The New Manager’s Compass to Systemise Your Department, Develop Management Skills, and Report to the Board with Confidence
You’ve been instrumental in driving notable successes through your previous operations role, but now that you’ve transitioned into a new management position, you’re feeling unsure about your skills and ability to lead. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. It can be challenging moving from a role where you were ‘one of the guys’ to becoming a vital communications channel between operations and the core business, and perhaps most worrying of all is that every single decision you make is visible across the board.
A position where you need to communicate both up and down the organisational structure can be tricky to navigate, which is why you need a compass; a roadmap to systemise your department, develop management skills, and report with confidence.
Getting to Know Your Team
The first stop on any strategic roadmap is to take the time to get to know your team. You’re responsible for your team’s success, and any mistakes you make in your approach will have a much larger impact than when you were in your previous operational role. Now is the time to learn how a new manager can perform a team skills gap analysis to identify what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs improvement. By understanding the capabilities of your team - and figuring out where additional training may be beneficial - it becomes much easier to develop your management skills in a way that drives success while supporting your key resources.
A team skills gap analysis shows you where your team currently stands, and where they need to be in order to meet targets and stand out to the board. It also enables you to reposition specific team members with niche talents, putting them in the best place to bridge any gaps and help you to more efficiently and effectively move forward with your project. You know what’s expected of you, and you’re passionate about developing your team both personally and professionally. Getting to know your team, and performing a skills gap analysis, is the foundation of driving successful results.
Finding Time to Grow
As a new manager, you may have found that there are two major obstacles that are preventing you from developing your management skills in a way that really makes a difference. The first obstacle is that you feel as though you’re being pulled in a number of different directions, leaving you with little time to focus on your own growth within the role. Before being moved into a managerial position, you were probably very service oriented, and accustomed to getting the job done instantly. Now, you’re expected to carry out your responsibilities while also playing a significant role in business decision making, which can be challenging. Employing new time management skills can help.
By adopting practical time management activities for new managers to help efficiently structure their time between team members, board meetings, and their own tasks, managers can position themselves to better handle the variety of internal clients who are constantly demanding solutions. The need to be putting out little fires everywhere won’t disappear, but time management skills can reduce their impact.
Developing Your Management Skills
The second obstacle that may be standing in your way of success is the ‘curse of knowledge’. Having taken a proactive approach to your previous operational role, you’ve ‘been there, done that’; you have experience on your side, but when transitioning into a different position, this experience can prevent you from changing and adapting your approach in line with the new requirements of the role. That’s why external support networks and management leadership online courses can help shape the leaders of the future, like yourself; they are designed to override previous experience with practical, hands-on learning to help you improve as a manager.
At first, it’s natural to feel uneasy and even somewhat scared of making mistakes in the office, especially with all eyes on you. You’re keen and eager to learn and develop yourself to minimise the risk of mistakes and ensure you’re prepared for any situation, but traditional training opportunities don’t fit the bill. You don’t learn by listening; you learn by doing. Practical training which offers the essential skills and personal tools needed to handle day-to-day situations with employees is best for leadership.
These online courses can also provide direction as you begin leading your team through change. Understanding how new managers can use change management leadership tools to help teams adapt through change is key for any leader who has been wondering what will help employees to accept the new changes willingly.
While you are having to adapt to your new role as a leader, your team is also having to adapt to changes in the organisational structure, changes in the hierarchy, and changes in how they’re managed, and this is something that is often overlooked. Through understanding and acknowledging the needs of the team at this time, new managers can build the foundations of a happy, inspired, and motivated team that feels supported, feels able to ask for help when needed, and feels confident.
Driving Success in Diverse Teams
Prior to transitioning to your new role, you may already have been aware of the fact that your team would be made up of individuals of all different ages and backgrounds. What may not have been so clear, however, is the fact that your new team is also made up of individuals with distinct personalities stemming from differences in cultural beliefs to differences in experiences, passions, interests, confidence level, and more. Understanding the different personality types you may find in a team, and how to manage them effectively, is key to delivering an individual, impactful approach.
To be a good leader is to be able to draw upon your range of management skills and adjust your approach to each of the different personalities within your team. Being a good manager is a bit like being a chameleon, and while it’s not possible to be everything to everyone, it is possible to give individuals the support they all need. In your previous role, you were happy to do things your own way. Now, it’s becoming increasingly clear that different people may respond to different management styles.
