From foot soldier to manager

One day you're just one of the foot soldiers. Then without any warning or shadowing, you are appointed a manager. You are no longer just one of the troops, but a commander. What do you do?

First let us agree that things should not happen like that. Companies should strive to adopt a succession planning programme, allow potential managers to job shadow fellow managers and gradually increase responsibilities before plunging them into the deep end.

Indeed, managers should be identified and offered the chance to take part in management development programmes before any appointment is offered. They should be allowed to shadow and observe an experienced manager and gradually encouraged to undertake basic management functions, so that when a management position becomes open, they are ready and capable of filling the role.

But what about those times that there is no preparation and one is thrust into a management role. There are a few steps one can take to quickly grow into the role. If you approach your role as new manager with the expectation that you are going to have problems, you are actually increasing the likelihood of such difficulties.

A better approach is to expect to have a positive and productive working relationship with your colleagues.

One critical trait of a new manager is to treat fellow employees with respect and with trust.

While there are no hard fast rules for first-time managers, there is no doubt that the first thing to do is to change your mindset and learn to adapt to the new position of authority. You have to accept new challenges.

The first six challenges every new manager faces are the ability to communicate, listen, plan, organize, motivate and manage.

A manager must show appreciation for a job well done by his colleagues and then throw up new challenges to motivate the staff memberto develop new skills. A manager must resist delegating something just because he or she does not enjoy doing it. Delegation means entrusting a direct report to work on a project or a specific task so that the individual will have better knowledge about the job and the company has better efficiencies.

A good leader must possess intelligence, supervisory ability, initiative, responsibility, dependability, self-assurance, and be a team-worker.
To be a role model, a manager must be able to do what he or she expects others to accomplish through excellent communication and clear instructions, articulating company policies while listening to suggestions for improvement.

A new manager should support the career development of subordinates and send them for training courses that will help to further improve their skills while at the same time benefiting the business.

So as a new manager, you have a lot of learning to do. The road to successful management can be harsh and only the rugged and determined succeed.

By Liza van Wyk, CEO of AstroTech Training who offer leadership development training.

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