Maybe you’ve been a great individual contributor, and your stellar performance has made management realize your potential and promote you. Or, you just cracked the interview so well, your new employer was willing to take the risk of hiring you as a manager, even though you’ve not had any people management experience. Either way, you do want to excel in your new role. Here’s how.
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1. Get oriented to the new culture.
Every organization has its own unique culture. Understand the stated and unstated rules of the workplace. Be a silent observer when you’re just beginning your work and gather as much information as possible on the work culture, expectations, and professional decorum.
2. Check for the manager’s handbook.
Many organizations have a new manager’s on-boarding program, to prepare them for various team management challenges and ongoing responsibilities. They may also have a manager’s handbook with tips and explanations on policies, processes, etc. If your organization offers this, don’t miss this opportunity. Your HR business partner could be a great resource to help you as well.
3. Meet your manager.
You are no longer an individual contributor, so you need to be very clear as to what your new expectations are going to be. How will you be evaluated on your team’s performance? What are the people areas that you need to focus on? Talk to your manager to understand how she expects you to excel in your role.
4. Know your team.
Spend some time getting to know each member of your team. Have regular check-ins. If your organization has a training and people development function, they can help you with understanding work-preferences of your team members through programs like Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strengths Finder, etc. This initial investment on your part will go a long way in understanding the dynamics of your team and getting the best out of them.
5. Learn how the team needs to be managed.
You cannot choose to be a dictator for a team that prefers autonomy. You cannot be hands-off for a team that needs a lot of guidance. You may have to test your management style to figure out what works best for your team as a whole and to the individuals in your team. It’s not easy being a manager; to be successful, you need to know the optimal resources you will need to manage the team.
6. Seek a mentor.
If you respect the management style of fellow managers, reach out to them for guidance and support. As experienced players in the field, they will be able to offer valuable insights and help you in tough situations of people management. Consider the role a learning experience and you’ll succeed.
7. Let your team know you.
Since you are the person who’s going to be assessing them, they are arguably more curious to know about you than you are about them. Let them get to know you, and share your vision for the team, how you plan on working with them, and how they can interact with you. If you know the person you are replacing, compare your style with theirs. Your team is familiar to your predecessor’s managerial style, so it will easy for them to know what you bring to the table.
8. Share the common goal.
All of you are working for one team — your responsibilities are different, but the contributions add up to the goal. So discuss your vision and how you plan to reach the team goal with their support. Solicit inputs from them. Together come up with how you will work as a team. How should work flow?
9. Know the limitations of your role.
A manager’s role is not as powerful as you might have thought when you took on the job. You are not guaranteed instant authority and you won’t earn the trust of your team members overnight. In fact, if your team members complain about your lack of skills or the trouble you are putting them through, it is likely that their assessment will be considered by the management, because you are new to your role. You need to be committed to your role and to being a good visionary for your team, to guiding and supporting them in the various projects. You will especially have to win the trust of the most competent members of your team, because they are already sure of what they bring to the table.
10. Invest in your people, and do what’s best for the organization.
You are responsible for recognizing, rewarding, and offering opportunities to your team. Have their backs and build on their trust in you. At the same time, also realize that your first allegiance is with the organization. Hopefully, the two objectives are aligned, but there may be instances where you feel conflicted, and in those times, you should be in a position to make tough calls. Accept that it’s a part of the job.
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