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Question for people managers: making the move into management

(9 Posts)
Kernowgal Sun 25-Aug-13 18:46:34

A team leader role has come up at my place and I've been advised to apply. It's a long shot but good interview experience.

I only have a bit of brief experience of managing another person (who was a nightmare) and so I'd welcome any thoughts on what to expect when making the transition into management, as I suspect there will be questions on this in the interview. What difficulties have you had, and how have you dealt with them? From what I know there are no tricky personalities on the team and they work well together.

The role also has budgetary responsibilities as well as a whole host of other things, and I'm certainly up for the challenge!

All advice appreciated. I am not the most assertive person so that is something I will need to work on should I get the job.

Tweet2tweet Tue 27-Aug-13 20:57:37

Think about how you would:
Manage conflict
Get team to meet targets
Organise team during busy periods
Make difficult decisions or unpopular decisions
Discipline low performance/unacceptable behaviour

Bare in mind tricky personalities can suddenly happen, as the boss you will not always be liked and will be the vent for frustrations. However on a positive, you're the boss so just ignore and go for it!

Kernowgal Wed 28-Aug-13 18:52:40


On the basis of that list I think I am fundamentally unsuited to being a manager! I am crap at conflict, hate it if people are grumpy with me and will end up trying to keep everyone happy which just won't work.

I think I basically need to grow a spine if I want to be a manager.

Tweet2tweet Wed 28-Aug-13 19:58:47

I'm afraid to say that you need to develop a thick skin indeed. I too dislike conflict and like to be friendly with everyone. However I've had my fingers burnt a few times and realise that the best approach is to distance yourself a little.

I personally think it can also be quite lonely being the boss. I've been in management for over 10 years, although I started fairly young (went for a management job no one else wanted as was managing a team of 50 difficult employees).

However I really do enjoy leading a team and empowering people, for all of the difficult stuff you can do some great things like helping people thrive and enjoy their jobs. I've been able to help staff develop their confidence to get promotions, retrain and enjoy jobs they've hated for years. On the other hand I've also had to performance manage staff out of jobs, fire people and give difficult/unpopular work changes which have sometimes resulted in my being hated by team members.

My work moto is to be fair but do what is needed to get a job done. I no longer want to be everyone's friend but it helps to be respected and have as easy going as possible atmosphere in any team. Why don't you go for it and give it a try? My other advice would be, depending on the organisation you work in, why don't you approach HR for a mentor/coach. There may be someone else within the organisation with more management experience who you can get advice from in the early days.

Hope it all goes well, let me know how you get on!

Kernowgal Wed 28-Aug-13 20:21:12

Will do, thanks! It's a large organisation and there are definitely opportunities to shadow people at a higher level, which I will try to make happen.

My current boss is fairly new to her role but I have to say she fits your description of what makes a good boss, although she probably wouldn't say that of herself! We are extremely busy at work at the moment but once things quieten down next month I will ask to do some shadowing. I've also asked if I can spend occasional days in other departments to see how other areas work.

Distancing yourself is good advice - I deputised for my boss a few weeks ago, just for the day, and it was one of those days when the shit hit the fan for everything and I had to deal with petty arguments and egos clashing and it went OK. I think I need to reassure myself that trying to placate everyone doesn't work and instead I need to find a fair and workable solution for the majority, and if the minority don't like it, then tough. If I can train myself to be a bit more assertive, it will help, because I think I'm rather wishy-washy at the moment.

Thank you for your help smile

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 28-Aug-13 21:36:22

What tweet says. You can't be friends with people you line manage. You can have a friendly working relationship, but you can't be friends. You need to be seen as fair, to delegate interesting and challenging work to develop staff, but to be there to go through it with them, and always be available for them to consult/give advice to them. Don't dump and run, and be clear in your explanantions.

The main thing (and I have suggested that my organisation run a course entitled "Being a manager means you have to grow a pair") is that you do have to take difficult decisions, you do have to be tough with people and manage poor performers, all of which can be demanding, stressful and time consuming. But if you do it well, and turn around someone's performance, and remotivate them, it is also extremely rewarding!

I was given a team of 15 to manage at the age of 25, with no previous management experience and no training. It was a steep learning curve and a baptism of fire (to use managementspeak!). I spent a lot of time in the loo crying (all of the people I managed were at least 10 years older than me) initially, but did get a grip and managed to get them all to pull together and work as a team. I got huge recognition for this, and have since been sought out to turn around poor performing teams.

I think you should go for the job. You're already aware of areas where you may have potential "development needs" and self-awareness is a huge positive!

spudmasher Wed 28-Aug-13 21:41:56

Be prepared for the human element of the job.
If you are dealing with lots of people, then you are dealing with lots of people's families. You will find out about their illnesses, their parent's illnesses, their children's illnesses. People die, people are born, people will have appointments at the orthodontist....and all of this will become your business.
I think that it is so important to be sensitive to the fact that people have other roles in life, not just as a worker in your organisation.....without letting them take the piss....

tribpot Wed 28-Aug-13 21:53:37

One of the best motivations for being a manager is seeing the effects of it being done badly. I suspect that lazy/bad managers think it doesn't matter because the team basically know what they're doing, so if the manager's coasting - <pfft>, who cares. This is completely untrue. Even high performing teams need a manager who pulls his or her weight, keeps shit away from the team so they can get on with their jobs, sets challenging targets and leads from the front.

You do have to be tough but fair. There may be times when you have to discipline people you think of as friends. You may have to defend members of the team who you don't privately think are doing such a great job - part of your job is making sure the team feel you have their backs if it comes to it. You will have to deal with under performance and it will be very difficult.

Remember as well you'd be taking on that team, not just the current members of it. They may move on, or the team may grow or shrink, so current cohesiveness is a bonus.

Kernowgal Thu 29-Aug-13 18:38:56

Top tips everyone, many thanks indeed. I imagine there will be many other people going for the job, as it's one of the highly regarded teams, but I will definitely apply. The current team leader is very approachable and a lovely bloke, and I'm sure he will be happy to discuss the job with me.

Next step: do a good enough application to get an interview!

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