Becoming a manager is certainly something to be proud of — you have risen through the ranks of employees to an important position. However, with achievement comes challenge, and managing a team certainly has many challenges.
The key to excelling in this role is a firm understanding of your purpose within the company. First and foremost, being a manager is about aligning the efforts of employees with the goals of the business. Managers act in service to their team, their customers and business owners.
The thing that makes excellent managers stand out is their ability to keep a positive perspective about serving the best interests of others. The best way to do that is to understand your unique strengths and consider how you can use them to help pthers. Strong communicators may be able to help coach, inform, or give feedback. Strategic managers may be better at forming a plan of action. Others may be better at wooing irritated clients or offering flexible problem solving. Approaching your work from a place of strength will feel much more rewarding because it fulfills your purpose — to lift others up — while allowing you to do things in a way that feels natural to you.
If you don’t know what your strengths are, there are many assessments designed to provide clarity. Try the Myers-Briggs assessment or “StrengthsFinder 2.0,” a book by Tom Rath.
Once you understand your natural strengths and how they can better your team and company, this becomes the filter through which you can approach your day-to-day tasks. If the goal is to sell more retail products, the manager assumes the key role of ensuring that salespeople are allocating their efforts appropriately towards that goal. If you are a strong communicator, you may facilitate this by creating a sales workshop. Strategic managers may break down the larger goal into individual goals and benchmarks. Naturally authoritative managers may consider some scheduling changes to make sure that top salespeople get the best opportunities to move product. Each approach is equally valid, so give yourself the space to find your own style.
When things aren’t going right, don’t resign yourself with statements like “that’s just the way they are,” or “that’s just how it is.” Those are the times to come back to your purpose, your strengths, and your employer’s goals.
Accept and own the fact that you make a difference. If you just assume things are going to get worse, they probably will. Instead of approaching a situation full of toxic assumptions, focus on how you intend to make the situation better. A simple change in attitude can go a long way with employees, who feed off of the tone you set — subconsciously and otherwise. Managers have a very direct effect on the culture of a workplace, positive or negative. When you let things slide and set an example where doing the minimum is enough, it creates a whole culture over time. On the other hand, managers have a unique opportunity to make people feel appreciated, supported, heard, and challenged to be better.
Even if you’ve been a manager for a while, it’s not too late to change your management legacy! The challenge to serve is great, but the rewards are priceless.