transitioning into leadership - 4 tips to rock as a first-time manager

imageHere’s an interesting insight based on a study conducted by HR consultancy DDI – six out of ten managers said that becoming a boss is one of the most stressful times in a professional’s career. Employees often find it challenging to transition from being an individual contributor into being a manager, and rightly so, because managing a team requires a very different set of skills. More often than not, even star performers, who are expected to become efficient team leaders, find it difficult to adapt to the responsibilities of being a first-time manager. So how does one incorporate the increased responsibilities of managing a team within the same number of work hours? Is it possible to motivate a team while also maintaining  professional relationships? 

Here we share four tips to make the transition into a managerial role smoother, while also improving one’s effectiveness as a manager. 

1. effective communication is the biggest ally 

One of the most powerful tools a manager has in his/her possession is strong communication skills. Whether written or verbal, building communication prowess through training and practice, helps to form the bridge of understanding with the team. The nature of transition i.e. whether one’s working with the same team at a different level or working with an entirely new team, determines the changes to be made while using a certain vocabulary and tone, while communicating as a manager. The idea of effective communication further expands to understanding the expectations of the senior management and communicating the same to the team with clarity. 

2. understanding the power of delegation 

One of the most common initial challenges for a new manager is effective time management. Expanding one’s KRAs to incorporate the supervision of other employees’ KRAs and performances can seem overwhelming at the beginning, as several factors beyond one’s control comes under consideration. The answer lies in not separating the self from the team. It is important to understand the strengths, weaknesses and interests of each of team member, and then delegate when required. Being present to address queries and to offer subtle direction, but with an understanding of what it takes to empower every team member is essential. One of the common attributes of a good manager is that he/she trusts the team and avoids micromanagement.  

3. setting up a regular feedback loop 

imageGood managers understand and acknowledge the need to grow. This goes for them personally as well as their teams. Setting up a regular feedback system helps new managers learn more about their team members and also gives them a chance for introspection . From goal setting to establishing processes to fine tuning the rhythm of collaboration within the team; these are all essential themes that require a regular exchange of feedback. A creative and healthy feedback process can also help in establishing certain personal dynamics within the team, which improves team bonding and avoids conflict. Effective managers provide timely and constructive feedback to the team members in order to keep them engaged and efficient. 

4. expanding the understanding of the business/industry 

Managers are expected to think beyond their daily tasks and KRAs. In order to be a successful manager, one needs to have a larger vision that involves not only the team but the organization at large. To empower and assist others in accomplishing their tasks, new managers are on a continuous learning curve, upgrading  skills through training, seminars, online programmes and other tools.  Curiousness to learn more about the company’s business and finding out about the latest technologies that are disrupting the industry will stand them in god stead. It is also important for the new manager to improve his/her network with the objective of knowledge sharing in their own field and related industries. The enhanced knowledge will not only help in day-to-day problem solving but will also instill confidence in their leadership.  

A focus on learning as one steps into the shoes of a manager is always helpful. Seeking mentors at beginning of the transition arms one with valuable tips and tricks more quickly than through personal experience. Studies have revealed that 47% of managers do not receive any professional training when they take a new leadership role.  Professional guidance and training can help ease into the transition, while charting a growth path for self and team that is in alignment with the  organization’s goals.