Faye Spiller shares her thoughts on first time manager challenges and how to overcome them.
I read somewhere that ‘leaders are made, not born’. With change comes challenges and working at the front line of organisational leadership isn’t going to be and shouldn’t be a walk in the park. You are ultimately accountable for the productivity, success and satisfaction of the team, meaning an awful lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of team leaders, section heads, department managers, project managers and the like. Your team, though responsible for their own actions, do depend upon you and how you lead. If you fail, ultimately the team fails. ‘No pressure’ then! So, how do you prepare yourself for the challenge? How do you prepare to be the glue holding your team together, where your performance affects the whole team and ultimately the success of the business?
Here’s our seven tips for overcoming the challenges faced by first time managers:
GET THE MEASURE OF YOUR PEOPLE: Learn what makes your team tick. Learn about their individual characters, their traits, their ambitions and identify with their individual feelings. Celebrate the individual as well as the team on a whole. Knowing what motivates people will give you clues in how best to move a team forward, whilst making them feel individual and valued. Being empathetic, and encouraging instils confidence in others.
KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE BUSINESS: It helps to know what’s happening across the business. Don’t be insular. Familiarise yourself with the objectives and challenges across the business, as well as the culture, not just in your own area. This will help you understand where you and your team fit in and ultimately how you and your team impact on the success of the business. Help your team to understand this too. As people we need to feel that what we do is important and that we’re all working towards something big! Having that knowledge and understanding will also help steer your decision making and the direction of the team.
RECOGNISE AND CELEBRATE SUCCESS: It’s so important to give credit where credit is due and to do it in a timely and consistent way. When extra effort goes unnoticed, it can be demoralising for the individual and for the whole team. When it’s recognised and celebrated it boosts motivation and increases engagement which in turn boosts productivity and the strength of the team.
ONE ON ONE TIME: Realise the importance of spending one on one time with your team members. Make this a priority for regular, consistent times to talk through any issues, concerns, expectations and successes with your people. Be generous with your time, your advice and with others.
A SHIFT IN MINDSET: Your challenge and focus was previously how to accomplish your own tasks, now the challenge and focus is how to help your team accomplish theirs. This requires a shift in mindset. You need to start thinking like a leader. So as your role changes, so should your mindset.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DELEGATE: You may feel that by the time you’ve shown a team member how to do something you may as well have done it yourself. This doesn’t always have to be the case. Put the time and trust in your team and the pay out in time, confidence, engagement, and shared ownership will far out weigh this mindset. Imparting responsibility to others, particularly where it is craved will benefit the team, increasing their confidence and your confidence in them. But be smart and be clear about what you’re delegating and why.
DEVELOP THE TEAM: Make professional development an essential part of the agenda. Take time to understand the team’s development needs. Talk to them, and ask if they really understand their role and the expectations of the role. What do they feel is lacking, or what do they need to get ahead? This will help identify development and training needs and may flag up where team members aren’t happy or don’t feel motivated. Developing a game plan for growth with the ambitions of the team in mind will add to the team’s success.
At Acceler8 Training, we’re all over this. Helping you overcome the challenges and helping your team flourish, is what we’re all about.