Taking on your first official management role is exciting. It’s also challenging, overwhelming and perplexing. In a webinar with over 900 first-time managers, The Ken Blanchard Companies asked people to list their biggest challenge when they made the leap from individual contributor. David Witt, Program Director for Blanchard, wrote about their responses in this LinkedIn article.
Making the leap from “leading one’s self” to “leading others” is of keen interest to me, so I reached out to the Blanchard Companies for more information on their new program for first time managers. Turns out, it’s of high interest to them as well, because research indicates that few companies invest in training new supervisors on the “people” elements of their job. Here are the three categories of challenges outlined by David Witt, and commentary from Ken and Scott Blanchard on these challenges. In addition, I’ve added resources to help you resolve these issues, if they’re of concern to you.
“People” Issues. This was the most-cited challenge that people attending the Blanchard webinar faced. They listed things like conflict management, improving morale, and building trust. One of the key elements in this category was the challenge of supervising one’s former peers. When people get promoted, they have to reconsider their relationship with their former peers, notes Ken Blanchard. Ken told me, “[New managers] go from being ‘one of the guys’ to now when they walk into the lunchroom, nobody wants to talk with them. It’s a shock. New managers need to understand they’re playing a different role on the team now.”
Resources for making the transition to new leader:
Read “From Bud to Boss.”
Performance Management Issues. These challenges are related to the “mechanics” of managing: setting goals, coaching team members, redirecting poor performance, conducting formal performance reviews. Goals, in particular, are especially important. Ken Blanchard puts it very simply: “All good performance starts with clear goals.”
Resources for performance management:
Jen’s best advice on this one: form an excellent relationship with your HR manager. It’s fun to mock them ala Dilbert, but believe me, you want your HR rep on your side, not in battle with you.
Read the Blanchards’ take on goal setting.
Check out Art Petty’s blog Management Excellence.
Here’s a great overview of writing an employee performance review by Halogen Software’s Melany Gallant.
“Coping” Issues. This was the third-most mentioned issues new managers faced. These concerns were related to one’s personal use of resources, such as time management, prioritization and work-life balance. Scott Blanchard told me, “The transition can be emotionally stressful for young managers. Things change; they’re not invited to the after-work hours events; they’re being unfriended on Facebook.”
Resources for coping with being a new leader
Write a personal social constitution to help you focus on what matters most.
Read my “Zen of Jen” series on coping with life—both inside and outside of work.
Use the simple “Great Dane” model for prioritizing.
When you move from “one of the team” to “leading the team” there are tremendous changes. Don’t leave the success of your management transition to chance. Investigate a few of these ideas to help you make a strong start.
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