Great News! You have been promoted and climbed onto the first rung of your new management career. It may be a position you have aimed for; it may be unexpected or maybe no-one else wanted it.
Management may not be quite what you expect. The sudden realisation that the buck stops with you can be quite a counterbalance to any feelings of pride and power. It may be those colleagues you once regarded as friends are now your subordinates and resent ‘taking orders’ from you. Before you know where you are, you sense a distinct frosty atmosphere in the office and an impending uprising. You start to have feelings of panic and sleepless nights wondering what will happen if you don’t get the cooperation and commitment you need. There is now the danger of slipping into command and control mode which will only compound such problems. For you and your team to work harmoniously, there has to be a strong feeling of trust and trust takes time and effort to build.
So what to do when you step into this honoured position of responsibility? There is much written about managing and leading a team but here are four key pointers for starters:
Aim to model the behaviour you would like from your team
Showing respect for customers, being able to deal with conflict without being defensive, demonstrating frugality yourself when you expect it from others, being able to give and receive feedback in a constructive way are just some examples. And remember, people receive permission just as much from negative behaviour modelling.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
This may sound a bit of a cliché and what does it mean anyway? The first important thing is to be in communication with ourselves: aware of own feelings, wants and needs and to take responsibility for them. We need to understand the messages we are sending non-verbally as well as verbally. What we say needs to match our behaviour. Also, listening is key: ‘First seek to understand and then be understood’. Listen without trying to impose your own agenda so that you can work with your people in terms of where they are, not where you are. You cannot make them be anything other than who they are. Discover their strengths and aspirations and work with them.
The importance of ‘positive strokes’
Remember that the behaviour that is paid attention to is the behaviour that you will get. Everyone needs positive strokes including the boss. People benefit from two types of recognition (strokes): strokes for what you do (e.g.‘you handled that difficult situation well’) and strokes for being you (e.g. a smile, good morning, how are you,’ of course I have time to talk’.) Aim to catch people doing things right rather always looking for what is wrong.
Let people do things their own way where possible
It may not be the way you would chose but their commitment will be greater. Avoid the temptation to micromanage – it is demoralising and disempowering. Be human – don’t feel you have to know all the answers and being right all the time is really annoying – nobody wants a robot for a manager. Be supportive and lead from behind but be prepared to step up and ‘carry the can’ in times of change or crisis. As my former boss used to say ‘don’t expect a salary and a round of applause’.