Asking colleagues about your strengths and weaknesses will help you succeed as a manager
When your first management position comes along, it’s tempting to say yes without thinking. But “accept and figure it out later” isn’t usually the best policy. Most employees who move into a management role experience a rude surprise. In fact, 65 per cent say they regret taking management positions.
The good news is that there are simple things you can do to prepare yourself.
The first thing to do is ask yourself a few key questions about things you’ve already done. In a group, do you prefer being the person who decides what needs to be done and allocates responsibilities? Do you like training people and explaining things? Are you comfortable delivering criticism? If your answer to all of the above is a confident yes, a management path could be a good route.
But don’t wait until you’re in the position to find out whether you’re up to it. Try your hand at people management in your current role. All it takes is being a little more intentional about how you approach your current responsibilities. Work with your manager to create a simple action plan for the next few weeks. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do this:
1. Follow the 70-20-10 Principle. The best way to learn to manage others is by doing it. Make sure that 70 per cent of the steps in your plan occur on the job, and 20 per cent involve feedback from others you already work with. Only 10 per cent, if any, should come from training material.
2. Focus your plan. Select (at most) two areas that you need to improve. You are more likely to succeed by focusing on one or two key areas.
3. Don’t overlook your existing strengths. While there are many skills and behaviours good managers need, don’t ignore what has contributed to your success so far. Skills like project management will always be relevant.
4. Assess your progress: keep notes on how well you do. This allows you to track the rate of your development. And share these notes with others – which will enable them to keep you on track as well and offer healthy external pressure.
POWER OF NETWORKS
If it’s not already obvious, a great manager works with and through others. The best way to get off to a fast start in a management role is to achieve a “collective quick win”. This means quickly succeeding at something you accomplish with others, not on your own.
To prepare for this, start learning how to improve and/or learn from a few relationships already within reach. For example, take note of what your manager does well (or doesn’t). And talk with them about how they work with their manager and peers.
With co-workers, seek input from people you deal with every day on how well you work with them. If they are open about your strengths and weaknesses now, they’ll be more willing to help you when you become a manager.
When it comes to your extended network, speak to several key individuals you respect in your organisation for advice on what you can do to prepare for a managerial role. Make these connections now, and you’ll be able to turn to them for advice, and even advocacy, later.
GET STARTED TODAY
Hoping that you’ll be a good manager isn’t a substitute for planning to be a good manager. New managers often drift and under-perform as a result of their failure to prepare prior to day one. The steps above might seem straightforward, but the pace
of day-to-day work means they’re often neglected as an afterthought. If you begin them now, everything else will follow.