You’ve just been appointed to your first management position which can be both pleasing and quite scary at the same time.
If you have been appointed to a management position in in the company where you are currently employed you may face these challenges:
- Resentment or jealousy by colleagues who feel they have been passed over and who feel they should have been given the promotion, possibly by some team members you now have to manage – yes, this does happen. This can be awkward and they may not cooperate with you.
- Your bosses will be watching your every move hoping they have made the right decision in appointing you. This will add pressure and be a distraction if you must keep looking over your shoulder to see if they approve.
If you join a different company as a manager, you will have many challenges but none of those above. The following thoughts should guide you to success whether you have been promoted internally or are joining a new company.
The first thing to accept is that you will only be as successful as the team that you build. This will require extra effort on your part. Management today requires more than planning, organising and controlling. While these skills are still needed, there is much more that is needed. Being an old style “Boss” in today’s working environment will no longer cut the mustard.
Here are some steps to consider taking:
- Get a clear understanding of the company’s mission, its goals in terms of revenue, profits and market share. Find out where your company stands in relation to its competitors. This applies regardless of your department’s functional area, be it human resources, marketing, production or finance.
- Once you have a clear understanding of these, communicate this information to your team members – they may have heard it all before but you need to get them all working in the same direction. In addition, managers from all departments need to be financially literate. If you’re not, you’ll be at a disadvantage in some management meetings.
- Get clarity on your key performance indicators (KPIs) and those of each member of your team. It is important that you and each member of your team knows exactly how each KPI impacts on the organisation’s goals, giving your team a clear sense of purpose. If any of the KPIs is, for some reason, in conflict with reaching the company’s goals, this needs to be investigated and where appropriate changed in consultation with your senior manager.
- Understand what motivates your team members. While most people will tell you that it’s money, this is mostly not the case. It has for some time been held that recognition is a key motivator. However recent research has found that a major motivator is a sense of accomplishment: that when people leave work they have achieved something and made a difference that day. Your challenge is to make each of your team members feel that way when they leave work. This does not mean that recognition does not play an important role but often the “well done, backslapping congratulations” is felt as being patronising.
You need to be a coach. This does not mean giving advice. What is required is spending one-on-one time with all team members so that no one feels they’re being picked on or left out. Coaching involves the asking of questions. Not “I see you’re behind in this area of your work” but rather open-ended questions that draw out the team member being coached. Done correctly, coaching should prompt people to start thinking about solutions to problems they are experiencing and with their work and arrive at their own solutions. This gives them an opportunity to grow. This is more powerful than you telling them what to do. There are many articles on the web on the role of managers as coaches and I encourage you to read a few.
Many people loathe going to meetings. I once heard a manager at a meeting sighing as he said, “meetings, a great substitute for work”. Possibly he was correct. Many meetings are a waste of time. To have a productive meeting ensure the following:
- Every meeting you call must have an agenda circulated prior to the meeting and the duration of the meeting must be specified.
- Minutes should not be a verbatim record of everything that was said. All you need minuted is the decisions taken and who and by when the person/s responsible for carrying implementing the decision must have done the work.
- A meeting is not for brainstorming. This is an entirely different type of activity.
Regarding your relationships with your team as a whole and individually, remember that regardless of them reporting to you they are also your colleagues. While it may feel great to be friends with everybody remember the old adage, “familiarity breeds contempt”. So as the senior person you need to be unnoticeably distant. It’s also not a great idea to socialise outside of the office with your team especially when alcohol is involved – unless it is a company-organised function.
You may be called on make presentations to senior management and, depending on the function of your department, to clients. You should regard this as an opportunity to shine, so before using PowerPoint for presentations I urge you to Google “Death by PowerPoint” and read a few of the articles. And don’t be the rookie standing there reading from your slides – if you do that, you may as well have circulated your presentation to all the people invited.
If you have notes that accompany your presentation, keep them until you have finished talking and then hand them out. If you hand them out at the beginning of the presentation people will start flapping through the pages while you’re talking. This is distracting and irritating to all present. You don’t need these kinds of distractions. You need to be the focus of the people attending. If you have a fear of public speaking – as most people do – then get training in this area or join your nearest chapter of Toastmasters. It will provide you with good experience in public speaking and you will meet and get to know more people, so it could double as a networking opportunity.
It is important that you continually develop yourself and the members of your team. Some companies provide a wide range of training programmes for their employees on an in-company basis. These are presented by company trainers and in some cases may include external courses. If there is training available within the company then, with the assistance of your training manager, carry out a training needs analysis for yourself and your team members. If this indicates the need for training that is not provided by the company itself, then look for external programmes. If this is the case, a cost-benefit analysis is needed. In other words, what will be the measurable benefit of the external training compared to the cost of the training?
It is normal for everyone to want to get ahead in their careers. But this needs planning – not just for yourself but also for your team members. Draw up a plan for yourself and encourage your team members to do the same. This will show that you care about their development – which will motivate them. Here is a simple guide:
- Take stock of your current skills;
- Compare them to the skills required in the next job you would like to have;
- Make plans to fill any gaps.
Above all, at all times set an example to your team regarding manners, punctuality and your work ethic. Behave in a way you would like them to behave. No matter how frustrated you may become on occasion, never throw a tantrum. Never get involved in company grapevine activities and other gossiping. Also remember the advice about praising in public and criticising in private. At all times be loyal to your team and once they know this they will be loyal to you. If your department has made a bad mistake never blame your team. Take full responsibility yourself. This will earn the respect of your team and your senior managers.
It’s a tough world out there but I know you can do it.
This article was previously published in People Dynamics an IPM publication