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Transitioning into a management role is a significant accomplishment in your career. It can present new and exciting opportunities while also creating challenges both personally and professionally that you never expected. Overcoming these challenges, while shifting from Peer to Manager, raises the bar for success - and it doesn’t happen just because of a title change.
We’ll walk through the five steps to develop a successful transition plan. By understanding how peer friendships, working relationships and your personal work style all contribute to your new role as manager, you’ll be able to solidify your new position and build an effective team.
From Peer to Manager
The transition from peer to manager can be a difficult transition for some. You’ve taken time to cultivate office friendships with your peers. Now that you are a manager, you should look to develop and maintain office friendships through other work-related activities such as seminars, workshops and company, community and professional events. This change also includes interacting with team members in a balanced manner and understanding the difference between being liked and being respected.
Focus on three key areas: Be Clear, Be Fair and Be Aware.
Build New Relationships
Building new relationships is key for success as a new manager. First, you’ll need to understand the hierarchy of your organization and then start to develop connections with your new peers and upper level managers. These new relationships will provide you not only with mentorship, but with insight into other leadership styles and team dynamics.
According to Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics: How to Achieve Your Goals and Increase Your Influence at Work, “Even if you are a cooperative and friendly person, there are probably certain people that you simply do not like to work with because you always wind up feeling frustrated, aggravated, or disappointed. Frequently, frustration with co-workers is the result of work style incompatibilities.”1
Personal Work Styles
There are various personal work styles and numerous online tools and resources for defining personal work styles. However, understanding the impact that different work styles have on your team is critical during the transition to a management role.
Frequently, frustration with co-workers is the result of work style incompatibilities.
Each work style brings a unique contribution to the team and allows for different perspectives to be considered. Although it may take time to learn to communicate with these different work styles, try to understand the value each bring to the table.
Without clearly defined expectations, day-to-day activities can become tiresome tasks. And, tiresome tasks aren’t good for anyone. Be wary of making significant changes right away. Take small steps in your new role and clearly communicate to your team what is expected and how they contribute. As a manager, you will want to define expectations for each member of your team and the department as a whole. With these expectations, be sure to set the bar equally for all and show no favoritism toward friends.
Don’t forget to gain a clear understanding of what is expected of you in your role as manager. Talk openly with your supervisor or manager about goals and objectives and understand their expectation: are they looking for you to direct, collaborate or oversee people and projects? Meshing their expectations with yours is critical to your game plan.
Define the Goals
Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely) goals to define both personal growth goals as well as performance goals. You will want to make sure to keep all team members apprised of their progress through consistent feedback so there are no surprises at an annual evaluation. Most importantly, as a manager you want to provide support and guidance equally to all.
Your team needs to understand how they are impacting the success of the team, department and organization. You can do this by celebrating successes and encouraging collaboration at each “stage” of the project and offer praise and recognition equally to all participants.
Deal With Conflict
Despite your best intentions, people are people. When negative behavior and gossip arise, monitor these behaviors and know when constructive feedback is warranted. If you begin to see these behaviors cause discord among the team, seek guidance from HR on best practices so you can address them timely.
Be Your (Better) Self
When you think about great leaders, think about those leaders who have made a personal impact in your life. Alternatively, think about those leaders who haven’t been so great and made work harder. In your new position, you have an opportunity to assess those values and practice only those that make a great leader great. Try to be your better self. Here are a few tips to being a better leader:
“Where there is chaos in business, there are frustrated people, poor performance and opportunities for trouble,” Helene Wall, Associate Director, Postlethwaite & Netterville. Managing through chaos can damage prior relationships as well as cause immense difficulty in forging new ones. Friends who are not used to seeing you frazzled may not know how to react. And, new peers and managers above you will observe the visual and may not dig deeper to get to know your true capabilities.
People often base their impression of someone on visual observations. If this is you:
….the perception may be that you are not quite ready for the position.
If this is an area that causes you concern, make it a priority to improve and implement changes to result in a more positive outcome. You can utilize one of the many planning technology tools available to keep you on track, or if you are not comfortable with the technology, use a day planner, checklist or white board to maintain a list of things you need accomplish and important deadlines. Whether you go high-tech or old-school, just use something that works for you. If you find yourself struggling with the new responsibilities, reach out to a trusted advisor, mentor or coach for supportive guidance.
To help you stay organized, delegate areas of project management to team members to promote shared accountability. When delegating, be sure to balance the workload and monitor progress among all team membership and providing training where it is needed. For lengthy projects, set schedules as far in advance as possible to accommodate prep time.
Your team will look to you to set the standard for career advancement. If you succeed, the perception is that they will too. By developing a plan that is consistent with your values, supports your objectives and is aligned with your organization’s goals, you will be able to navigate the milestones toward advancement.
Continuum of Learning
As you continue to grow and advance in your career, your level of responsibility will increase and your reach will broaden:
Learning doesn’t end with graduation! Continually learning ensures that your knowledge and skills stay relevant and up-to-date with changing trends and directions in your profession. Developing new skills allows you to provide meaningful contributions to your team and share in a collaboration of growth.
Development for Retention
Career growth and development opportunity ranks as one of the top five factors that most employees need from work.2 Working as a team, you will begin to discover what makes your team members tick. By understanding their work styles and what makes them succeed, you can help them thrive in an environment that not only keeps them on your team, but keeps them happy on your team.
A promotion to a management role is exciting and presents new opportunities for growth. By implementing these best practices and being aware of the challenges with this transition, you’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful in your new role. As you travel this path, don’t lose sight of the initial transition and remember that above all, open communication is the key to success.
1 McIntyre, M. G. (2005). Secrets to winning at office politics: how to achieve your goals and increase your influence at work. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
2Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) (2016, April). EMPLOYEE JOB SATISFACTION AND ENGAGEMENT. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2016-Employee-Job-Satisfaction-and-Engagement-Report.pdf
Personality DiSC Assessment - Everything DiSC®. (n.d.). http://www.everythingdisc.com/Home.aspx