Congratulations! You've just been promoted to the role of manager. Your promotion is probably due to the fact that you excelled in your previous role. But the professional and/or technical skills that have fuelled your success to date are likely not enough to ensure your success as a manager. To be a good or even great manager, you'll need to shift your focus and acquire a whole new set of skills. It's a bit like trying to becoming a golf pro, after being a great football player for years. Your strong athleticism will help, but you need new equipment, skills and strategies. Here are some tips to help you become a great talent manager.
Learn to work through others
Your job now is to work through others, not simply to do the work yourself. Your primary focus should therefore be to manage the work of your employees and support their high performance. That requires a fundamental shift in perception and action. This does not ignore the fact that many first level managers remain “working managers” who are expected to fulfil a functional role beyond leading their team. However, to truly become a great manager, you need to focus your energies on mentoring your employees and getting work done "through them".
It's easy for new managers to fall back into the role they were most comfortable with and usually excelled at. But resist the temptation. Share your knowledge, skills and experience with your employees, guide their work, give them feedback on their performance and coach them. Make sure they have the tools, resources, information, guidance and skills they need to do their work effectively and successfully.
Be prepared to accept that your employees will approach things differently than you would. You need to learn to value each of your employees for their unique strengths and abilities, and learn to help them be the best they can be; you're not trying to create clones of yourself.
Get some training on management basics
Learning to be a good manager is not easy; good talent management skills are not intuitive to most. Make sure you spend time learning to:
- give effective feedback
- coach your employees
- track employee performance
- set goals
- develop your employees
- recognize and reward performance
- deal with performance issues
- support career progression
- hire the right people
There are lots of great books, podcasts, blogs, training courses, articles, etc. to help you develop these basic talent management skills. Your organization may also have processes and tools in place to support talent management best-practices. Learn what's available to you, and take advantage of it.
Learning to do all these things well is a lifelong process. But your investment in developing strong employee performance and talent management skills will pay off in terms of employee high performance, as well as employee engagement, satisfaction and retention, and ultimately improved organizational results.
Take advantage of your organization's talent management programs
Now that you better understand the importance and value of effectively using talent management basics to manage your employees' performance don't forget to make use of your organization's programs for yourself. Often managers feel exempt from the need for performance appraisals, development activities and career planning sessions, etc. Yet these tools are as valuable for managers as they are for employees. Learn more about what programs and processes your organization has in place to support your performance and career progression. How do they support employee development? Do they have a succession management program in place? Do they support mentoring relationships? Then take full advantage of the talent management tools and resource available to support your own performance, development and success.
Solicit feedback from others
Getting feedback from others on your performance is one of the best ways to learn. Find people who can serve as "mirrors" for you and help you identify your strengths and areas that need development, without judgment or condemnation. Your manager should be able to help in this regard, but you might also want to seek out peers, or a mentor to guide and help you. Or do all three. You can also get invaluable feedback from your employees. If your organization has a process in place for gathering 360 degree feedback, make sure you take advantage of it. But even if a formal 360 degree feedback process isn't available, you can still ask employees, peers, co-workers, customers, managers, etc. for feedback in a less formal way. Then use the information you gather to grow and develop.
Learn more about the business or industry you're in
As you move up the management ranks, it becomes increasingly important to understand the drivers, challenges and opportunities of the "business" your organization is in. You need this deeper understanding to drive better decision-making, and to allow you to make a broader, richer contribution to your organization's success. Start by looking at your organization's high-level goals, and ensure your goals and those of your employees align with and contribute to those organizational goals. Read industry or trade publications. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Follow industry leaders and analysts on Twitter. There are myriad ways you can broaden your horizons and learn about industry trends. And don't forget to share some of this newfound knowledge with your employees — it can help them advance their careers and performance too.
To successfully transition to a management role, you need to shift your focus and acquire new skills and expertise, so you can effectively manage your employees' performance. Effective talent management skills and broader "business" acumen are a must. By leveraging talent management best-practices, both for yourself and your employees, you can become a great manager who leads a world-class workforce.