It doesn’t necessarily follow that just because you’re great at your job, you’ll naturally make a great manager. Management is a learned skill and if you can understand a few of the basic principles you will get off to a great start. Here's my top five;
1. Feedback. There is a very small, very old book called ‘The One-Minute Manager’ - read it. Try catching people doing things right to start with. Focus on what happened rather than your opinion. “I listened to that call and your approach immediately calmed him down. I think this was because you…” Avoid ‘yes-but’ feedback. “That was really good but maybe if you…”. If this becomes a regular style, employees ignore the positive start and brace themselves for the negative punchline.
2. Coaching and training. Your most important job as a manager is to improve the people working for you. Introduce regular and well-planned training that addresses the knowledge gaps of your staff. Don't just use ‘chalk & talk’ training. Get people involved and regularly test their learning. On skills, you need to agree a framework of feedback and learning both on-the-job and in the classroom. This is most relevant in sales where observation and role plays are far more effective than PowerPoint slides and ‘watch-me’ coaching.
3. Mood. Displays of emotion are often counter-productive because they undermine your message and authority - if you lose your temper you lose the argument. I often see new managers adopt a deliberately surly demeanour as a defence mechanism and a badge of authority – this is a mistake. As you develop as a manager you will become deliberately more vulnerable. This opens up more space for creativity, employee development and good decision-making.
4. Consistency. You often read this as a trait of a good manager but what does it really mean? Here's one example. Some people are easier to manage than others and weak managers will focus only on receptive staff. More difficult employees will start to get away with behaviour that you have deemed unacceptable behaviour with others. Not only will the more difficult employees not develop, but good employees will notice the unfairness and eventually resign, leaving you only with awkward, unproductive employees.
5. Friendships. When managing a team, you cannot have favourites, even if you were friends together in the team before you were promoted to manager. The friends will unwittingly take advantage of you and others in the team will start to resent them – and you. If putting some distance between you and your friends is likely to cause bigger problems, you should consider moving either them or yourself to a different team.