The Leap from Contributor to People Manager
If you’ve been given the opportunity to transition to a new people manager position from your previous role as an individual contributor, there are some things you should know. No longer will you be measured simply by your individual performance; now your success will be gauged by the success of your team. This shift requires some adjustments on your part if you want to succeed.
Three Mistakes to Avoid When You Transition to a New People Manager
Beware of three very common obstacles to success as a first time people manager:
1. Tackling Too Much at Once
A critical skill for new managers is knowing how to set priorities. When people are faced with what seems an impossible number of tasks to accomplish, they are probably right. New supervisors need to review what’s on your “to do” list and pare it down to the most essential activities.
A very effective tool is the Urgent Important Matrix that helps you distinguish the urgent and important tasks from their opposite – the not urgent and not important. All those that fall outside of the highest priority can either be delegated to others or eliminated entirely. In time, you will find that your productivity and your influence increase as you improve your ability to manage your workload.
Our new supervisor training participants have found that they can only take on two or three big projects at a time. Have you prioritized what matters most with your boss and with your team?
2. Jumping in Too Fast and Overlooking Alignment with Goals
Most new managers must manage not only their own projects but also the deliverables of their team. Being a player and a coach at the same time is not easy. As tempting as it may be to have the team just dive in and get busy, it is your job to see that everyone is working on the right stuff in the right way with the right people.
Clarify expectations for yourself and your employees. What does the company expect you to accomplish? And how do those goals align with the organization’s overall business strategy? Clarity helps to create alignment, and alignment helps to create high performance.
3. Avoiding Giving (and Receiving) Feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for improving self-awareness and performance. Managers need to get good at receiving and giving effective feedback in a straightforward, direct, timely, and sensitive way in many different situations. Managers need to coach team members on how to get better at what they do in a way that makes sense.
As for receiving feedback, be open to making corrections in your own behavior. Your employees will appreciate your asking for feedback from them on how you can help them be successful. And your humility at not pretending to know it all will earn you their trust and loyalty.
The Bottom Line
The leap from individual contributor to people manager is challenging but being promoted to a new people manager is also filled with new and interesting opportunities for growth and advancement. Learning to prioritize tasks, aligning actions with business strategy, and encouraging feedback are three promising ways to set yourself up for success. Are you being thoughtful about the way you address the transition to management?
To learn more about how to effectively transition to a new people manager, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers