Have you always wanted to see the word “manager”
appear somewhere in your job title?
That’s a great ambition — and an achievable goal —
if you have the focus, work ethic and right attitude.
According to former Harvard Business School
professor Michael Watkins, “If you take a typical group of mid-level executives
and ask if they’ve ever been promoted to lead their peers, 90% of them will say
Consider the dynamics of transitioning from a team
member to a team leader.
Here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind
now, before that happens:
Work backwards from your goal
If your ideal career track involves becoming a
manager, set yourself up for success early. Those who excel at negotiating the
transition from peer to manager tend to do a few things well from the
beginning. Start with the following:
professionalism seriously. Commit to proper attire, appropriate
language and perfect attendance. Know and understand human resources
procedures — treat all colleagues fairly, set firm boundaries between the
professional and personal aspects of co-worker relationships and avoid
gossip and cliques.
While no workplace is perfect, managers can’t afford to undermine
themselves or reduce team morale by feeding a culture of negativity. If
you find yourself wanting to vent negative thoughts about a person or
system, rely on support available to you outside of the workplace.
While finding the source of an issue can help your team avoid repeating an
error, good managers focus more on solving problems than escaping blame
for them. Take accountability when you’ve made a mistake, and don’t be
afraid to work with others to tackle complex problems.
- Communicate. Successful managers know
that good communication involves talking and listening.
Ask questions that help you understand other team members’ points of view
and summarise their thoughts in your own words to make sure you’ve got it
honest and forthright. If you have management aspirations, tell
your supervisor. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re disappointed in
another team member’s contributions, address the issue face to face,
privately, without being accusatory. Honesty and directness are core
characteristics of good leaders.
- Be a
leader, not just a manger. Acting like a manager means displaying
leadership qualities that help make everybody better. That’s not the same
thing as steamrolling your colleagues or bossing your peers around.
Visualise the transition
It can be awkward when a peer gets promoted to a
management position. Some team members may feel they’ve been passed over for
the promotion. Others may have difficulty adjusting to new roles and new
However, these tensions are reduced when team
members agree their new manager is the right person for the job. By exhibiting
the leadership skills employers and team members prize in managers, you’ll pave
the way for a successful transition. Consider how you’d approach that
transition with your team:
one-on-one meetings. A good manager will encourage honest feedback
from each team member, show support for individual goals, clarify roles
and expectations, and discuss how to leverage every individual’s
strengths. This is also a good time to have a conversation about how the
dynamics of your professional relationship will change.
After individual meetings, get the whole team together. Set team goals and
clarify expectations about how you want the group to work together. And
reiterate your commitment to honest feedback.
get too far ahead. You won’t need to come up with specific action
items or outline your vision for the team until you actually get the
opportunity to manage. Know the difference between visualising a
transition and undermining the leadership of your current manager. By
putting yourself in a management mindset, you might find yourself empathising
more with the pressures managers find themselves under.
Want to know more about how to grow your career?
Browse some past articles on the subject: How Do I Boost My
Productivity—Without Overdoing It?
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