Eight things first-time managers need to learn

The transition of moving from an individual contributor to a people manager is a tricky one

Bhavna Dalal
Updated: Apr 9, 2019 02:26:56 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

Becoming a manager for the first time is a crucial turning point in an individual’s career. Most organisations help employees transition from team members to team leads with leadership development programmes specifically designed for this. It equips them to ease into taking on leadership roles and develop people management capabilities, while enhancing communication and influencing skills. Most importantly, preparing them empowers new managers to manage the change more efficiently. Some of the key modules of such programmes are:

1. Dealing with change
Understanding the nature of change and its effect on teams helps managers develop resilience towards it. They must be taught to develop personal strategies to inspire and navigate through change.

2. Impactful communication
This skill may not have been as necessary as an individual contributor as it is now. They must learn to communicate with impact by developing the ability to read non-verbal cues during a conversation. They must get confident in effective one-many communications. They also have to get comfortable with learning to minimise the chances of conflict amongst team members, but when it does happen, manage it effectively.

3. Influencing skills
Not only do the conversations have to be impactful, but their understanding of the dynamics of persuasive communication also must improve. They must learn to leverage facts, figures, and information to influence effectively without authority.

4. Stakeholder management
Depending on the type of business, building trusting relationships with internal and external stakeholders is a skill that can be learned. Effective stakeholder management enables you to reduce and uncover risks and improve stakeholder perception of success for smooth project closure.

5. People acumen
Some people are naturally good with their people skills. What becomes crucial is to understand the importance of working well with people. This means understanding their team members, building trust and healthy relationships with them, being vested in their career paths and preferences and monitoring behaviour that hinder the common purpose.

6. Personal leadership
This is an excellent time to start thinking about identifying their own leadership style and learning to begin flexing it, to meet the individual needs of team members.

7. Collaboration
Managers must recognise the significance of seeking collaboration within and across teams. Not only do they have to learn to identify the different ways of improving cooperation amongst team members, but they must also identify barriers to effective team collaboration. Their mindset must shift towards exploring means to foster effective collaboration.

8. Managing team performance
You have got to get good at identifying the highs and lows of team performance through developing useful key performance indicators (KPIs), uncover performance gaps and plan interventions to bridge performance gaps.

This transition of moving from an individual contributor to a people manager is a tricky one. While a lot is written and spoken about it, not all companies put in pre-emptive training programmes to equip the new managers. More power to those that do so.

Bhavna Dalal is the Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a Leadership Development company based in Bengaluru, India.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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