There’s a lot to take in when you first get promoted. But here are some handy hacks to help make the transition easier.
It’s important to acknowledge that you can’t do everything.
This can be hard if you’re used to having control over your key areas of responsibility. It requires letting go of some of that control and trusting that your team will deliver. Resist the urge to micro-manage as this isn’t good for you or them.
Be clear on what you need and agree on clear timelines. It’s also important to understand where the skill gaps are so you can offer support and training. The first couple of times that you delegate new tasks to a team member may feel anxiety-making as you worry about whether they’ll do it ‘right’ but remember that your team will never learn if they don’t try new tasks and (with support) they’ll enjoy stretching their skills.
Mentors can be really useful because they provide a great sounding board outside your work environment and can offer useful advice when you’re going through a challenge or a big work transition i.e. moving into a senior position. 79% of millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success and 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs.
There are lots of mentoring networks that will be specific to your industry or you can approach someone on LinkedIn or in person. The important factor is that your mentor is someone you relate to, and find inspirational. Be mindful that you won’t be talking to them every week. It’s realistic to expect a virtual or face-to-face catch up once a month or every six weeks. You may find that you need to approach a few people before you find the right fit.
It’s easy to imagine that you’ve ‘arrived’ now that you’re a manager and you no longer have anything new to learn. It’s important, however, to retain a ‘growth mindset’ and keep learning new things. A ‘growth mindset’ is a belief that basic abilities are not fixed and that intelligence can be developed over time. There are thankfully lots of interesting books, podcasts and online events about all the different aspects of leadership from managing people, successful delegating through to time management.
There is rarely ‘one way’ of thinking about being a leader and it pays to remain open to different approaches and remember that different personalities require different management styles (though all respond well to empathy).
Just like any other role, there will be times when you feel like things are going wrong or like you’re fire-fighting. Remind yourself that you’re playing the long-game and each challenge presents a learning opportunity. If you get something wrong then don’t be afraid to talk to your team about it and apologise. The reality is that teams respect leaders who are vulnerable and don’t pretend to be perfect.
Brene Brown, the American research professor and author, talks about vulnerability in two ways. One way is to share personal details, examples of past failures and insecurities in order to build trust and connection with team members, showing them that it is, indeed, ok to make mistakes and to feel uncertain at times. Another way, she explains, is to use your team as a sort of emotional dumping ground, offloading your concerns and frustrations onto them, which is damaging and confusing.
As a manager, demonstration of the right kind of vulnerability helps to develop constructive and trustful relationships. it can make your team feel more confident, more inspired to do a great job, more aware of how we all make mistakes and can set them right again.