Posts Tagged ‘transition to leadership’
I recently enjoyed an older Robert Stephen Kaplan blog post over at Psychology Today in which he debates the validity of the phrase “It’s lonely at the top.” As we move up the ladder in any field, our peer groups grow smaller, and that can be a very lonely feeling.
Before you were promoted to a supervisory position, if you had hard day or a difficult decision you needed to talk through, you probably had a variety of people to turn to: your immediate supervisor, your team members, your friends and family. Now the path to good advice is not as obvious.
Establish a network you can turn to for both friendship and advice by:
- Looking beyond your department. Just because you don’t know anything about accounting doesn’t mean that you won’t relate to the manager of the finance department. If you’re in a large organization, connect with others in supervisory roles. Your teams might do very different work, but you may find that your day-to-day managerial situations are quite similar.
- Seeking a mentor. If your organization doesn’t automatically set you up with a mentor (and most don’t), track one down yourself. A good mentor can provide guidance during tough times and can help you anticipate issues before they become problems.
- Joining a professional group. LinkedIn groups provide advice and support to their members. Pose a question to a group and you’re likely to receive some thoughtful answers. Better yet, engage with the group by answering others’ questions and not only will you gain their appreciation, but you’ll increase your own confidence. If you’d rather meet in person, check Meetup.com for business or networking groups in your area—and start your own if one doesn’t already exist.
How do you fight loneliness as you move toward the top?
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Trust is in short supply, according to a poll by Maritz Research. It found that employees were more distrustful of their organizations’ management than they were one year ago. Maritz cites “poor communication, lack of perceived caring, inconsistent behavior and perceptions of favoritism” as leading factors in the erosion of trust. Here are a few of the more staggering findings:
- Only 10% of employees trust their managers to make smart decisions in times of uncertainty.
- Just over 10% think their organization’s leaders are honest and ethical.
- Only 12% believe that their employers genuinely care about their staff.
Don’t risk those kinds of statistics in your workplace. Follow these 10 tips to maintain—or increase—your team’s trust:
- Align your words and actions. Follow through with your commitments and promises. Honor the behaviors you claim are important to you—and engage in them yourself.
- Give credit to those who deserve it. When you present a success to your boss, acknowledge the person or people who made it happen. Your boss will equate your team’s successes with your leadership successes, and your employees won’t resent you for stealing their glory.
- Keep an even emotional keel. Stay professional—especially when things go wrong.
- Invest in your employees. Give your staff opportunities to improve and learn new skills. Offer them chances to take on new tasks. When they see that you are invested in their future, they’ll trust you more in the present.
- Share information. Some information is confidential, of course, but be open about the rest. Ease your team’s fears by explaining what’s going on and why. Don’t let them be the last to find out about organizational changes.
- Stop micromanaging. When you make an assignment, clarify the objectives and deadlines, but have the confidence in your employees to let them figure out the best steps to get there.
- Put an end to gossip and bullying. As a leader it’s inappropriate for you to engage in gossip about your co-workers. When you hear it—or see any signs of bullying—nip it in the bud immediately.
- Listen to your staff. Often front-line employees have the clearest insight about potential organizational improvements. Pay attention to what they say. Better yet, ask them for their thoughts.
- Don’t harp on failures. You need to address problems and mistakes to figure out what you and your team can learn from them, but keep the focus on the future, not the past. You shouldn’t stifle intelligent risk-taking behavior; it’s an asset that you want to foster in your employees.
- Be effective. Identify your weaknesses as a leader and as an employee of your organization, and take action to overcome them. If your employees think you’re incompetent, they won’t trust you—and rightly so.
How else do you foster trust at work?
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Congratulations, you just accepted a new job as supervisor! After celebrating the victory, reality sinks in and you wonder whether you even know what to do. Your primary role is now staff management, so how do you begin?
The best way to start a new chapter is to lay a good foundation. Establish important building blocks that will help you manage and communicate more effectively.
Set yourself up for success on your first day by following these organizational tips:
- Begin task lists. Reflect upon the goals of your team and organization. Brainstorm ways to make progress. Identify and record individual assignments that will help reach your targets.
- Set up electronic tools. Discover ways in which technology can help you organize. For example, create group email lists to speed up communications. Establish file-sharing protocol and group calendars.
- Make up a staff meeting schedule. Plan to meet with your team regularly, perhaps once a week or biweekly. Offer consistency by sticking to the same time and day. Spend your first meeting going over goals and expectations. Include a discussion to establish a clear vision.
- Schedule one-on-one meetings. Meet with individuals on your team once or twice each month. Use your first meetings to discover their current roles and personal aspirations. Future sessions can be meetings or informal chats, depending on what works best for you and your team.
- Start private files for each employee. It’s never too soon to think about annual reviews. Plan on recording accomplishments, failures, and both positive and negative behaviors throughout the year. This information will help you later on to more efficiently and thoroughly prepare review documentation.
What other organizational methods will help new supervisors get started?
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Change is a major part of life—and so is resistance to it. So when you inherit a team that is resistant to your new role and the changes that come with it, be prepared. Engage your resistant team with the following techniques:
- Acknowledge the change. Your employees will appreciate your candidness when you openly discuss your plans for change. Your honesty and directness will help you settle your staff’s nerves and earn their trust. Explain that it’s an adjustment for the whole team—including yourself—and you’ll learn how to adapt together.
- Talk about personal and team goals. Ask your team members what they want from the organization, from team meetings and from you as a manager. Assure them that the new team will be productive and creative under your supervision.
- Find the unofficial leaders. Undoubtedly there is a person or two on the team that the rest look up to, trust and follow. Conduct a little detective work to figure out who they are. Have a private conversation with them during which you explain your professional ethics, ideas and goals for the team. Do your best to win them over and in turn the rest will follow.
- Encourage feedback. Show your employees that you value their opinions. Ask for ideas on how to improve the team as a whole or even your own managerial style. That will encourage them take ownership of the change.
What are your best tips for gaining buy-in from your team?
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I’ve been thinking about work/life balance a lot lately, so when I ran across that quote from American opera singer Jessye Norman, I knew I wanted to share it with you:
Finding balance can be difficult for anyone, but it’s harder when you’re responsible for many people. If you manage a team of five, you can easily be pulled in seven different directions: five for those employees, one for your boss and one for yourself. And that’s just at work.
Often, it’s easiest to put your needs last. Then, at least, you don’t have to worry about someone coming to your office to complain. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can’t put yourself last day after day. Not only is it exhausting, but it makes you resentful. And you can’t be a good manager if you’re overtired and bitter.
That’s not to say that you can’t be generous with your time and energy. The best leaders are. But they’re also generous to themselves. They make time to ensure that their needs are met too. So make sure you carve out a little time for yourself this weekend, and enjoy it!
What’s your favorite inspirational quote? Share it in the Comments section, and we might turn it into a “Wise words” post.