Lead Artfully

Tips for managing a team you were just a member of

October 7, 2021
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Tips for managing a team you we just a member of

Have you recently been promoted to lead the team you were just a member of?  Congratulations!  It is an exciting and sometimes daunting time.  Your paycheck just got a little fatter (I hope) and you have a nice new shiny title to go along with it.  But your world is about to change drastically, whether you believe it or not.    Your job is about to change, and even though you might think you can keep doing much of what you like in your old role, should you?   In this article we provide some useful tips for managing a team you we just a member of.


Build a new support network

Being part of a healthy team is great.  I love the support, fun, and sense of purpose this comes with.  Or perhaps your team has not always been that great to work in.   In either case, chances are you still have your own support network within that you can call on or have a rant to, when you need it.   The team dymamic of your old network just shifted with you changing roles, even if it is not immediately apparent.  Your relationships with team mates is changing from their peer, to their boss.  Chances are some may have even been passed over for the role that you just got.  So, whether they intend it or not, they may harbor some resentment over that as they come to realize that they are now your subordinate.  At least in the early days of you taking over.

So, during the early stage of transition to manager, you are going to need to create a new support network.  A good place to start is with other managers who are now your peers, and with your new boss.  For your new peers, pick one or two who you trust and respect.  People love being asked for advice, as it shows you value their opinion.  This is a fast way to build connections with others.   For your boss, ask them to be patient with you.  Explain that your team needs time to understand that you are now their boss.  Do not be afraid to ask for support from your manager also over this time.


Let go of your old role

Now we come to the next important part of your transition.  Letting go of the doing.   This is hard for technical people who know their old role so well, but it is important.  You might be good at it, but if you want to be good at being a manager it will require all your energy and focus.  You now need to be there for your team.  If there are certain technical tasks others do not do as well as you, then this is a good way to start the transition.  Start coaching your team to pick up these tasks, or hiring your replacement.  Then begin by showing them what to do, then by encouraging them to do it themselves until they have mastered it.

Why is this so important?  Your old role was likely related to just a few key areas of focus or field of expertise.  But being a manager means crossing team boundaries even more and more.  Working with others in different fields, some perhaps completely new to you.  You need to free yourself up to do this.  For example, you will likely need to communicate and engage with people discussing vastly more varied subjects that may be unfamiliar to you.  These can include finance, sales, I.T., marketing, design, production, or legal.  You may also need to engage with customers more, from various cultures and backgrounds.  This all takes energy and time.


Learn about your new role

Your new management role sounds clear, right?   You read the position description.  Well, what is on paper is typically a broad brief.  Do not relying on assumptions.  Ask your new boss what they expect to see from you in the role.  Equally, ask what your team need from you, as their manager.  You will now be their advocate in the organization. Chances are you are used to managing things in your previous role, but now you need to manage team outcomes.  That requires leading and supporting people. Your people.

You have an advantage!  As you have come from within the team you will already have valuable insights about your team members, and the organization as a whole.  Something an outsider could never know early on.  Think about the strengths of your team, who is good at what, and what makes them tick.  This gives you an advantage of using your team at its strengths right out of the gate.   Think about what type of tasks you should be delegating, and who would be best to pick it up.  Also consider the type of culture and environment you want to build so people.  This is so your team understands what your goals are, they feel happy, productive, and trust you to have their back.  To that end, what sort of relationships within the organisation need harnessing or developing?


Identify management success measures

One massive shift your new role brings is that you are now longer just responsible for your own performance or output.  You will be judged on the performance and productivity of your team.   So that means you will have to measure your contribution for helping others succeed.  That might sound difficult, but it just means considering actual outcomes.  What does success look like?  For example, the overall quality and consistency of work, how cleanly problems solving occurs, and how conflicts are resolved.


Understand management accountability

Supporting the above success factors comes down to accountability.  A poor manager blames issues on their teams and hold them accountable.  But in reality, the manager is accountable.   Good managers look at issues or mistakes as learning opportunities and work with the team to find ways of doing better next time.  They take responsibility on behalf of their team.  In response, team members then learn to trust them.  You are being successful when you observe progress still happens even when they are not there.  Your team openly shares new ideas and engage in both their work, and with each other positively.


Tips for managing a team you we just a member of

Final thoughts - This is an exciting time for you, and these tips for managing a team you we just a member of are not meant to put you off!  Just go in with your eyes open that you are starting a totally different role.  This is a new chapter in your career so you will need to let things go for your own sake, and for your teams.  Consider these tips, but above all else build a new support network around you and you will not just be fine.  You will be great!

You might also find our article on what makes a great leader useful.  It’s located here.