Let me ask you an honest question – did you choose to be a manager? Was it really your preferred choice of career or did it just seem like the natural next step in the absence of others?
It really wouldn’t surprise me if your answer was no – that you ‘fell’ into management. I’m sure that is the case for many people. Perhaps you were in a position where you were out performing, happy, successful and thriving before you were promoted to being a manager, in the hope that you would be equally successful at managing others…after all, why wouldn’t you be?
Or perhaps you were in a role where you were technically brilliant. A real specialist, and ‘go to’ person in your chosen career path and the only route ‘up’ was to become a manager.
In both cases it often means doing much less of what you know and love and much more of managing others – which is a completely different skill set altogether.
This is something, as a Management Development Trainer and Coach, I have often seen. Managers that have been promoted internally who were once thriving in their role and now struggling to keep their heads above water. Managers, that although could do well given the right training, are often left to flounder with little or no support.
So, if you’ve found yourself in this position (or you’re about to promote someone) have a look at what you can do to make the transition easier.
1. Accept that being a manager is a different discipline
Just like going into any new role, there are things you won’t know how to do, and you just have to learn. Being a manager is really no different. Don’t expect to hit the ground running, no matter how much you’re expected to do that. Give yourself a break and some time to learn the ropes – being more successful in the long run, is more effective than trying to rush and making some mistakes with your new team.
2. Choose a role model
Just like in so many fields a coach, mentor or role model is vital. Look around the company or in your network for someone who has a lot of experience and is willing to share it. Someone who is well respected for their role as a manager or leader, and you can trust and can learn from. A good role model really is worth their weight in Gold.
3. Share your stories
You have experience and knowledge so share it with your team. Tell them about your successes and your failures. Become a role model for them. Knowledge is definitely for sharing and will help your new team know and trust you more.
4. Ask questions
Asking questions is not a failing. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The saying ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’ is very true. Be curious and ask questions to further your knowledge and understanding. By doing this you’ll also encourage discussions, new ideas and new ways of thinking.
5. Don’t stop listening
Listening really is the key to all understanding, and it’s something that is very dear to my heart. By listening to someone you are instantly telling them that you respect them, and that what they are saying is important to you. It’s a simple habit but one that takes a bit of practice. Start by stopping what you’re doing when someone approaches you. It really does mean something.
And above all, stay human. Just because you’re a manager, doesn’t mean that you’re really any different to anyone else. With that in mind remain approachable no matter how busy or important you get and always stay true to your own values – and when the time is right, be prepared to pass on your management expertise to someone else…it’s your rite of passage.