For all you new leader-managers out there and you know who you are. Until recently, you were performing as a super-star engineer, programmer, scientist, accountant, sales rep, to name a few and then you were offered the opportunity to manage. This step up was what you had been working towards. It is a sign of success not to mention prestige and more money.
Now, how long have you been in this new position? How are you feeling about your new role? Is this new opportunity a trick or a treat?
And what about those managers who have risen up through the leadership ranks and aren’t new to the game. How are you feeling about your role these days? With all the stress during these economically challenging times, is leadership still fun? Do you still have the passion?
Turning Leadership Tricks into Treats for New Leaders
All too often, I am called in to work with a new manager who is having challenges with their new role. The company leadership had great expectations for their high potential employee who performed miracles as a line employee, yet was not meeting their expectations in their new management role. The struggling manager is often frustrated in their new role and doesn’t know how to make the necessary adjustments to be successful.
What now? If you recognize yourself as one of these managers here are some tips for turning the situation around.
- Review your job description and the skills that are needed to support the job. Determine in your own mind, through self-assessment, which skills are ones that you have had little opportunity to develop before moving into the job. How critical are these skills to your future success as a manager?
- Prioritize the skills you need to develop. Ask yourself, are these skills I am committed to developing? If they aren’t then you have a tougher question to ask: Do I really want to be a manager-leader moving forward? What am I passionate about at work?
- If you are committed to developing the necessary skills then sit down with your manager, review your analysis and jointly create a leadership development plan.
Experienced Leaders Moving from Tricks to Treats
All the critical skills for leader-managers are the soft skills, those that relate to interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Unlike intelligence, emotional intelligence can be changed. It is all about choosing how you react in different situations and different types of people. Bottom line leading is all about people.
So you’ve been in your management role for a number of years, you enjoy developing teams, yet often the actions of team members can frustrate you turning your leadership “treat” into a “trick”. What steps can you take to decrease the number of “tricks” your employees play on you so that you are increasing the performance of your team to create a higher level of success for all?
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Coaching Employees to Greater Performance
In one word, start coaching employees. Now this is easier said than done and if you haven’t had experience coaching, I recommend getting some training in managerial coaching or reading up on the process and techniques of coaching. Two good books to start with are: Coaching for Performance (People Skills for Professionals) by John Whitmore and The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business by James M Hunt and Joseph R Weintraub.
Once you have the basics down, be very observant during your interactions with team members for those moments when an employee is creating a “trick” versus a “treat”. The “trick” can take on a number of behaviors such as lack of follow through, poor communications, inability to deal with team conflict etc. Make sure that when the time comes to coach, that the employee being coached is ready to be self-reflective and open to options.
Asking open ended questions to get the team member to explore her options and choose her own path of self improvement is the goal. The hardest part is to listen while she talks it out through your guided questions, and NOT to jump in with your own solution. When you loose patience and give them your solution, there is no learning that takes place, the employee is not as committed to the solution if it was her own, and performance is not improved.
Practicing and becoming proficient in coaching your employees will increase your leadership “treat” in the future as there is nothing more rewarding than to see employees reach their full potential. Your passion for leadership will be fulfilled.