Things are going great with your career.
In fact, you’re doing such a good job that you’ve just been promoted.
But wait a minute, now there’s a new “you” – a fresh-faced newbie just starting their career – and they report to you. You’re a boss, a supervisor…suddenly, you’re the one in charge!
Talk about a radical shift in perspective!
How do you deal with this new shift and learn to become a manager?
And not just any manager.
The type of manager that YOU would have wanted to work for when you were first starting out?
Here’s the dilemma: most people in your shoes have gotten absolutely no training or development to prepare you for what it takes to be a manager and lead others.
Small companies especially – but large ones are guilty of this too – often have a “sink or swim” mentality when promoting someone to a supervisory role who’s never done it before.
This is obviously a mistake, but one that many firms make.
If you’re in this situation, what do you do?
Here are three simple steps that will help prepare you to be a manager:
1. Learn from experts:
Find out whether your company will provide you with professional development – if you’re good at what you do, your company should be more than willing to invest in you.
If your company won’t provide you with these resources or reimburse you for taking initiative, there’s a ton of free information available online about being a first-time boss and many excellent books on the topic as well. (See Resources box)
2. Learn from the most respected leaders in your organization:
Look around your organization.
Figure out who the best leaders are and learn from them.
Most likely you’ll gravitate towards the ones you respect and that have already provided you mentorship when you first began.
Tell them you want to learn from them.
Ask them to tell you what they know about being a boss. Ask for feedback on your own supervisory skills as they grow and evolve.
Finally, make this a regular part of your professional development by asking 3-4 people to mentor you and checking in with them monthly until you begin to feel you have mastered some of the skills you need.
3. Learn from the people you supervise:
Sometimes your most critical path to becoming a better leader is sitting right next to you.
To leverage this, simply find out what the person/people who report to you need to be successful in their jobs, and get suggestions and feedback from them.
How? Just ask them.
They may have even less experience than you, so the point here is not to take every one of their ideas to heart. Rather, it’s to get into the habit of asking your team what they need from you as their leader to be successful
Over time, you’ll get better at asking, and they’ll get better at giving you useful feedback and suggestions.
Finally, keep in mind that becoming a great boss and leader takes work and perseverance, like any skill.
Managers or supervisors that you admire and work with started out in the exact same position you’re in now.
Great leaders make it a priority to start early in becoming better at what they do.
They acknowledge that they aren’t perfect and seek out the help and advice they need to continually exceed their organization’s expectations – and their own.
Sue Matson is a partner with no-nonsense stakeholder centered executive coaching firm rd&partners headquartered in Chicago, IL. Her clients consistently see tangible, real-world benefits from working with her in a supportive and honest way to make behavioral changes that fundamentally improve the organization’s bottom line and their own career success. Read more articles like this on her blog.
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