image, or protect them. Second, don’t talk about hearsay or feelings. Stick to observable facts.

2. Empower the team and don’t micromanage.

You empower your team when you establish clear communication and expectations. As Gordon Treegold, founder and CEO of Leadership Principles writes, “…empowering people and giving them the opportunity to contribute and to solve problems opens us up to the collective knowledge we have…”

Tip: Take the time to learn your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and then let go. Begin to delegate work to them, and provide subtle direction if needed. But allow them to handle the project in their own way within the established parameters.

3. Express interest and concern for your team.

Showing an employee you care is an integral part of building rapport and stable working relationships with your team members. “Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their leaders are infinitely more likely to go above and beyond for the company and hold themselves accountable for their part of a project,” writes John Hall in an article for Forbes.

Tip: Listen with your full attention directed toward understanding what your coworker or staff member needs from you,” writes Susan M. Heathfield, “Many managers, especially, are so used to helping people solve problems that their first course of action is to begin brainstorming solutions and giving advice.”

Your team may need to know you are really hearing them before you supply solutions. Make sure you understand what the person is telling you and reflect back the information you believe you have heard during the conversation.

4. Model a productive and results-oriented mindset.

Developing a productive and results-oriented mindset in your organization can yield increased job satisfaction and engagement levels and reduce turnover. By modeling this mindset for your team, you start that process.

Tip: Create results-oriented goals for yourself and for your team and model what working on projects where you can measure results looks like. Turn everything you do into a case study and sit down with your team to review and measure the results you have obtained. Give your team results-oriented goals and encourage them to find ways to measure and report on their outcomes.

5. Be a good communicator and share information.

A manager doesn’t have to be dynamic and charming–just highly communicative and transparent. Let your team know to anticipate changes, let them know what’s happening in your management meetings, and provide company updates. The more you communicate, the more trust will be built and the team will see you as an ally instead of an authoritarian.

Tip: Use part of your team meetings to discuss strategy and bigger goals for the organization as a whole. Take questions from your team members. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but will do your best to find out.

If you are a first-time, newly-minted manager: Congratulations! You will be amazing. Take the five tips I have just described and use them in your new position. You will find each of them valuable as you negotiate this new chapter of your life.

And join my community to get first dibs on my new book for managers, due out later this year.

Do These 3 Things and Transform Your Virtual Workforce

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The shape of organizations worldwide is changing. The virtual workforce is almost more common than not these days. In fact, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, published in 2017, “…from 2012 to 2016, the number of employees working remotely rose by four percentage points, from 39 percent to 43 percent, and employees working remotely spent more time doing so.”

There are plenty of reasons for this rapid growth–extended market opportunity; increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, and synergy; access to a broader pool of talent; better effort, performance gains, and job satisfaction; and more cost savings.

But for all the positives, certain negatives come with not sharing a physical space with your team and colleagues. “When it comes to virtual teams, if you’re out of sight, you’re also out of mind. While more and more people are working remotely, our recent study suggests that unless we take extra measures to build trust and connection with colleagues, we pay dearly for doing so,” write Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

The truth is, no one has truly figured out how to lead a dispersed team smoothly, but we’re getting closer. Leaders are discovering innovative ways to rally and connect remote teams no matter how far away they are from each other.

Here are three actions successful leaders are taking to manage the virtual workforce efficiently–no matter how far-flung.

1. Create context.

Context is the foundation from which we derive meaning from what other people say. In the past, members of a team would see each other every day, know what was going on in each other’s personal and professional lives, and be aware of each other’s thoughts on happenings large and small. In today’s virtual workforce environment–not so much. Often, team members are mostly strangers to one another and may feel disconnected from the overall team or company vision.

So leaders need to help individuals and teams in the virtual workforce see the reason why they need to care about the project and their part in it. They need to be sure to voice the overall vision and share the company, team, and individual goals. They need to be explicit about why the team is working together and how it aligns with business goals.

Leaders need to pinpoint how each team member will collaborate and what’s in it for each region, area, or individual. If the leader doesn’t know, they need to hold a conversation and ask their team members why this project is important to them. What benefit do they see to themselves and others? And, then they need to ensure needs and desires are being met.

