Transition to Management Best Practices
Any transition involves some uncertainty.  For those who transition to management from a role as individual contributor, there are many questions.  Do I have the right skills to be successful?  Will I be able to assemble and lead a team successfully?  What can I do to prepare?  How quickly do I need to make an impact in terms of productivity and team goals?

Now that you will be judged on your ability to get work done through others, the success of your transition to management will depend on the success of your team.

Five Transition to Management Best Practices
Over the last thirty years as part of our new manager training programs, we have helped thousands of new managers excel in their new leadership role.  For employees to transition successfully into their first managerial roles, they need support from their companies and their boss through both training in management fundamentals and ongoing coaching.

While training and coaching opportunities are the responsibility of your company, here are five transition-to-management best practices that are your responsibility as a new supervisor:

  1. Learn All You Can
    Take advantage of development opportunities and steep yourself in learning not only your own strengths and weaknesses but also what it takes to effectively manage others.  Know what management skills you already possess and create a targeted plan to develop the skills you lack.  In other words, get up to speed on your specific development needs.

    Are you able to adapt to different communication styles?  Do you know how to run effective meetings? Do you know the importance of setting clear goals and expectations? Can you delegate tasks effectively?  Hold team members accountable? These are just a few of the leadership skills you will need to succeed at being a good new manager.

    Whenever possible talk to other managers and the previous team leader to understand what works and what does not work at your company and for your team.  Then invest the time to get to know your team both personally and professionally.

  1. Meet to Define Team Goals, Roles, and Success Metrics
    Our organizational alignment research found that clear goals account for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams. Work together with your team to set clear and meaningful goals and roles that align with the overall company goals. Then agree upon how both success and failure will be measured at the individual and team levels.Once goals, roles, and success metrics are clear, identify the most likely barriers to success and high-level ways to overcome them.

    Do not underestimate the importance of getting this step right.  Unclear goals, roles, and success metrics are the number one reason that most teams underperform.

  2. Establish a Thoughtful Plan of Action
    With goals, roles, success metrics, and potential obstacles clear, define a plan for success. Some actions will depend upon others; some will have higher priority than others.  This is the time to build a step-by-step plan for execution that makes sense for your unique situation, capabilities, and budget.
  3. Implement and Monitor the Plan
    Know that there will be some hiccups along the way. Your challenge is to stay flexible enough to adapt to changes as necessary.  Communicate regularly with your team so that you can monitor progress but beware of micromanaging the process.  Give feedback as needed to keep the plan on track and be ready to praise and appreciate the efforts of your team.
  4. Maintain an Eye on the Big Picture
    New managers, especially, get so bogged down with the intricacies of the many moving parts that they often neglect to keep an eye on the big picture. Don’t neglect the forest for the trees.  As a new leader, you are now responsible for thinking and acting strategically, not simply executing a plan.

The Bottom Line
Almost everything at a company happens through managers.  By the nature of leading others for the first time, a new manager’s actions or inactions significantly influence the performance of individuals, teams, and the organization. Yet despite these high stakes, most new leaders report being woefully under-prepared and lack the support needed to succeed in their new role.

To learn more about transition to management best practices, download 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers

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