Be A Team Lead That Can Lead A Team
Getting a promotion at work is a great accomplishment, anyone who has been entrusted with more responsibility and pushed further up the ranks of a company where they can truly make a difference to the organization, should be very proud. However, it’s important to know the immediate side effects of your new role. It’s not always easy to celebrate a promotion when maybe you weren’t the only one in the running for it. Below are a few scenarios that many new managers encounter, as well as some insight that will help you always put your best foot forward. Succeeding in your new role can be the difference between building a long career and being let go by your company. Those first few months of being a supervisor or Team Lead can make all the difference, stay on course and stay true to what got you there.
Peer Review. Ok, so you just got a big promotion; Congrats! Well, all those people you’ve been working with for the last few years are going to be happy for you, but they’re also going to wonder why your boss thinks you’re better for the job than they are. DO NOT LET THIS EAT YOU UP. Your boss made the right decision, be confident in that, and don’t make him/her regret it. Any negative attitudes or comments that you hear from your peers (through the grapevine) are all based on emotion. Those emotions are usually directed at your boss (“I’m so mad at them for not picking me.”), or back at the person who feels inadequate and decided to use you as the scapegoat (“Am I not good enough for the position, why is he?”). In the collections industry, we become friends with our colleagues because it’s a tough job and we want to enjoy the people we’re with all day long. But it’s also competitive. You may feel worried about what your “friends” at work will say about you now. You can’t let other peoples’ negative opinions of your abilities become the reality. Don’t become consumed with whether other people think you can do the job, DON’T FORGET that the only person whose opinion matters is your boss’s, and guess what, they just gave you the job! If you work hard for something you got, well then, you earned it. Don’t feel bad if you’re proud of yourself, you should be! Now use this newfound sense of confidence and do something great with it, don’t waste your time worrying about the haters, that’s all they are anyways.
Friend or Foe. If you thought agreeing with management on the new strict attendance policy at work was going to show you who your friends in the office are, try getting a promotion. There are three kinds of office “friends” for new managers; (1) the people who are you professional “friends”, or a preferred term “work allies”, these are people who you know because of work, who care about you in a professional capacity. They will be happy for you, will support you in your new role, and will see you as a go getter, and make efforts to further your professional bond. They’re also the people who will recommend you as a new manager or even refer you to a new job, and not because you owe them money, but because they think you’re a value adding asset to any organization. (2) the people who you made friends with at work, who don’t realize that you’re only friends because of work. Maybe you went out with them a few times and now they want to be a part of everything you do and expect a call every Friday night. These people don’t respect you as a professional, and some of them may think your new promotion means that you’re going to cut them some slack. They think they now have a buddy in management, and you have their back more than the company’s. (3) the people who we can call the “opportunists”. These people make friends with individuals they think they can use as leverage within the company. They get close to the people who they can use to advance their own careers, but they have no intention of helping you in any way. These people will either want to be your friend now that you’re a new manager, or when they disagree with another manager, they’ll lean on you to stir the pot. These people will become a wedge between you and furthering you growth in the company.
Remember, you are the company you keep. Focus on the number one (1) type of office “friends”. Try to stay away from calling colleagues friends in relation to your work, they’re just colleagues. You can like them, enjoy their company at work, and even occasionally on the golf course, but don’t call them on the weekends when you get in a fight with your wife/hubby, because at the end of the day, you’re not friends, you’re co-workers. The #1 problem that can be seen with new managers in the collections industry is that they rely on their office relationships for their happiness. They either don’t have friends out of the office who they can rely on for work advice, or they put too much weight on the friendships they’ve made in the office. Remember that you have a job for one reason, to further yourself as a professional and make money for your family, not to make friends. The more you distance yourself personally from your co-workers, the more effective you will be as a manager. Come on! We have work to do, you can’t spend all day gossiping with people about the latest episode of Desperate Housewives!
Take Initiative and Be Accountable. One of the best things about NOT being a manager or supervisor is that all you have to do is show up and follow the rules. In this industry, the hardest job for a non manager is showing up on time. No one expects you to think outside of the box on a regular basis. When you get promoted, it’s because someone thinks you are more than a task-er, you are a thinker and a do-er. Your ability to think outside the box and bring new ideas to the table is what made you a worthy candidate. The test is; can you make something happen with that new idea? When you get promoted, DO!!! Don’t just sit around and think someone will take it off your hands. You need to take initiative, and hold yourself accountable for the work that needs to get the project off the ground. Coming up with new ideas is easy, making them happen is what makes the difference between a good manager and one who is letting their bosses down. This is a PERFECT opportunity for you to get one of your ideas you always told your boss about implemented. Get it done! It’s a mistake as a new manager to wait around for a new assignment. Just because you were promoted doesn’t mean that the work is done, and don’t think someone is about to assign you a list of tasks. You’ve only just begun, get out there, come up with some new ideas, and get them started. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t work, the best part of being a manager is that you get to try new things to make the company and its staff better. It won’t always work, but you and your team will grow together from building ideas and getting them off the ground. There’s nothing better than learning with your staff while working to get better.
