Being promoted from within a department or team to manager of that group can be a fraught process, in addition to being exciting and rewarding.
New managers were often high achievers in their previous role and have been rewarded with promotion. But being a manager usually means doing less of the job that got them the promotion in the first place, and doing more leading and directing. For some this is a relatively straight forward shift, while for others it can feel very foreign and unnatural, as they shift further away from their primary skill set.
In addition, new managers, who expect greater authority in their new managerial role, are often surprised by the constraints the new role places on them. They are now answerable not only to their seniors but also to the team they lead, whose demands may at times be conflicting.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of aspects of management that are incredibly rewarding and valuable. Below are some tips for working out whether a managerial role is right for you, as well as suggestions for new managers who are struggling with the transition.
Questions to ask yourself before taking on a managerial role
Start with what you know
- Consider your relationship with your current and previous managers: What you have appreciated and benefited from your own managers. Are the traits and behaviours which you valued in them ones you believe you can replicate yourself? Are the actions and decisions which you disagreed with issues you can envisage yourself avoiding?
- Consider your relationship with your team members and other teams within the organisation: If you will be taking a managerial role within your current team, consider your relationship and working interactions with each team, and whether you would be comfortable having a position of authority over them. If you beginning a managerial role with a new team entirely, consider the dynamics within your previous team which did and did not work, and contemplate what role a manager has in navigating these dynamics.
- Am I comfortable making decisions which will affect other people? As a manager you will need to make decisions with a greater reach than those you’ve made before. Some people will relish this opportunity to have a greater impact, but others may find it an intimidating prospect.
- Am I comfortable with conflict? All roles will involve conflict from time to time. The difference for managers is that it is generally their responsibility is to quell the conflict and minimise the fallout. This may involve confronting people directly about their behaviour or performance. Consider whether you are willing to have these kind of interactions, even with people you have a friendly personal relationship with.
- Am I willing to share my team’s successes, and take on my team’s failures? The wins and losses your team makes will become a critical indicator of your own. Ask yourself if you are comfortable taking on responsibility for other people’s errors and missed deadlines. It can be quite an uncomfortable adjustment, moving from having autonomy and ownership over your output to having to answer for a whole team’s performance.
Once you are in the role
- Focus on the team, rather than the individual: A manager’s job is to make the most of the collective power of the group. There’s a crucial balance a manager needs to strike between friend and boss. Overly friendly relationships can complicate the workplace, while constant distance and aloofness can isolate a manager. The balancing point will be different for each team and may take some time to find.
- Delegate: As a manager, your role is less about getting the small tasks done, and more about organising others to do them on their own. For individuals who like to have complete control over their output this can be anxiety-provoking. But delegation is crucial – a manager needs to drive the overarching strategy and simply cannot do their team members’ jobs for them. Handing over control to others will occasionally be time-consuming – teaching others often seems like harder work than simply doing it yourself. But delegation will ultimately save you time and stress, so be sure to set aside time to hand over tasks.
- Embrace ruffling feathers: As a new manager you may feel under pressure to prove you can keep everything running smoothly. Don’t forget that a manager is also responsible for instigating change where it is needed. This may involve challenging established organisational processes or structures.
- Brush up on your administrative and financial understanding: You don’t need to be an accountant to become a manager. However, team managers do need to demonstrate an understanding of administrative processes and basic financial models because they are usually responsible for internal budget allocations. Budget management also involves working with other teams and departments to complete projects and meet deadlines, which will impact the output of your broader team.
AIM is delighted to be able to offer Australian and New Zealand managers and leader the opportunity to achieve Chartered Manager – an internationally recognised, rigorously assessed and highly regarded gold standard designation for managers and
leaders. For those stepping up to new management roles this is an invaluable opportunity. For more information visit the AIM website.