How to Help Transition from Individual Contributor to Manager


How to Help Transition from Individual Contributor to Manager

Becoming a first time people manager can be exhilarating and fear-provoking.  The transition from individual contributor to manager requires a shift in both mindset and priorities.  As a new supervisor, here is how to help transition from individual contributor to manager.  You can no longer rely solely on your own technical expertise and high performance; your success as a new manager is now dependent upon the success of your team.

And since teams are made up of people with different strengths and weaknesses, the transition from individual contributor to manager leaves many previous superstars gasping for air.

The Good News about Being an Effective Manager
The good news is that management is a skillset that can be learned and mastered if you are willing to devote the time and energy to learn, practice and act upon feedback.  The other good news is that basics of good management have not changed.  To be an effective manager you must start with the basics of goal setting, communicating, managing performance, delegating and motivating.  You can indeed learn how to help transition from individual contributor to manager.

The Bad News about Being an Effective Manager
While companies continue to investment in developing their high-level leaders, investments in middle management continue to languish even though they make up over one third of the average workforce.  Additionally, McKinsey found that 75% of executives are unsatisfied with the performance of their front-line managers and that a striking 81% of managers are not satisfied with their own performance.

This is bad news.  Low performing managers make low performing companies.

Transitioning from Individual Contributor to Manager
We believe that companies need to re-think the way they spend their development dollars to ensure that their new managers are prepared to succeed.  They need to know just how to help transition from individual contributor to manager.  Here are some tips on providing timely and effective management training programs:

1. Define High Performance
Your first step is to define what it means to be a high performing manager at your company.  While high performance is highly dependent upon your strategy and culture, high performing managers typically are able to consistently:

  • Attract top talent
  • Engage and retain top talent
  • Avoid employee relations issues
  • Meet or exceed their performance targets

2. Agree Upon Success Metrics
Just like any other business investment or initiative, we believe that training success metrics should be agreed upon ahead of time.  We also believe that the success metrics need to 100% tied to an important people or business metric.  Participant training satisfaction alone simply does not cut it.

3. Identify the Management Scenarios that Matter Most
Once you know what defines a high performing manager, identify the top five management situations that if handled well would have the biggest impact on manager effectiveness.  For example, one client used the best places to work employee engagement survey to identify manager feedback as having the highest correlation to manager effectiveness.  The benefit of identifying the scenarios that matter most is that it allows you to simplify and focus your management development efforts to the areas that have the highest relevance.

4. Assess Where People Stand
Once you know what defines high performance and success and the situations that matter most, it is time to assess where your current managers stand vis-à-vis your desired standards.  You want to identify strengths and weaknesses so that you can provide training participants with a clear answer to “What is holding them back?” and “Where should they focus?”

5. Provide Relevant, Targeted, Active Training Opportunities
The most effective management training is highly relevant, practical, experiential, customized and timely.  Action learning combined with highly relevant scenarios, job aids and consistent coaching can be enormously helpful for closing skill and knowledge gaps.

6. Monitor Progress
Learning is the beginning. Behavior and performance change is your desired end result. That means creating a system of feedback and accountability to ensure that the new skills are being adopted and that they are having the desired performance impact.

The Bottom Line
To succeed, new managers need help because they are often ill-equipped to deal with the people and business challenges of leadership.  Are you willing to risk your organization’s productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction in unprepared hands?

To learn more about how to help transition from individual contributor to manager, download the Top 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers


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