Most people are promoted to a management role based on their performance in either a technical or frontline position. And while performance in the first role can obviously be an indicator of success, the transition is not always a smooth one.
What many people fail to grasp is that, although they may be in the same department or even on the same team, the new manger is assuming an entirely different role. There is nothing better than managing human beings to test your limits and find out about who you are.
If you are promoted within a team, the dynamics of your relationships with other members will change. Often, the push back comes from the team's side. When you go from joking in the canteen with someone, to having them direct you or make suggestions about your performance, it can easily upset the apple cart. Team members can find this irks them, sometimes unexpectedly and it can even develop into resentment, if unchecked.
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H-Training have worked with thousands of first-line managers over the years, and we have a number of options to deal with this. First of all, knowing the profile of your managers can really help here. If you are dealing with someone who is a strong character, the approach will be much different than someone who is high in compliance. Furthermore, understanding your own preference can also help. If you are high in dominance yourself, then you may be prone to more of a controlling response to someone resisting your intentions. This in itself can greatly aggravate the problem.
But there is nothing like a good start to help here. We have trained and coached a long list of supervisors and first-line managers, and the best approach we have often found is to prevent situations like this emerging in the first place. If you set out your stall, and communicate clearly with people about how you intend to conduct yourself in your new role and what is expected of them, it can really help to alleviate any animosity long-term.
Furthermore, there can sometimes be a reluctance and hesitancy among the team about your management approach and what to expect from it. By being transparent and even directly addressing the shift from team member to manager, you can circumvent a lot of potential problems that may arise.
A good way to gesture towards the elephant in the room is to say something like:
‘I understand that my being in this role might take some getting used to, but I want to support you with that as best I can.’
Or something like:
‘My role is to support you as much as I can. I am not trying to catch anyone out now that I am a manager, but I want to work as hard as I can for you, so as we can work together and continue to progress as a team.’
By shining a light on this you are clearly signalling your intention to be open and transparent. And furthermore, you are also highlighting your capacity to reflect and see situations clearly. This approach builds integrity and is a great first-step in encouraging others to follow suit.
As a professional coach, mentor and facilitator Ciaran has a passionate interest in developing competencies at all workplace levels but particularly in first-line and mid-level managers. His well-developed skills in coaching and his unique approach gains the confidence of clients and supports them towards significant development.