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From Employee to Manager: Three Key Moves for a Successful Transition

The best employees don’t always make the best managers—and, yet, often organizations promote strong employees to management positions in reward for their service and without regard to their leadership skills. Management requires a separate set of skills that many employees have not had an opportunity to develop before accepting their new role. If left untrained, new managers can often alienate employees and disrupt workflow. Consider these three key moves for a successful transition from employee to manager.

Tailor Your Management Style

Some of the happiest employees are those with managers who take an interest in them as an individual. Invest some time talking with each employee about how they like to work. How often do they want to interact with you? Do they work better on their own or when you provide everyday guidance? Would they rather seek you out when they have questions or prefer you touch base with them on projects? How would they describe their best manager? Their worst? Find out the answers to these questions and then use those answers to tailor your management style to their needs. Build time for communication with individual employees into your annual planning and seek feedback on a regular basis regarding how your management style fits with their preferred work style.

Encourage Strong Employees

Before becoming a manager, many employees are the go-to person for their work area, performing the job tasks at a high level. The role of being the strong employee will now need to be filled by someone new. Talk to employees one at a time and ask them about their strengths and weaknesses. What do they know? What do they need or want to know? How do they feel they can best grow into a new role in the work area? Create a development plan with each employee—a list of the things they can learn and specific ways you will work together to ensure they learn these new skills.

Develop a Peer Network

No manager is an island. We all need someone to listen to our ideas, to discuss frustrations with in a safe, confidential environment, and to provide sound advice and guidance. Seek out other managers and find one or two who deal with similar issues and offer sound advice. Try and find peers who have different historical, career or management perspectives to broaden your range of peer feedback. Then, commit time on a regular basis to developing these relationships.

Try these three moves and, then, give yourself time to adjust and even make mistakes. Becoming a strong manager takes time and a commitment to invest in your own development as well as the development of your employees. But, it’s worth the effort.