January 17, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Some employees, ready or not, are promoted into management roles as a reward for succeeding in their previous job. Others, through education and professional training, get hired into management roles. No matter one’s road to a management job, there is no one-size-fits-all guide that determines when one is really ready to be a manager.
But whether one is a first-time manager, new manager, or seeking a career in management, there are certain skills, traits, and attributes that all good managers have. Mastering these traits can help all managers succeed in a leadership role. Here are seven traits managers must master to successfully prove they are ready to move into a management role:
1. Be willing to change: Many new managers get promoted because they are good at doing a job, says Heggen. Realize that what worked as an individual contributor won’t necessarily work now. “New managers need to understand their own tendencies and learn when they need to change their management style based on the person and the situation,” says Heggen. Adjust and adapt based on individual and team characteristics.
2. Understand mistakes will happen: Mistakes will happen and that’s okay, says Karen Young, the award-winning founder and President of HR Resolutions, a full-service human resources management company. “What’s important is how the mistake is handled,” says Young. “Are you prepared to accept ownership of your mistake? Are you prepared to go to your boss and say this happened, caused by you or your staff member, and this is how we are addressing it? It’s important to create a safe environment for your employees – one in which they feel comfortable coming to you with mistakes.”
3. Conflict identification and resolution: The ability to identify and head off conflict is an important trait new managers need to develop, says Liz Sophia, Senior VP of Marketing for Hodges-Mace, an employee benefits technology and communications company. “New managers tend to shy away from conflict and are more passive aggressive in dealing with employee issues,” says Sophia. A good manager will identify issues upfront and work quickly to resolve them. Conflict resolution is best done in person when available. If not, via phone. Don’t use email or text to solve issues/problems.
4. Hold employees accountable: A manager must hold employees accountable, says Young. That means team members must understand expectations, and follow through on those expectations. As a manager, you’ll have to correct mistakes along the way. When doing so, remember to praise publicly, and constructively criticize privately. “Fixing another’s mistakes is often easier and quicker if you do it, but you, as the manager, have accomplished nothing by doing that,” says Young. Learn how to manage without cramping the style of team members.
5. Learn how to manage up: Managing up is a manner in which a manager works with their boss to effectively get the training, support and resources needed for the position and department. For example, if you want to add a full-time employee into the department, do not go and say “we’re sooooo busy, everyone’s stressed, no one can get their job done.” That’s what the whiny manager does, says Young. Instead, back up requests with proof. Saying something like: “if we added an additional employee, we would save $X.XX in overtime, employee A would be able to begin to make outbound calls to generate more business; employee B would be available then to assist me with Project C.” Always make a business case.
6. Lead by example: You have to be willing to lead by example, says Sophia. If there is no policy around working from home, yet you tend to work from home yourself, it sets the wrong tone for your employees. If you overreact and treat other team members poorly, others may follow that lead. You also have to be mature enough to handle confidential information and not leak it or use it to strengthen your position. Managers set the tone and positive attitude/image of the team/department. Don’t portray negativity or hostility.
7. Strong communication skills: This seems like a no-brainer, but just because one is a manager doesn’t mean they are a skilled communicator. “Knowing how to communicate with different audiences is key,” says Sophia. Communication also includes, tone, body language and non-verbal communication cues. Understand how these affect people’s view of how you are communicating with them. A smile can ease tension, and make one feel more relaxed. A frown, or scowl, can intimidate. These non-verbal cues can change the message greatly.
Mastering these additional skills are also key to proving one is ready to become a manager, says Sophia:
- Be humble and accept input from others.
- Be willing to admit your mistakes, but learn from them and don’t repeat.
- Give your team and peers proper credit for their ideas/contributions. A simple hand-written thank you note goes a long way.
- Know that you don’t have to be perfect in all areas, but make sure that you have folks on your team who compliment your weaknesses.
- Acknowledge your areas for opportunity/growth and nurture them – invest in yourself professionally.
Becoming a good manager takes time, practice, and the ability to continually learn and adapt. Mastering these seven traits is a good start for the aspiring, or newly hired manager wondering if they are ready to manage.
January 12, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Dear Matt: I really like my current job and company. But what I like most is the team I work with. We are all close and get along well. We are also good friends outside of work, and do a lot socially. However, I recently received a promotion, and am now the manager of these co-workers who are also my friends. I went from being part of the team, to leading the team. And now, I have to conduct weekly meetings with them, performance reviews, approve their days off, and face the fact I also suddenly know their salaries. It’s created an awkward situation for me in and outside of work. Do you have any tips for a new manager who is now also managing friends?
Matt: It’s exciting to be promoted, but when you’re now supervising former peers that are also friends, there’s an added complexity to the situation. Here’s how to handle both the professional and personal relationships when you suddenly find yourself managing your friends:
1. Schedule group and individual meetings
To address these changes and challenges, schedule a group meeting, and one-on-one individual meetings with your team, says Arlene Vernon, an HR consultant who provides management training for first-time managers, small business owners, and corporate clients.
Set guidelines and expectations from the start.
