January 24, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Becoming a manager provides great on-the-job training opportunities for the recent college grad or entry-level employee. It not only provides opportunities to grow as a leader, but also as a professional. In fact, many managers – years down the road – realize that the hidden skills they developed as an entry-level manager helped them grow professionally, more than they ever realized.
How so? Becoming a manager – a good manager that is, forces individuals to learn how to see things differently, act differently, and grow as a professional, differently than they may have if they weren’t in a leadership position early in their career.
Here are five of those hidden skill sets good entry-level managers develop that prove beneficial as they advance in their career, from Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian, a human capital management firm:
- Active Listening: Active listening is a beneficial skill that should be developed early on in ones’ career. It means taking a step back and really focusing in on what your employees have to say. By doing so, you will hear and learn about situations or issues at work or beyond that may be affecting your employees. This is information that you may otherwise miss if you didn’t take the time to actively listen.
- Ability to recognize non-verbal cues: Developing the ability to read non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or posture is an important skill when it comes to managing people and solving issues. Why? Because sometimes what people say is not entirely what they mean. Alongside listening, non-verbal cues provide insight into potential issues that may need further discussion and solving. Also, as a manager, you need to become more self-aware of any non-verbal cues that you may be expressing. This type of self-awareness will help you gain more control over your message delivery when giving feedback.
- The ability to adapt and change: Another valuable skill to hone in on is being able to change your leadership style to meet the needs of the situation. Even as a manager, you yourself will report to someone. Your style of leadership around those who you report to may need to be different from the style you display around your direct reports. In some cases, you need to be supportive of the individual employee as their leader and in others, you need to put the company’s mandate first. You’ll quickly learn, as a manager, how to work with different personalities, leaderships styles (including your own and your boss’ leadership styles), and the many quirks, challenges, and perspective each individual brings to the workplace.
- The art of recognition: The art of recognition is a skill that every leader should have when it comes to motivating employees. Remembering to say thank you goes a long way. If you take the time to recognize the work that employees are doing, it makes them feel valued. They will respect you further and you will be seen as that leader who is supportive – someone who people will want to work with, for a long time.
- You are a role model: Lastly – and this is not so much a skill, but an important value that both new and seasoned managers should uphold – remember, that you are a role model. That means regularly doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching or paying attention. Leadership is nothing, without integrity.
Being a manager is hard work – not everyone can do it. But you are in that role, and have a great opportunity to develop hidden skill sets as a young professional. So take advantage of both on-the-job, and formal training programs to become the best manager one can be.
“You will want to be sure that you have up-to-date skills in the areas of leadership, change management and the technical aspects of your role,” says Shirley Weis, former Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic, where her work involved overseeing 60,000 employees and $9 billion in revenues. Weis recently published the book Playing to Win in Business, an Amazon bestseller. “Formal training will help you feel more comfortable in your new position and give you the confidence to become an expert in your field.”
To continue to develop these skills now, and throughout one’s career, focus on cross-training opportunities and finding a mentor, says Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner with Insight Performance, recognized as a national industry leader in human resources, providing proven and cost-effective HR solutions.
“Learn other sides of the business,” says Saperstone. “Don’t just stay in your silo’d responsibilities. The more you can understand the business, where your group fits in and how it impacts the rest of the company, the more you can contribute.”
As a new manager, you will want to get to know other managers in your organization. They are now your peers, so set up a time to meet each one individually and get to know about the challenges they are facing as well as ask for advice about how you can learn the new rules of the management game, says Weis.
Finally, find someone in the business that can be a mentor, says Saperstone. At the same time, be a mentor to someone more junior than you.
“Not only will you help them grow, but it’s always good to get a different perspective from someone else,” says Saperstone.
Becoming a manager provides all sorts of new career growth opportunities. Developing skill sets such as these not only will help young professionals now, but as they advance in their career. Take advantage of these opportunities now to reap the rewards later.
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 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 03, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
To become a manager, one must show an employer they possess a wide variety of skills. Leadership skills are crucial. So is the ability to communicate, handle adversity, and deal with diverse personalities and skill sets.
A first-time manager must also develop strong critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills to be successful, says Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder of Girls’ C.E.O. Connection™ (Girl’s Creating Enterprising Organizations), a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to engaging and equipping high school girls as entrepreneurs. They also must show the company can trust them, which is why they were hired as a manager.
“A manager is the one with the ability to plan, direct and coordinate the operations of a business, division, department or operations,” says Scott. “To be a first-time manager as a recent graduate shows the company trusts the person and believes in his or hers capabilities and ability to help grow the company.”
In February Scott is speaking to a group of college women, primarily seniors, at the University of Colorado, about what it takes for first-time managers to succeed. She will focus on these eight skills, traits and attributes of a successful first-time manager:
- Know and understand your company culture.
- Know the parameters of your particular position. That includes how much leeway you have on decision making.
- Ask questions and get clarity even if you think you understand. As a manager you don’t have time for you and/or your staff to make mistakes.
- Expect the best-not perfection from your staff. Praise them when it is appropriate. If there are issues face them immediately.
- Learn each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Play on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
- Control your emotions, tongue, and actions. Avoid gossip, even after hours or with colleagues. Take a break if someone is pushing your buttons. Watch the tone of your emails when responding to challenges, and watch the tone of your voice.
- Always use proper English, grammar and spelling when writing any type of communication, even an email. They need to be as clearly written as any other business communication.
- Find a mentor within the company and then one outside your company that knows the ropes of being a manager and what is needed to excel.