2. Cultivate community.

People work harder when they feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Thus, an effective virtual team leader works to create a team community and identity. This can be done with physical objects, like T-shirts or pictures. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. I had a colleague in San Francisco who had a dressed up banana for the team mascot. People loved it!

Or it can be done with more creative concepts, such as developing a project slogan or name. For instance, if your project is dealing with the government or is particularly sensitive, you could call it “Project House of Cards.” Or people could be given nicknames based on their roles or strengths.

It’s also essential for leaders to create expectations around communication. What’s going to be your primary mode of talking with one another–chat, Slack, phone, or email? Will you always use video for conference calls? Do you have contact hours to accommodate team members who work in different time zones? Is the team expected to meet face-to-face once a quarter?

Leaders also should provide guidelines to support the team’s well-being. For example, don’t schedule meetings in the middle of the night for those who live halfway around the world. Or don’t ping a teammate with an urgent request on the weekend. This is very important for fostering a culture of respect, as well as one that supports a balance between work and life.

3. Celebrate successes.

Unfortunately, in a lot of organizations, you only hear from others when there’s bad news or criticism. But this type of culture is a death knell to morale and productivity. An effective way to lead virtual teams is to ensure all successes are celebrated. You can even devise a systematic approach to honor them with a weekly award or special meeting.

In addition to creating an environment where successes are shared, effective leaders also make clear how to advocate for these wins. They promote their team members to others within the organization and help their teams learn how to promote themselves.

The positives of leading virtual teams far outweigh the negatives–and by taking these three actions, you and your team will experience far fewer bumps along the road. And, if you need help with your team? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image: “Working at Home,” Michael CoghlanCC 2.0

 

Top 3 Reasons Why Your Team is Underperforming

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One of the things that keeps a manager up at night is wondering why the team is underperforming. The well-known secret to success is a high-performing team–one with members whose talents and skills complement each others’, challenge one another, and collaborate to achieve a common goal. But creating and sustaining a high-performing team isn’t easy.

In my work with clients like LinkedIn and SAP, I’ve discovered the three components absolutely necessary for developing this essential unit–no matter where the organization is, its size or function.

If your team lacks these three things, you’ll be hard-pressed to achieve the results you want.

1. Open communication.

Communication is vital to any relationship, and a cohesive team is, really, a network of close relationships. Research from MIT shows that 40 percent of creative teams’ productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others.

So, regular open and honest communication at all levels is a must. Give frequent and specific updates to all members, so no one is left out of the loop.

You must educate your team members on what other parts of the unit are doing and are responsible for to ensure their work is supporting other functions. Make everyone feel included, and the floor should be open for anyone to contribute to discussions at any point. Boundaries and territories don’t exist in successful teams.

Also, address any conflict immediately. An exercise one of my clients uses with her partners includes a “conflict circle” held at the beginning of every team meeting so the team can discuss issues before they bubble up into crises.

2. Shared goals.

All high-performing teams know what they’re working for. Goals are outlined and clearly defined ahead of time. Questions high-performance teams answer before pursuing a project include–what are the objectives? How do they align with the organization’s mission or strategy? And, what is the team’s vision?

One study by Accenture found that high performing teams that are aligned with business strategy will achieve superior results in key business performance drivers.

3. Defined roles.

One of the reasons why there is such low engagement in the workforce (just 32 percent in American according to Gallup) is because people don’t feel like their jobs or roles have a purpose. Defining how one’s part is integral to achieving the shared goals negates this.

So, along with defining the goals, you must work with the team to define everyone’s function. People feel pride and ownership when they have real responsibility.

When outlining professional roles, it’s also important to understand personality types. By this, I mean, everyone brings a different perspective to the table. It’s important to honor and respect these different viewpoints and to use them to the team’s benefit.

Does someone always see the silver lining? Is someone typically a worst case scenario person? Does someone like to talk through solutions while another needs quiet time to digest and problem-solve?

Understand these personality traits and be sure to allow these team members to share their perspectives in their preferred way so you can get a clear picture of what may be happening on the project–and within the team.

Leading a team can have its challenges, but, if you have these three things, you’ll be able to head off issues quickly and continue on your path to success–and real results. And, if you need help with your team? Contact me.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: David Nichols, CC 2.0