Essential Tips: from team player to new manager

Congratulations New Manager!

Here’s the scene: you have been promoted to be the new manager of your existing team.  Congratulations.  I raise my glass to you.

But what’s this?  You are starting to feel nervous about managing people: after all it is now a different relationship.  Even conversations at the coffee machine may be different.  Don’t kid yourself that your relationships will carry on as they did before.  And neither should they as you now have a particular responsibility for overall performance, ensuring everyone’s welfare and not least ensuring that

learning people skills for management
people skills for the new manager

everyone adheres to the rules.  You are now under the microscope by both your former colleagues and also by your senior manager.  Perhaps you will have to make unpopular decisions, potentially be “policeman” and progress chaser.  You may even be unlucky enough to have to make staff cuts among your former peers.

Your relationship has now changed forever and understanding how you can influence your team will rest on your management style.

If you find it very hard to adopt a style that doesn’t feel natural to you, knowing your options will help you to gain confidence. Be careful not to flip-flop between styles without understanding what you hope to achieve as inconsistency in approach can make you appear ingenuous and you could lose the respect of your team.

So what styles might you adopt?  Broadly you will choose from these:

  • Direct (authoritarian) – “do as I say”.  This style is very useful in times of emergency or when your team has little experience and when there is a need to follow exact procedures.
  • Recommend – “you might want to do this…”   A very hands-off style, it passes responsibility for decisions to the team.  This works well where your people possess a high technical ability.  Often used with professional groups, you will need to have a clear vision for the final product and be sufficiently motivated to see it through to the end.
  • Affect – “this will do someone some good”.  This will play towards someone’s emotional response and in a way is carrot and stick tactics.  Encourage your team by painting a picture of how they will bring positive results (happiness) for themselves and others.  Or it could be a vision of painful negative aspects if they don’t do it.  Sometimes known as moving towards or away from method, it is useful in a sales environment where the rewards are high for big sales. However, failure to perform results in low payment or termination from the organisation.
  • Advisory- “you need to do this because it will mean (some positive outcome)…”  This style is really an amalgamation of several styles.  The manager offers guidance to the team but allows them to make the final decisions on how to proceed.  Handled with care, this can offer a level of autonomy within specified standards and parameters.  However, handled badly, you could appear manipulative or shrugging off your own responsibilities.

Consider the type of situations you face

In actual practice you will probably use a varying combination of all these styles according to the situation and environment.  Be very careful of, though,that you are consistent in the style you use for similar situations.  If your team’s looking to you for guidance, clearly you will need to judge how prescriptive you will need to be.

  • Is this an occasion where you need to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in with everyone else? Be careful of micro-managing.
  • Will you offer extra resources and practical suggestions? If so, make sure you have a good understanding of requirements and necessary skills to perform the task.
  • Will you buoy up your team, telling them how much you rely on their ability?  Be careful that you treat each member of the team as an individual so that you are absolutely certain of their support and capability; discuss with them any perceived barriers and problems.  Be scrupulously fair and consistent.  Never abuse their trust or loyalty because once gone, you will never get it back.

Above all, remember to praise highly and thank each person properly for their efforts.  It is astonishing just how motivational the simple act of saying “thank you” is.  Never take the full credit for a job well done if in fact it was done by your team (You can however, take credit for building and developing a great team!)

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© Christine de Caux 2016   All rights reserved

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