You have an enthusiastic employee who is a consistent performer, a reliable team member and great role model for other staff and you’ve decided it’s time to promote them to a management role.
So, what do you need to do to prepare them for this role?
“Well…. nothing. They’ve been working for me for years. They know the routines and tasks. Shouldn’t they know what to do?” I hear you say?
Sadly, this is the case for many of our new leaders and without realizing, we can be signing them up for significant frustration and stress, but how so?
Whilst these new/emerging/potential leaders might know the ins and outs of the various tasks and processes of the business, what they need now is a whole new set of skills.
Because what got them here, won’t get them there.
You see, when they made the leap from employee to leader, the game they were so good at playing changed completely. Previously, as an individual or team member, they were evaluated purely on the quality of their own efforts and results. They did the work, hit the target and received the accolade or reward.
However, as a leader, they must now get their results through other people. Their success is dependent on being able to get their staff to do what they need them to do, to the right standard, consistently….. and that’s rarely easy to do!
So, it’s no longer about what they can personally do, it’s about what they can coach, lead, inspire and manage others to do.
This is where things can get stressful. You see, we usually promote our best performing employees. They were quite likely the model employee, the person who completed their tasks on time, wowed your customers and went far beyond the call of duty. They were exceptional.
However, now, they’ll be responsible for managing staff who are less than enthusiastic about the business’ mission. Who are more inclined to just show up, do what they have to do, then go home and accept their pay cheque. They’ll be managing people who are less concerned with outstanding results. Good people, maybe, but also average performers. Steady Eddies at best, lazy Louises at worst.
For the first time, they’ll now need to manage unacceptable behaviour as well as under-performance. Being a high achiever, they’ll want to continue their stellar track record of success, but because they can’t rely on staff who perform like them, they’ll likely try to keep all the balls in the air with their own hands and end up doing far too much themselves. Pressure is mounting, outcomes are being measured and for the first time, they feel powerless to impact their results.
This is the danger zone for our young leaders.
“Why won’t they just do it?” is often the cry. Their mental picture of management was going to be so exciting. They were going to achieve so much leading a team of equally committed high achievers to inevitable success. And then, they start to realise that it’s not happening. They feel that they’re failing- and they’re not used to failing at anything!
Don’t get me wrong, leadership can be the most rewarding role in the world but without the vital knowledge and skills needed to engage and lead other people effectively, particularly those very different to themselves, they find themselves completely unprepared, out of their depth… and exhausted!
So much of really effective leadership is about mindset and understanding. It’s about who you are being more so than just what you are doing. Armed with real clarity around who you want to be as a leader, what you will expect and what you want to achieve, plus some handy skills in creating shared values, managing behaviour and maximizing team engagement, the experience of leadership can be very, very different.
In todays’ competitive business landscape, the frontline (or first-level/store) manager is the key to the retention of great staff and they’re the face and voice of your brand. ‘Throwing them in the deep end’ without ensuring that they have the right skills to perform their role well is setting them up for unnecessary stress and taking a real risk with the future of your brand.
Kym Krey is a specialist Leadership Mentor working with business owners and managers to become inspiring leaders and get real results through their teams. Contact her at www.kymkrey.com.au