Ask Questions. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t know what to do next or where to take a new project. As a manager, you have one job, make; [your department/your staff/your employees/the company] better! Do whatever it takes, within the power you have, to make things better. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss and ask for insight or ideas. Your boss has a lot on their plate, but they love to brainstorm and see the company grow. Don’t think that you’re on your own. Talk to people, talk to other managers or other supervisors and ask them what they are working on. Get inspired, and ask questions. The more you know about the direction of the company, and how you can make your staff and your department better, the sooner you’ll be so busy with new ideas that you won’t even remember that at one point, you were struggling to get started. There is one exception to this piece of advice. There is a saying we all learn in middle school that goes; “there is no such thing as a stupid question”. That may be true, but… Look at it this way, there is no such thing as a stupid question, just a stupid person who asks too many. As important as it is to ask questions, there is nothing more annoying than being asked a question that could have been answered with a 20 second Google search. Don’t ask questions that make you look stupid. Always try to find the answer yourself with research, or ask one of those (1) type office “friends” or even another manager. Try to go to your boss’s office with answers and solutions, and if you can’t find the solution, always come with potential options and something that you can show them that you’ve made an effort to try to solve it before you went to them.
Don’t Be A Baby. Playtime is over, you’re a new manager and you have to show your strengths. We all have bad days, we all have our weaknesses, but our ability to persevere is what got us to where we are today. As a manager, you’re only as valuable as you are on your worst day. When things are good, all you have to do is smile and wave. When things are bad, the good managers will be the ones who are first in and last out, they don’t freak out on everyone, they buckle down and get to work. Take the blame for errors, protect your staff from unnecessary ridicule that will set you back, and help them get better. If you turn around and complain about every bad employee you have, every error your department makes, or how other departments are the reason you can’t succeed, you have just become a whining pain in the you know what. You know what babies and managers should have in common… NOTHING! Don’t bring problems, bring solutions. A manager that always complains about others becomes a weak manager and an unfit leader. Problem solvers are the ones making it to the top, not people who only agitate the situation.
Be Humble. Look, you got promoted. You should be pumped! But no one made you King Tut. Don’t go around the office acting like you are the CEO, unless you just got promoted to CEO, then do yo’ thang. It is so common for new managers to get power trips. Respect from you subordinates will get you commitment and dedication to your plan, ruling by fear will only get you resentment and a group of people who will take the first out they can get. Management by fear is effective in the short term, and at times is necessary, but in the long term it’s a failing principle. Earn your respect by showing respect. You’re not better than anyone, and you still have to prove your worth. Not just to your boss, but to your team. As a new manager, people want to see how you will handle the power, no matter how small it is. People can seriously lose their cool just because they held the key to the supply closet. Sorry, you’re not that cool dude, there’s only pens and paper back there, not gold bricks.
Never Stop Climbing. The best time to show your intent to climb the ladder is right after a promotion. Don’t think that because you got a promotion that you should give up trying to grow with the company or that people don’t want to see you reaching for the top. Don’t take that the wrong way though; you still have to do this within the scope of your new role. Just because you went from Assistant Receptionist to Lead Receptionist doesn’t mean you should tell the boss that the Quarterly Projections Report needs a makeover. Know your role, but don’t forget there is no ceiling. Find ways to do more, be helpful to other managers, take on projects that need a lead. Be the person in the office that people rely on and who isn’t afraid to get the job done. Stay longer hours to get the projects done and lead your team by example. Motivation is what gets us started, dedication is what gets the job done. The 5:01 train isn’t for new managers, it shouldn’t be for any managers. Stay later, managers have more fun at work anyways, and the amount of work you can get done in an office after 5:01pm is unbelievable.
Be An Employer, Not an Employee. The word Employee could just be changed to Me-Me-Me. A majority of employees only care about a few things; (1) Is it 5:00pm yet? (2) When do we get paid? (3) I need a vacation. (4) Did you hear about what Susie did?… New managers will make a big impression if they start to think like an employer. Put the company first, and the company will think of you when it’s time to pay dividends. Inspire your team to put the company first, get them to buy into the plan. Some things won’t always be the easiest or best things up front for the staff, but the big picture benefits everyone. A company is only as good as its people, but if everyone in the company only cares about themselves, you don’t have a company, you have an office with a bunch of lazy, entitled, and unappreciative hands reached out for any free gift. If no one cares about the company, it won’t exist, and without the company, there are no jobs. You need to ask yourself if what you’re doing is right for the company and it’s people, not just for you. Show leadership by putting what matters first, be there for your team members, for your managers, for your colleagues. Don’t just be there for you.
When you applied for this job, you wanted to be a part of a growing business. You had dreams of this new job being full of opportunity and promise for a better future. You did it for you, and for your family. Well hey, here’s your chance, if you take care of the company, the company will take care of you. You would be surprised to learn how much of a positive influence a new manager can have on a company, but they need to remember that the company is number one, not them.
Being a new manager is a great time for any professional. Be proud of your accomplishment, but know that this is just the beginning. You have to earn your team’s respect, and once you do, they will follow you into battle every time. Respect your subordinates, accommodate your peers, and inspire your superiors. Don’t be afraid to take on more, but hold yourself accountable to get the job done. And please as a new manager, if you don’t remember anything else from this post please remember this; just because you’re a new manager, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the office just became your personal assistant.