Throughout my career in Learning and Development and Talent Management, I have interacted with hundreds of employees demanding to be promoted to supervisors, team leaders or managers. Some apply for vacancies, while others demand a title and pay rise. The common observation amongst the majority was the lack of understanding about what it means to be a manager!
There are many high performing employees and superstars at doing their jobs, so organizations offer them the manager role based on their current performance, but, when they assume the new role and are faced with the reality of the new expectations, they suffer as they aren’t really ready to become managers. Without the proper development and preparation to their next level, high performing and high potential employees are being set for failure. Here are few things to keep in mind when considering a managerial role. Even if you are currently in a managerial role, it is good to visualize these attributes:
1. Being a manager means you are accountable for team performance. If you manage others, you are accountable to manage employee performance even if that means having “tough conversations”. Employees need to understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and be coached on how they do it. Managing employees is the most important aspect of the package that you take if you accept to be a manager, and it is non-negotiable.
2. Being a manager means that you can’t sit there waiting to be told what to do. You have to drive things forward within your level of authority, and if your manager isn’t doing point 1 above, then you take the conversation to their desk and ensure you embrace your right as an employee to get those things. Keep in mind your organizational authority matrix and don’t step on someone’s toes.
3. It is never about a chance! When I was heading a recruitment function, employees used to approach me asking for a chance to “try them” in the manager role. Well, it doesn’t work like that, because if you got that chance, your company will have to replace you in the position you vacate, so there is no turning back if things go badly. Organizations do what’s best for them, so you could be offered temporary assignments and such, to demonstrate your managerial capabilities. Embrace these opportunities.
4. Being a manager means that you are no longer your employees’ friend. You don’t have to be the loved one. Actually, if everyone loves you, maybe you are not doing your managerial job; note that I say “maybe.” You have to make decisions that involve your team, and sometimes these are tough, being their friend impact your decisions. Keep in mind, the tough decisions and the right ones are the same.
Are you wondering if I have forgotten to say that the manager package includes growing your employees’ career? Well, the manager is accountable to develop their employees and support them, not to manage their careers. This is all about “YOU”. If you aspire to become a manager, and grow your career thereafter, it is important to keep in mind that only you own your career progression and your career development. So seek support, ask for feedback, be open to criticism, become more self-aware and be resilient to change. Maybe you can think of investing in coaching, ask to be involved in tasks and projects beyond your job description, show your talent and prove you can do the job BEFORE you ask for it.
Becoming a manager is a package that you have to accept as is. You won’t be able to pick and choose what to do and what not to. If you demand the title and the pay, keep in mind, that comes along with important accountabilities.