“Be prepared for these discussions – do not wing the meetings, as it will look like you’re not taking your new job as supervisor seriously,” says Vernon. “Use the group meeting to set the tone for future meetings and general ground rules for attendance and participation.”
Analyze what was and wasn’t working under the previous supervisor, and decide what to keep and what to tweak. “Don’t bash the previous supervisor, just introduce the enhancements as part of your style,” says Vernon.
Then schedule a one-on-one meeting with direct reports. This is the most important step in this new relationship.
“This helps establish your new supervisory relationship with each individual,” says Vernon. “Some of your former peers may be thrilled that you got this new position – others may not.”
So approach each discussion, taking into consideration each person’s feelings.
Sample one-on-one discussion items may include:
- How you plan to supervise – pointing out where you can be hands off and where you may need to be more hands on.
- How often you want to meet.
- The best ways to communicate with you (in person, email, text).
- The strengths you recognize in the individual and how you want to best utilize those strengths.
“The first discussion is not the time to point out the individuals’ weaknesses and how you want to see them improve,” says Vernon. “This meeting is to set the stage for a successful partnering with each person considering your new role.”
2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Chances are, your friends are truly happy for you and will be supportive and understanding that you have this new role. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes for fear of disappointing friends, says B. Max Dubroff, an HR Consultant at Einfluss, LLC, an HR advisory firm, in Albuquerque, NM. Dubroff has led teams from 2 to 570 people in a wide variety of industries throughout his career, leading those businesses to many best of workplace lists.
“The promotion is a sign of confidence that you can learn to manage and lead well,” says Dubroff. “All manager-leaders make mistakes and are imperfect; the ones who hide their errors or feign perfection are less effective as leaders because they miss out on the lessons of leadership. Manager-leaders who show integrity and embrace their errors will earn credibility, their network of friends will provide feedback and perspective, and their progress will be even greater. Capitalize on the open communication, because in the long run that is what is going to be more important.”
The promotion is also a sign that any awkwardness is your challenge to solve. Tap into the experience of your boss and fellow managers, but in the end, solve it yourself. Also, if you find yourself saying or doing things that you would not respect about your own boss, don’t say/do them; they undermine your integrity.
3. Transitioning from friend to boss
The elephant in the room, of course, is how you handle transitioning from friend to boss. Some people can handle this dual role effectively and others cannot. That goes both ways – from the boss and the employee perspective. So it’s important to discuss this reality with each employee up front and early on.
“Discuss the importance of maintaining a solid relationship with the person along with the recognition that you cannot show favoritism for your friends – that you will be treating everyone as equally as possible,” says Vernon.
Set ground rules for not discussing co-workers or work after hours, during work. Vernon also recommends discussing confidentiality.
“It’s likely you have confidential and/or personal information about your friends that shouldn’t be considered from a boss-employee perspective and the same applies to what private information they have about you,” says Vernon. “These can be difficult discussions, but it’s vital to set communication standards, personal/professional boundaries, and to recognize that while at work, you’re committed to taking your leadership responsibilities seriously.”
4. How to address the relationship in social situations
But even though becoming a supervisor of colleagues who were formally peers does present a somewhat awkward social scenario, it doesn’t mean friendships and social relationships have to end, says Elliot D. Lasson, Professor of the Practice and I/O Psychology Graduate Program Director at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at Shady Grove. In fact, aside from the one-on-one conversations to be open about the changing relationship, Lasson suggests maintaining the same type of social relationship off of the job.
“If socialized together off the clock before the promotion, there is no reason why that should not continue,” says Lasson.
His reason is simple.
“Life and transitions happen,” he says. “The same way that you would include someone who has retired or left for another company beforehand, you should continue to maintain those same social circles. Part of professional maturity is to adapt to new roles and reporting relationships. If there is any anticipated anxiety about the modified role, that should probably be preemptively broached during the one-one-one meeting by the supervisor.”
There could be another added benefit: Your friends may work harder for you because they respect you outside of work. Now you just have to earn their respect as a manager. They also be more willing to bring up issues, concerns, or ideas – positive and negative – because they feel a closer connection to you.
5. Understand things will change
Keep in mind though, that despite attempts to salvage personal and professional relationships, managers must ultimately realize that some personal relationships fall apart when one person is now the supervisor. Whether or not that occurs is unique to each relationship.
Through it all, make sure that you’re consistent in how you interact, oversee, communicate with, and lead all your employees.
“As a manager-leader, you have a responsibility to manage any perceptions of favoritism to the best of your ability,” says Dubroff. “The tough part about this is others may attribute favoritism, even if you know facts that demonstrate otherwise. Since your facts are not going to change their perceptions, the only control you have is through your actions.”
“Everyone is watching to see how you begin your supervisory position and whether they can trust you in that role – to do your job well, be their voice for upper management and treat employees fairly and equitably,” says Vernon.
About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.
January 10, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
For many first-time managers, it can be hard to gain professional respect from a more experienced management team and other senior leaders. It can be discouraging to attend leadership meetings, management training, or be involved in the decision-making process and feel like you don’t have a voice.
