You have finally gotten the promotion you have long sought. You are excited about the opportunity to raise your profile and make greater impact in your company. However, the initial elation of this promotion quickly gives way to the reality of leading a team for the first time. While your technical skill enabled you to advance, you recognize that leading a team may require a new skill set. Unfortunately, your company may not formally assist you in developing leadership skills. As you transition into this new role, consider the following tips to ensure that you thrive in leading your team:
- Analyze the norms of the new team – if you are inheriting an intact team, you may wish to better understand the norms of the team. For instance, how often did the team meet? What are the expectations of workflow for the team? How does the team manage challenges? You can gain awareness of team norms by talking to individual team members, as well as exploring in a group format.
- Establish new norms as needed – while it is important to be mindful of current norms, as a leader you are responsible for shaping the new norms for the team, based on your expectations. Some old norms may not be as beneficial to the team, and you want to consider how to improve team functioning, while maintaining morale and establishing your voice as a leader.
- Craft a shared vision – to increase buy-in, it may be helpful for you to spend some time developing a shared vision regarding team goals and mission. Although you may feel pressured to forgo such process-oriented activities, in favor of outcomes-focused work, it will be critical to the overall cohesion and performance of the team to engage in such a discussion.
- Set clear expectations and provide periodic feedback – ultimately, you will be evaluating your team members on their performance, and therefore, you must be clear, in terms of what constitutes good performance. By setting clear expectations and providing consistent feedback on progress, you are setting a necessary framework for team members to be successful.
- Welcome a feedback loop – many leaders, especially new ones, are fearful of feedback, concerned that they will be exposed as incompetent or unlikable. However, for your own growth and development, you should be open to hearing about your own performance. You will also serve as a great model for your new team, in terms of how to integrate feedback into deliverable goals, with improvement timelines.
You should celebrate your elevation to a leadership role, while also creating a plan to successfully navigate this promotion and start moving in the direction you want to become a great manager.