Are you cut out for management?
If you feel unsure or are nervous about moving into management, then there are things you can do before and after you step up. Today, I’m going to focus on how you deal with the potential challenges of becoming the manager of a team you know well.
I’ve come across many managers who were brilliant practitioners – e.g. great social workers, nurses, firefighters etc. Often urged on by seniors keen on recruiting good successors. They go for promotion because they are doing well at the job.
Once promoted though, they may find themselves in a challenging position. Firstly, because they are no longer doing what they are brilliant at and secondly, because they find themselves managing colleagues; people they have been working with for many years. Colleagues who might now be considered friends.
The same but different
So how do you do manage this transition? How do you go from being one of the gang to being a line manager of the gang?
First, you must accept that as a manager you are different. Do not be drawn into the trap of thinking you can stay in both camps. If you want to be a good manager, you have to accept you are no longer part of the group you have been promoted out of.
There may be uncomfortable times ahead. Your old friends may turn up late for work, they could mismanage a project or upset a client. What do you do?
Prepare everyone well from the very start
Be clear with people that your role is different. Help them understand and accept it.
I advise my clients to take these three steps:
- Call a meeting. Make sure that you run a team meeting which outlines the new boundaries of working. Keep it light, friendly and convivial but be clear that the relationship will now change and that it has to for the benefit of everyone. Explain that for you to be a good manager, you need to be doing different things now.
- Prepare for that meeting. Know exactly what you have to say. Outline the boundaries of that role, what you’re responsible for and what you’re not responsible for.
- Give people a chance to speak in terms of how they feel your role has changed. The more you can get them to understand the differences and what to expect, the easier it will be for you. Maybe get them to prepare a small scenario or example of what might happen and ask them, “What do you expect me to do here?” Avoid patronising or diminishing them in any way whatsoever, be respectful, and help them understand that you aim to be fair and reasonable at all times.
Finally, take time to settle into your new role but make sure new bad habits aren’t allowed to start. It’s like teachers at school who say “Start the term firm and then you relax as it goes on”. You deserve that promotion – so be prepared for it.
Emma Falkner is a Leadership Consultant who supports managers and leaders so they continually improve their skills, becoming calm, effective, compassionate leaders. Contact her for an informal chat about how she can help you and your organisation.