Gaining trust as a manager can take time, but it doesn’t mean new managers need to wait, or feel like they have to gain approval from more experienced leaders to start building trust, and credibility within an organization. While the first goal should be to lead your new team and be the best manager you can be, it’s never too early to focus on how to become a manager who can influence others within the organization.
To gain that trust, respect, and a strong reputation, start by being accountable, says Greg Bustin, author of Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture. Bustin has dedicated his career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of companies on this crucial topic of accountability. During the last six years, he has interviewed and surveyed more than 5,000 executives around the world – from companies that include, but are not limited to, Marriott, Container Store, Ernst & Young, Sony, Herman Miller, Nucor, and Southwest Airlines – to understand how high-performing corporations successfully create and sustain a culture of purpose, trust, and fulfillment.
“Lack of accountability is the single greatest obstacle facing even the most experienced leaders,” says Bustin. “It saps morale, drains profits, and disenfranchises employees—and can shift your team into crisis mode on a daily basis.”
Bustin also created the highly popular best and worst in workplace accountability survey, and offers these five tips for new managers looking to make an impact in the organization:
January 09, 2017 by Anna Peters
Contributing writer Ted Bauer
Here’s a statistic that may blow your hair back a little. Per Gallup, 82 percent of managerial hires end up being the wrong one for the company in question. Why is it so hard to be a good manager, and why do so many companies perpetuate bad management? If this 82% stat is true, but there are still companies making tons of profits each year, does bad management truly affect the bottom line?
Why is it so hard to be a good manager?
Laszlo Bock is the VP of People (commonly thought of as Human Resources) at Google. Last year, he gave an interview to UPenn’s Wharton Business School — and within the interview, he hits on a core problem of good management. In his words:
The reason you get promoted is because you’ve done good work, you’ve hit your goals, you’ve made good decisions. You’re in this job, and of course, you immediately want to make good decisions, hit your goals, move things forward. You forget that when you’re an employee you want your manager helping and giving you advice and then kind of getting out of your way.
As a manager, your whole mindset shifts. [Y]ou start saying, I gotta make sure everyone delivers. I gotta micromanage. I gotta watch things. It’s not intuitive as a manager to give people more freedom and back off. That’s one of the things we’ve discovered — that you have to limit the power of managers. Then people perform way, way better.
One of the more popular business books of the past 20 years, Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, refers to this same concept: namely, management isn’t intuitive to most people. Instead of thinking about their new direct reports as people with lives and contexts of their own, many new managers think of employees as productivity targets or KPIs. Limiting the power of managers can actually make organizations more effective, counterintuitive as that might be on face.
The other issue with bad management is training. Per research, most people receive their first managerial role at age 30. Their first managerial training, though, isn’t until age 42. Not all managerial trainings are created equal — some might potentially regress a manager — but to go over a decade between “becoming a manager” and “getting trained to be a manager” is a significant issue.
What’s the tie to the bottom line?
Tony Robbins makes an excellent point about organizations scaling in this interview with Tim Ferriss. The argument is this: at some point, a company is 2-3 people (the founders). Eventually that becomes 5, then 10, then 20, etc. Every time you add a person and another layer, the communication channels become a little bit more frayed. Managing a three-person company vs. a 3,000-person company is hugely different. Companies are often good at scaling production for their products, but scaling the culture and managerial skill sets often gets left behind.
This has consequences. According to one set of research (admittedly from a small sample size), poor leadership costs companies $144,541.30 per day. That might be the annual salary of someone in a leadership role, and their poor leadership is costing the company that amount each day. Additional research from Northwestern has shown that poor leadership, often in the form of unclear priorities and wasted time, costs organizations $15.5 million per year. By contrast, organizations with very strong management levels often double their profits.
There are many metrics people use to attempt measuring “bad management,” and one of the most common is turnover. Bad managers obviously contribute to turnover; most research across the past 30 years has indicated people tend to leave their boss, not their actual job or company. Research from Dale Carnegie Institute at the end of 2016 showed that 41 percent of North American workers planned to try for a new job in 2017. The most-cited reason? Bad management at their current job. That’s nearly half the North American work force entering a new year with one foot out the door. Consistent turnover has many negative repercussions for a company’s bottom line, and losing four of every 10 employees in a calendar year is really bad.
How can we improve managers?
There are dozens of ideas here, but Bock’s advice above makes some sense: limit their power, or shift their focus from “managing productivity” to “managing the priorities of their people.” There’s research from MIT showing that 67 percent of senior leaders can’t name the priorities of their CEO. Once you get a few levels below that, priority assignment is a large game of telephone. As a result of these unclear goals in the middle management levels, research has shown that 21.4 million managers are contributing no economic value back to their company. That’s 17 percent of the U.S. full-time work force, and close to 42 percent of all people holding managerial titles. They could be made more effective with a shift in how they’re measured and compensated.
The other improvement could come from increased training around how to work with different styles of people, how to communicate better, how to align company strategy with daily execution, and the like. One of the most common traits of companies who regularly get on the ‘Best Places To Work’ list, such as Google or Mercedes Benz, is an almost religious commitment to training and developing people. It’s hard to expect managers to improve when they’re waiting 12 years between initial promotion and initial training.