In Parts 1 and 2, I focused on how new managers can begin to make the transition from being a team member to being in charge. Often times, new managers feel a sense of reluctance due to (1) a fear of acceptance, (2) a fear of loss of control, or (3) a combination of both. As such, I discussed the importance of aligning individual behaviors to balance the need for being both "demanding" and "empathetic" as a leader, and that through the alignment of your behaviors, you can begin to create credibility and trust as you step into the leadership role.
But, alignment goes beyond just your individual behaviors as a leader, and it must include the actions and behaviors of your people.
So, what's the next step in getting your team aligned?
Alignment, from a team perspective, is about getting people to work on the right things. It's really about effectiveness. In making the transition to being a new manager, it is imperative that you get the actions and behaviors of your people alligned with the team and organizational objectives as quickly as possible.
The key to doing this is through performance goals. Now hold on - don't go running away! Performance goals are important because they create the foundation to level-set expectations with your new team members. Importantly, they enable you to provide feedback throughout the year. After all, you can't hold people accountable to standards that they never knew about to begin with.
For new managers who tend to be reluctant due to a fear of acceptance, you may be tempted to take a hands-off approach when it comes to performance goals. You may even hear yourself saying, "I just want to empower my people and let them do it themselves." However, if your approach is overly hands-off, your people may get frustrated by the lack of clear performance expectations.
For new managers who tend to be reluctant due to a fear of loss of control, your tendency may be to over manage or micro-manage the process. You may even hear yourself saying, "It is faster to just do this myself than give it to others." This may be frustrating for your team members who value independence and automony, and your management style may be misconstrued as not valuing their contributions.
Again, it is important to maintain a balance of being empathetic and demanding (see parts 1 and 2 for details).
To effectively establish performance expectations and align your people, one of your first steps as a new manager is to make sure that team members are clear about the big picture so that their individual goals are aligned with the organizational expectations. Your next step is to help your team members create their individual performance goals and to ensure they are aligned with organizational goals. This process should absolutely be a collaborative effort, and should look similiar to these steps.
1. The manager should share the team and organizational goals.
2. The team member should independently develop his/her individual performance goals.
3. The team member and manager should jointly review the individual performance goals and make adjustments as needed. There must be agreement and buy-in from both parties in this process. The manager's job is to make sure that the individual performance goals are aligned with the organizational level goals. If people are working on items that are not aligned with team and organizational goals, they are working on the wrong things.
4. If goals change throughout the year they are modified/updated within the performance management system or documentation.
Here are some common mistakes I see new managers making throughout this process.
1. Not establishing performance goals upfront (or delaying in creating)
2. Imposing goals on team members instead of making it a collaborative effort (this is the fastest way to lose commitment from your team members)
3. Creating irrelevant goals that have nothing to do with a team member's role, and as such, never get accomplished during the performance year
4. Failing to review goals throughout the year (reviews should happen on a monthly or quarterly basis at a minimum)
5.Failing to provide feedback, both positive and constructive, throughout the performance year
6. Adding new goals to a team member's performance plan without discussion and agreement
7. Not conducting a performance appraisal at the end of the year
As you transition into your new role, think about the following.
1. Do you tend to be a reluctant new manager because of a fear of acceptance or fear of loss of control? Both?
2. How can you align your individual actions so that you are balancing the much needed characteristics of being demanding and being empathetic?
3. Have you taken the time to share your team and departmental goals with your team members?
4, Have you and your team members collaboratively developed individual performance goals?
Making the shift from peer to manager is not easy, but by quickly aligning your individual actions as a leader and the actions and behaviors of your people, the transition will be smooth, well received, and meaningful.