Learn to listen, build trust, and communicate to become a great leader.
Being an employee is so comfortable, but what if you are the boss now? What to do? The right way to start is by focusing on these few essential skills. Master them and become an awesome manager.
Specifically: Listening, trust, transparent communication, social sensitivity, assertiveness, and learning.
Be patient as it takes time to discover the wide variety of skills you need in management. Being happy. Management is a fascinating journey that allows you to learn a new thing every single day.
Remember the words of Henry Mintzberg:
Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.
Listening is so critical. Being a new manager, you may tend to speak a lot. You want to prove that you deserve the position. In your eyes, talking equals performance.
The opposite is true. Listening makes you a manager.
Stop. Be silent. Listen to what people tell you. Even if they are your friends as you worked on one team, you want to get to know them. Listen to their problems, suggestions, aspirations, or complaints.
Management roles give you a completely fresh perspective. So, don’t take your relationships for granted. You need to strengthen them and build new ones.
The most detrimental thing you can do is that you talk more than listen. Do you think you know everything the best? Hahaha! Being a manager does not give you that privilege. It makes you humble and silent. So, learning to listen is the first and major effort you need to make.
Have you heard about psychological safety? No? Let me help you with that.
“Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes .”— Amy Edmondson
Do you believe that everyone on your team feels safe? Make sure they do and build a high level of trust with them. This is especially difficult for management transitions.
When you are an employee, you can discuss with your fellow mates pretty much everything. What commonly happens when you are promoted is that people don’t know if they can trust you.
You are not one of them anymore.
That is a mental shift you need to have in mind. So, it is extra important to establish an open ground for speaking up.
Standing by your word helps your team understand your style. You can’t work successfully with your team if they don’t trust you. Likewise, learn to trust them.
3. Transparent communication
One of the trickiest skills to get is to learn to be honest and transparent. As a manager, you don’t have the luxury of talking about everything. Many things are confidential. Yet, transparency helps you to create trust.
Finding a balance is an atrial-and-fail experiment. Keep one general rule in mind: if you were an employee, would you appreciate knowing that piece of information? If your answer is yes, then it’s fair to share it with your team. If not, you may decide to skip it.
Managers are like coffee filters. Make sure all necessary information is TRANSMITTED, UNDERSTOOD, and TASTES good.
I had many cases when I cascaded some news and people did not get it. Language is your barrier. Make sure you use simple and general words. No acronyms, jargon, Latin, etc.
…and check with them, they got the right. The worst is misunderstanding and confusion. Avoid it as much as you can.
Lastly, no need to put sugar on top. Some news tastes better when they are presented as they are.
Example: We are disbanding and firing this team. Some would say: We are looking into a more efficient structure of the department to seek new opportunities. Nahhh, please. Be honest about what is going on.
4. Social sensitivity
If you think you are sitting at the top of the throne and don’t touch people’s lives, you are wrong. Leaders need to develop a good level of social sensitivity.
What I mean by that is that through listening, you find out about a lot of things. People share even private stuff with you. You can’t and shouldn’t help with everything your teammates may ask you for. However, you can show compassion.
Let them take a day off when they need to deal with a family emergency. Cut them some slack if they can’t work every day over time as they need to pick up their kids from school. It is fine.
Just be human.
Research proves that social sensitivity helps with team management. That’s something aspirating managers should not neglect. Especially in their professional beginnings.
Mindtools considers assertive people great managers. Do you want to be one of them?
I found many assertive people to be aggressive. That’s not the case. Assertiveness is about your confidence, authenticity, fair and reasonable interactions, and ability to troubleshoot.
I am quite an introverted person. You could say that introverted people are weak managers. It’s completely false. Introverted does not mean not being assertive, confident, or trustworthy. Don’t judge people too fast.
Yet, assertiveness takes time to understand. Many overdo it. Many are pushing too much. Nahhh. In management, it helps you to make decisions effectively and can even help control stress.
I like a quote from Warren Buffett. It says we need to learn to say no. Think about that. You can’t please everyone. Treat them fairly, though.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” ― Warren Buffett
To successfully transition to a management role, be ready to learn… a lot. You may never be a fully accomplished manager as there is so much to learn.
Every day is a special day.
Management is not just another step on the corporate ladder. It is a responsibility and a great chance for you to develop some real soft skills. Embrace it. Appreciate working with your team.
Have fun with it. Management is the best job in the world.
You can do it. It takes time. But as long as you know you are on the journey, you will be getting better and better.
Start by listening and analyzing how you can use these pieces of information. Be relaxed in your interactions. Admit you don’t know or you made a mistake.
Management does not make you better than others. No, it makes you more equal to them as you are there for them. Help them when you can and always mean it well.
That way you transition well from an employee to a leadership role. Good luck!
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