From taking the orders to giving them

Luke Parker
From taking the orders to giving them

Manoeuvring the transition from team member to team manager can be an interesting and at times challenging experience.

Research presented at the Corporate Executive Board* Learning, Organisation & Development Annual Executive Global Meeting Series in 2007 stated that 60% of new frontline managers underperform during their first two years on the job.

According to one Harvard professor, the problem lies in the fact that many employees who get promoted to managerial positions get there by doing great work and generating value for the company.

But achieving great work yourself and getting a team of people to do the same can be a totally different kettle of fish.

Auckland’s Grafton Consulting Ltd Senior Consultant, Karon Campbell, says the biggest difference when you become a leader is that you now have to achieve success through the efforts of others.

“You need to be able to understand the different styles and motivations and get them to operate as a team. If they are doing the business well then you can be sure that you are too.”

SEE ALSO: Which working style works best?


Becoming the leader of the pack

Karon Campbell Grafton

Karon says one of the big challenges of the new manager is gaining acceptance and developing credibility as a leader, particularly if you take over the leadership of a team who were once your peers.

“You need to give people time to accept the change and set expectations early in the piece. Your relationships with your peers will not be the same now that you are their leader. You will need to be prepared to have different conversations with your team.”

She says it’s important to develop a picture of where you want to take the team, and to articulate that in language which the team can relate to easily.

“Avoid the curse of assumption. Often you know the answer or have the solution, but always ask the key questions and get alternative input and validation before acting.”

Learning how to coach rather than doing or telling is another one of a leader’s key roles.

“You role is to develop your team, not to show them how clever you are and why you got the promotion.”

Karon says making time to get to know your peers and learning from them will also provide invaluable information and experience.

“Other managers in the business are your new peer group, and you will need to build strong relationships here in order to learn and make your mark as a key influencer.”


Leadership traps to avoid:


Not delegating

You have to learn to let go and trust others to do the work without interference. Don’t micro-manage, you know you hate that as much as they do!


Trying to get people to do things exactly how you would

We are all different, so set the boundaries and get out of the way and let them get on with it!


Taking too long to act

When someone or something is going badly don’t leave it and hope for redemption – take action.


Spending too much time on a problem child

Deal with the issue and get them on track or have a plan to set them free to look for other opportunities.


Not keeping in touch and communicating with the pointy end of your business

Know what is going on in the trenches and be aware of what support your team need to meet customer expectations.

Communication is always a key and it's important that you develop your own communication channels and your own style.

Avoid emphasis on negative communication and look for constructive ways to let people know that while they have made a mistake, there are some good learnings to be had.


Don’t neglect yourselfReece-Notton

Grafton Consulting Ltd Senior Consultant, Reece Notton, says spending time on your own development is important for a new manager.

“It’s easy to get buried in the needs of the team and the all-important requirement to add to the success of the business, but you need to ensure that you tap into the experience of other managers. Read lots about good leadership and figure out how formal training and more informal mentoring will provide you with the development you need.”


Reece’s 5 pieces of proactive advice:


Delegate, delegate, delegate

But learn to do it well and when it is appropriate to do so and when it is not. A good mentor might help you with some strategies here.


Acknowledge individual and team achievements

Know how and when to celebrate success with the team.


Respect individual differences

Ask for and listen to the differing points of view, but then make your own decision and communicate it to the team along with your rationale.

But of course you also need to be flexible enough to change your mind! Act with confidence.


Establish boundaries early on

Especially in terms of what you expect from yourself as a leader and what you expect of the team.


Stick to the key principles of fairness, dignity and consistency

Be honest and say what you mean and you will earn the respect of all.


More attributes and traits of a great leader

  • Confidence and credibility (with a bit of humility thrown in).
  • The ability to create and articulate a clear vision, as well as robust plans for execution.
  • A coaching style which gets the best from people and allows them to grow and develop.
  • Having the common sense to seek advice from a mentor when the situation requires it.

SEE ALSO: Which working style works best?


* Corporate Executive Board (CEB) is a global company dealing with best practice insight and technology with a unique view into what matters and what works when driving corporate performance. With more than 30 years of experience, CEB works with top companies to share, analyse, and apply proven practices, to deliver innovative solutions to help a business unlock its full potential.

Every year CEB equip over 20,000 senior leaders from more than 10,000 organizations across 110 countries with the intelligence they need to respond quickly to evolving business conditions. In doing so it helps them more effectively manage their talent, customers and operations to exceed business objectives.

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