Over the last 12-months I have moved into a leadership position within our company, Optimum Consulting. Managing/Leading a team is something that I have wanted to do since I entered the workforce and a goal that I have spoken to my manager about for the last few years. I think it was even something that we discussed before I left the business to move to NSW when there was a foot of water flowing through our reception area…. But we won’t get into that right now!

When I first started in recruitment I interviewed a lot of people and spoke to them about their “next move” or what their plan was to advance their career.

I automatically assumed that the next move in their careers and in order for them to advance themselves meant that they would move into a leadership role. I had assumed that if that was my goal that surely that’s what everyone thought?

It was only after speaking with these candidates that I realised some people hadn’t really thought about being in a leadership role and others had managed staff previously only to now harbour no desire at all to do that. They would rather focus on their own work and become experts in those areas.

There is no right or wrong answer in that discussion. Just because you don’t want to be a manager doesn’t mean you are doing nothing with your career. In fact, just because you don’t want to be a manager doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a leader and an influencer! But that is another topic altogether.

What I have learnt are some valuable lessons that I thought I would share.

Some of these are probably very obvious to a lot of you, but hey, perhaps a couple of you current or soon to be FTMs (First Time Managers) might get 1 thing from this!

  • Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance: This is relevant for anybody in pretty well anything they do, however, as a manager you now have other people’s workloads and concerns to take care of. Not only do you need to organise your own day, you also need to prepare for all meetings, catch-ups and wrap ups or risk losing control as well as the respect of your team!
  • Be clear with your expectations: I was recently asked, “does your team know exactly what you expect from them?”. My answer was, “Of course….. actually, probably not 100%”. You might assume that they know. You may feel like you’ve explained enough of the concepts for them to piece the rest together. My advice, in order to avoid disappointment, be VERY clear about what you expect from your team and in return, make sure that you deliver on what you have said you would for them.
  • Take a genuine interest in your team’s personal life: I am by no means suggesting that you need to become BFFs with your team, but I do think that it is important to understand what makes them tick. What motivates them, what’s important to them and what do they enjoy. This can be really important when considering remuneration and benefits in the future. If you know that one of your team loves the movies, buy them ‘Gold Class’ tickets as a reward instead of a boozy lunch. If they value spending time at home with their young family, give them half a day off rather than a bottle of scotch. Understand the little things and you can ensure your staff are highly engaged.
  • Recognise that your own work will change. What success looks like for you as a FTM is different to what it looked like as a worker before. By no means should you simply become a manager who doesn’t “do” but you need to realise that your goals will most likely be different then what they were pre-staff. Cut yourself some slack, talk to your manager about what a win would look for you in your new role and pivot your goals as required.

As I said, these aren’t exactly ground-breaking thoughts, however, they were things that I wasn’t fully ready for.

Hopefully someone reading this can stop and think about 1 or more of these before taking on a role as a manager or perhaps it will remind a current manager to stop and reconsider what they are focusing on.

Isaac Dufficy – Executive Consultant 

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