So just what does it take to be successful in a management or leadership role? No matter if you are a new manager or seasoned veteran, here’s the top ten things you need to do to give yourself the best chance of success:
1. Take responsibility. Know exactly what you are responsible for in terms of outcomes, people and resources. If you want to keep your new role, you need to figure out how to achieve your outcomes with the available people and resources. You need to accept responsibility if your team fails to deliver and pass the credit to them when you succeed.
2. Engage your team. Meet with your team as soon as possible and get their buy-in. Don’t pretend to know it all, ask regularly for their ideas and feedback on how as a team you can achieve the business goals and outcomes. LISTEN carefully and take note of what they say. Find out what the team needs from you as their manager to perform at their peak level. Set regular meetings always with an agenda,time frame and clear outcomes.
3. Have the difficult conversations quickly. You need to realign your relationships with the people who used to be your peers and friends and let them know your expectations. You have been hired to achieve an outcome, not to be liked. You need to be aware that all your skills (and patience) will be tested as a manager. Praise good work in public and meet promptly and privately to deliver feedback when people don’t perform. If you let the small things slide, the big things will quickly follow.
4. Manage agreements, not people. (My #1 tip to maintaining your sanity) You must inspect what you expect. It is up to you to keep detailed notes of meetings with staff and agreements that have been reached. It is important that you keep your word; never promise what you can’t deliver. I make it a habit to always follow up meetings with an email to confirm my understanding of what was discussed and agreed upon. People who can’t keep their agreements need to be managed out of your organisation.
5. Set the tone and the pace. Your team look to you and over time will become a reflection of the energy that you project. Check your energy level at the door before you enter the office each day. Say, “Good MORNING” to each of your team when you get to the office. You are the role model others will imitate, so that means dressing and being groomed smartly, being early, speaking with positive intent and being highly organised.
6. Create a stop doing list. You are now being paid more than before; therefore you need to generate more value to cover your costs. Just because you are good at doing something does not mean you should continue to do it. Delegate whenever you can and stretch yourself outside your comfort zone.
6. Watch for monkeys. Beware of staff coming to you to ask for assistance with problems (monkeys) and the temptation to let them pass their monkeys onto you. This is a double-whammy problem, it will chew up time you ought to be using to focus on your responsibilities AND it also trains the staff to bring more monkeys your way. eg. If a staff member submits a poor quality report, don’t rewrite it for them, give them your feedback and let them fix it.
7. Invest in training. As a manager you need to continue to improve your skills and knowledge and share this regularly with your team. Make it a priority to improve your leadership skills. Books, CDs, seminars are all helpful; why not start a business library for your team? Add an agenda item onto meetings where each time a different person is responsible for sharing something with the team.
8. Know the difference between important and urgent. Important tasks take you one step closer to your goal. Urgent tasks are time related and normally relate to helping someone else achieve their goals. Set aside at least 20% of your time to work undisturbed on important and not urgent tasks like forward planning, budgets and staff reviews.
9. Get a mentor. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. You need someone to bounce ideas, issues or concerns off of. If you don’t have this inside your organisation, identify someone you trust outside your group and seek advice when needed.
10. Enjoy the ride. Remember to keep breathing, your brain needs the oxygen. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers all of the time. If you’re asked a difficult question, you don’t need to answer right away. You could even say, “That’s a great question, let me look into it” or “Great question, what do you think?”.
Smile, enjoy your new role, don’t sweat the small stuff and the people around you will enjoy having you as their manager.