This week’s Coaching Tuesday post is by Denis Levesque, PCC, CEC.
The first step in any leader’s career progression is often the most difficult: moving from the rank and file of a peer group into management. It can be a tough transition for the unprepared. Many first time managers see themselves in a split role: not only as a manager but also continuing as an expert in their former position. It’s an inner struggle that can go on for years.
As you start assuming your new manager identity, it may be easy to slip back into doing the comfortable and familiar work at which you excel. But for the good of your team and your own career progression, you need to focus primarily on your manager role.
Here are three key steps to help new managers make a smooth transition.
Delaying your transition to a manager or director can be the kiss of death for your career. The longer you are labeled a worker/manager, the more you will be pigeonholed for non-management production assignments. Furthermore, when an opportunity does open up at a higher level, your lack of key management abilities such as vision, budgeting, conflict resolution, delegation, team building, and strategy will be a glaring weakness when compared to other candidates.
Adapt and guide
You may at first be inclined to increase the team’s performance by telling everybody what to do and how to do it, based on your experience. Junior members of the team might appreciate this style, but seasoned experts may reject your directive approach and react with frustration and animosity.
Understanding each team member’s skill set and working within those parameters is vital to your effectiveness as a leader. Along the way, you may coach individuals to consider a different perspective or learn a new skill—this is expected in your role. But as a new manager you must remember that you are primarily responsible for the end result. Guide your talented team—but give them the ability to resolve the how.
Manage performance effectively
Managing people who were peers a few weeks ago would be a challenge for most new leaders. Some will turn into micromanagers and others will ignore poor performance in an attempt to maintain relationships. Neither too much managing, nor too little, is good for building a high performing team—or for your future career. Find the right balance to effectively manage your team’s performance. Leadership coaching in this and other areas can help a great deal with your transition into management.
Don’t Limit Your Potential
New managers struggle with workplace dynamics all the time. These issues are part of your evolution as a leader. Your first promotion into management happens because someone thinks you have leadership potential. Your job is to avoid the common mistakes that can delay your progress as a leader. You will transition into your new role with less difficulty by acquiring new skills that will help you face the future as a confident and coachable new leader.
About the Author
Denis Levesque is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and a Certified Executive Coach (CEC). Denis is also a member of The Ken Blanchard Companies 130-member coaching network, which has coached over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.
About Coaching Tuesday
Coaching Tuesday is a regular weekly feature at Blanchard LeaderChat. Check back each week for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.