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.

3 Simple Skills Every Spectacular Leader Masters

three simple skills leadership

Even though being a leader today is complicatedthere are just three simple skills you need to master. Leadership today is complex, in part because our teams are global and virtual. Our hierarchies are flatter. Our environments are more collaborative.

And, there are so many different models of leadership to consider. Should you be compassionate? Should you be a serving leader? What’s the difference between the two?

It can be overwhelming to think about all the different ways one can lead and how to pick the best fit.

But there are three simple skills that all spectacular leaders demonstrate and you can too.

Be observant.

All fantastic leaders are able to assess the different ways their employees work and thrive. They look at their teams’ personalities, cultural backgrounds, even gender, to identify what approach will be most effective in engaging, motivating and bringing out the best in an employee.

For example, in the case of differing cultural backgrounds, if a team member is from Mexico or Japan where there’s commonly a distinct hierarchy, then a leader should know that he or she might need to ask this person if they need support or have issues. This is because in these cultures it’s often seen as disrespectful to bring up problems to a superior.

Alternatively, if a person is from a country like the U.S. or France, they’re most likely used to working in a flatter organizational structure and are accustomed to having autonomy in their work.

Create a feedback loop.

Leaders often cite giving feedback, especially the negative kind, as one of the toughest parts of their jobs. They don’t want to make their teams feel uncomfortable, hurt feelings, or impair relationships.

The way around this is to create a culture of feedback where the team views the practice as a positive for both the individual and the organization rather than something to be feared. Give both constructive and positive commentary on a regular basis.

But 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.

Be an empowering coach.

Be a coach who empowers the team to better themselves. Ask questions, listen, and help your staff re-frame their answers so they can come up with solutions.

I like the GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, and Will) coaching model because it helps someone refine their goal, define their current situation, discover the different options of what to try, and then commit to a particular action. The coachee owns the answers and therefore is more engaged and committed to the outcome.

This strategy works especially well in flatter hierarchies and collaborative environments. The best coaching is used to empower and serve team members. It allows them to find answers themselves that might even be better than what you would have directed them to do.

While these three simple skills are seemingly basic, there are many different approaches and methods along with various workshops and programs.

But what it comes down to is the ability to be observant, listen, and have those effective and critical conversations in feedback and coaching. If you master these three simple skills, you’ll have a strong connection with your team and see them be more productive and successful. And, if you need working with your team, or developing your own leadership skills, contact me.

 A version of this post was first published on Inc.
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