Of course, in diverse teams where everyone has their own preferred style and their own ways of working, there is potential for conflict, and this is something that new managers should be aware of. Conflict management training makes it easier to understand how to identify different types of conflict and deal with it quickly and effectively. A very common situation that new managers often find themselves in is that they are very aware of the need to resolve conflict, yet lack the management skills and tools needed to handle these situations in a way that delivers a clear outcome for everyone involved.
New leaders often have two roles to fill. Firstly, they must show the board that they can be trusted to make the right decisions for the business. Secondly, they must show their team that they support them and are committed to helping them achieve their goals.
Great results cannot be delivered without taking into account both sides of the coin. Incorporating both into your approach can be tricky, but there are certain management and leadership skills for new managers and supervisors that will help you to become a great leader that the board trusts and the employees admire. These management skills help you manage up the chain as effectively as down the chain.
Without these specific leadership and management skills, it is easy for leaders to fall into the trap of simply trying to ‘force’ employees to comply with the new management style, without supporting them or guiding them through change. New leaders, keen to prove their value to the board and justify the promotion, may also be tempted to micromanage employees. Both of these techniques can do more harm than good.
To deliver great results, it’s important to understand the effects of leadership styles on team motivation. Understanding this will make it much easier to build and generate a happier, more efficient team willing and able to deliver better results, and this means utilising management skills that facilitate happy people.
By nature, you may have quite a directive management style, and learning how to lead in a different way can prove to be quite the challenge. But it’s worth it. You know just how vital it is to motivate people and make sure that they love what they do and that they do it well, and this can occur naturally through implementing management styles based on trust and autonomy, which offer teams the freedom to succeed.
Building a Positive Team Culture
Motivation can be achieved through the direct application of excellent management skills, but it can also be achieved through focusing these skills on building a positive team culture that nurtures talent and inspires employees to do truly great things.
There’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to building a positive team culture, and this will largely depend on the type of personalities you have within your team, and the type of industry that you’re working in. However, there are certain tactics that new managers can use for building a good team culture that ensure the right employee is in the right seat to deliver the best results every time. A measured, considered approach in this way helps to align individual team members so that they are working towards a common goal, supported by each other.
The biggest challenge in building a positive team culture is that it can be difficult to measure success. If things are going wrong within your team, as a manager you’re sure to hear about it. When employees are happy, however, you might not see them or hear from them so it’s hard to know when you’re doing something right. That’s why it’s important to check in with your team regularly, asking for their feedback and opinions.
By building a positive team culture and a positive relationship with your employees, it also becomes easier to communicate… even when you need to deliver bad news. Although there are numerous effective communication techniques any new manager can use when delivering bad news to employees, having the support of that good team culture and friendly environment can help to make difficult situations a bit less stressful. Difficult conversations exercises can be invaluable here, especially if this is an area where you lack experience.
As a manager, you’re very aware that, although rare, a part of your new responsibility is to perform ‘bad news conversations’. These are never easy for either party, and you may feel nervous about handling these situations effectively, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to being direct, but not always diplomatic. However, it’s important to remember that one of the reasons that you were promoted to your new position over all possible potentials is your ability to excel at personal communication. You have what you need; you just need the tools to put your inherent management skills into action.
Communicating with the Board
Even in your new managerial role, you might still be finding it difficult to get your proposals and projects approved by the board. This situation isn’t unique to you; many new leaders find themselves in a similar position, and it happens because you’re most likely approaching the ‘up’ in the same way as you’re approaching the ‘down’; you’re employing the same management skills for board members as you do for your team.
Communicating with the board is different, and requires a different style. There is a range of presentation techniques that new managers can use to get their plans approved by the board and secure project budget which can make handling the ‘up’ much more straightforward. These techniques focus on leadership. While you may feel scared about disappointing your superiors by not hitting goals and therefore want to take a more passive approach, moving forward with confidence and leadership skills is key.
You might feel frustrated that you can’t get your proposals approved by your superiors, and the truth is that there’s no magic solution. Instead, it’s all about gaining more experience in your role; in understanding the best methods for presenting and communicating your strategies, in grabbing opportunities for hands-on, practical learning, and developing your management skills in a way that helps you to succeed.