Becoming a Manager


AdlaiEStevenson1900-1965American politician and statesman Adlai Ewing Stevenson II is quoted as saying that “it’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse”.

Making the transition from team member to team leader is exciting but it can be quite challenging and at times you may wonder whether you are up to it.  Not only are you expected to take responsibility for your own performance but you are also expected to take responsibility for your team’s performance.

Here are a few tips to help you with this transition:

Know Yourself
  • Be very aware of what is required to be effective in your position -identify any gaps – honestly map yourself against what is required
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses – what are you good/not good at, what do you like/not like, where you need to improve
  • Strive to improve – develop a plan with your supervisor to fill the gaps (reading, training, studying, networking, etc)
  • Consider getting a coach or mentor – ask someone you respect professionally to coach or mentor you – a chat with someone who has no axe to grind does wonders for your outlook and your soul
Know Your Stakeholders
  • Listen well to your stakeholders’ and ask lots of questions – you need to understand their expectations
  • Keep your stakeholders informed – nothing should come as a surprise to them unless it is also a surprise to you
  • Be empathetic – try to see the world from your stakeholders’ point of view – customers, supervisors, colleagues, staff, and service providers
  • Be emotionally intelligent – develop effective relationships across the organisation and the sector – influence, persuasion and negotiation
Know Your Team
  • Know what your team members are capable of doing, what they enjoy, and what motivates them
  • Know where they want to go professionally – invest in them – help them to be the best that they can be
Know Your Team’s Workload
  • Know what is expected of you and your team – establish effective communications with your customers to ensure clarity
  • Know your priorities – make sure you know the difference between urgency and importance
  • Make sure your staff know exactly what is expected of them and by when – establish effective ways of communicating with them and maximising their performance
Helpful Hints
  • Be confident – you were chosen for this role because of your skills and qualities – have faith in your own abilities
  • Be firm – you and your staff have a job to do – expect high standards but make it as easy as possible for them to deliver
  • Be consistent and constant – in all that you do, say what you mean, mean what you say, and do as you say – treat all staff the same
  • Care for your staff – they are doing you a favour by being here – your success largely depends on them and their commitment depends a lot on you
  • Encourage feedback from your staff – it will help you develop as a supervisor and as a person
  • Learn to live with ambiguity – you seldom have perfect information so do your best with what you’ve got
  • When things are unclear, seek clarity – agree the way forward with your stakeholders – if that’s too difficult, document what you think and ask them to respond
  • Be brave – sometimes it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission – do what you think is right
  • Don’t try to keep everybody happy all the time – if you do, you will end up keeping nobody happy
  • If you have to make a decision, don’t put it off unnecessarily – often, any decision is better than no decision
  • Learn from your experiences – both positive and negative – nobody is perfect, but don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again
  • Often there is no one right way of doing things – if it’s not working, try something else – “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”
  • Choose your attitude – never underestimate the power of a positive attitude – your staff will pick up on it
  • Remember you are not alone – there are a lot of people who want you to succeed – there are no prizes for the person who asks the least number of questions
  • Take time – spend a few minutes each day reflecting on what has happened, and planning for the future – you may wish to keep a journal
  • Keep a life/work balance – all work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull, unhealthy and burnt out.

If you’re having difficulties with this transition, contact the Hub – when you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen.