Managers must be aware of cognitive habits that may get in the way of being an open, respectful and inclusive leader.. If you want to lead others in a way that’s less biased and more inclusive, be aware of three words that are critical for you to understand.
Becoming a new manager was one of the most challenging times in my career. Suddenly I went from individual contributor, responsible only for myself and my work, to manager in charge of a team of friends. Awkward (and tough!).
New managers become responsible for the success of others and oftentimes don’t know what to expect. If this is you, do know when you make this transition, things will not stay exactly the same. There will be changes and shifts in how you and the team operate. And often, these changes requires self-awareness, patience and hard work.
Watch this video lesson below or keep reading.
As a new manager, you must change the way you think and interact with others in the workplace. Here are three shifts that new managers need to make to help become more successful in their role:
1: Responsibility Shift: You’ve done it! Your hard work paid off and you have been rewarded with the opportunity to move up in the company. The work you did so well before your promotion was most likely individual, meaning that you got promoted or hired because you were strong in your day-to-day work and were stellar as a party of one.
But now things are changing and you’ve got other people’s lives and livelihoods in your hands. There is weight to that. As an official representative of the company there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with the job. You are no longer acting in your own best interest, but in the interest of your team. This requires you to shift your mindset from “Me” to “We”.
2: Liability shift: When you’re the new manager things get trickier. The L word gets introduced to your vocabulary... Liable. That means that your behavior implicates you as well as the company when it comes to claims and lawsuits. As a new manager you have to recognize this shift because it may change the way that you interact with your team.
You are now a leader in the company which means that you have to act like one. The things you say or do may be scrutinized or held under a microscope. While it is an added responsibility, take it in stride with a level of professionalism and behave in a way that you will always be proud of.
3: Mental shift: Not only will you have to change the way you act, but also you will have to change the way you think. Management requires maturity. You have to be mentally prepared for all that’s to come. Leading other people takes courage, commitment and probably a lot more time that you had planned!
Your brain will have to stretch new muscles and think in different ways than before. It will take time and discipline to make this kind of shift, but it is important that you make it. You are no longer thinking like an employee, you are thinking like a leader.
NEED HELP MAKING THE SHIFT?
Three tips for making the shift into management a bit smoother:
1. Set up one-on-ones with your team: Nothing (and I mean nothing) is more powerful during a time of change than meeting individually with your team. Take the time to set up 1-on-1 meetings with each direct report to open up the lines of communication. Make sure that you are both on the same page about responsibilities and expectations.
Meeting regularly shows your team you are acknowledging there has been a change and want to make the transition a smooth as possible. Whether you were promoted from within or newly hired into your first management role, this change isn’t just new for you, it’s new for them too! They may be anxious about how things will shift, so having a private space to ask questions or address concerns allows candor and trust to build.
2. Make a list of both personal and team goals: There’s something empowering about the act of writing goals on paper. It takes it from an idea to action. Take some time to consider the question - What do you hope to achieve as a manager and as a team? Be specific. Write out what you ideally want to see happen for both yourself as a new manager and for the team.
Once you have goals, share them with your team and ask for input. What would they like to see change or improve? Is there something important to them that’s missing? What would they personally like to focus on this year? Creating goals allows you and the team to establish some direction for where the group is headed for the year.
3. Ask for feedback: Let’s be honest, constructive criticism isn’t always fun. No one likes to hear that they are not doing something well. But it is so important to be aware of how things are going when you first start a management role.
Be proactive in your own development. Don’t be afraid to check in with those you work with and ask: “How am I doing as a manager?” Have monthly meetings to ask your team and your peers for feedback, both positive and negative. Learning what is going right and wrong will make such an impact as you are growing your leadership skills.
Now, I know this may seem like a lot to remember. You might feel overwhelmed by the additional responsibilities and changes that have to be made, and that’s OK! Be excited that you have been given the chance to prove that you’re a rockstar. It may take more time and effort than you expected to make the shift as a new manager, but with the right attitude, focus, tools and self-awareness you can do it.
I’m rooting for you!
Sometimes work sucks.
But you already knew that, didn't you?
Sometimes, that very thing you've worked your whole adult life to achieve; that very thing that most hours of most days you mostly like, well, sometimes it sucks.
The core of the conversation is the question: "what changes this for you?"
Now this question - what changes for you? - is really about owning the situation, whatever situation that is. What can you do? What's in your control to help you when everything seems to be spiraling?
Make a list of all the things you can start right now, things that will help you claim a bit of sanity back. Certainly, these aren't going to solve all the huge unwieldy problems going on at your office, but they will give you a small sense of control at the precise time you feel utterly out of control.
So before you go and scream, "I quit" at the top of your lungs, do realize that there are a few things under your control when it comes to getting back in balance.
Things you can control:
1. The time you arrive and leave the office - If you are coming in at 6 am...stop. If you are staying til 8 pm...stop. Trust me, if there is that much work it requires you to come in so stinkin' early and stay so late, it will all still be there no matter what hours you work. Do something for you in the morning (workout, meditate, walk the kids to school, whatever makes you smile inside), THEN start your workday. When the rest of the day goes to hell in a hand basket (as we know it will), at least you've already done one thing that's been personally rejuvenating.
2. Whether and when you check into the office - Imagine you took a couple days off and then proceeded to take multiple calls and respond to emails the entire time. Whaa? It's called a day off because you are supposed to be OFF. I completely understand if you say things will be easier when you return if you do these couple things while you on vacation, yet that's the antithesis of having time off. You must reclaim the hours outside of work and make them sacred for you and your family.
3. Invoking the 5/5/5 rule. When you feel overwhelmed, ask "Will this matter in 5 days? In 5 months? In 5 years?" Then, rearrange a few things on you priority list by asking these questions. That conference call on a Sunday night that caused you to miss your son's first karate competition? That's gonna matter to your relationship with your son in 5 years. It makes decisions like that super clear.
4. Saying no. We're people pleasers and more often than not that means we say yes to everything. Sure, I'll bake cookies for the school carnival. Sure, I'll host book club. Sure, I'll cover the meeting for you. Sure, I'll run myself ragged doing things that absolutely don't help me get out of this situation. Say no. Look at all the activities you are committing yourself to both at work and at home. In a state of overwhelm, something needs to go.
It's true, sometimes work sucks. But you don't have to feel helpless, even if it seems things will never change. Take control over these small things and perhaps you'll find some calm in that storm.
I have a quote on my bedroom wall that reads, "Every day you are alive and someone loves you is a miracle." And, honestly it is. Now is the time when we stop taking life so much for granted and we start seeing each day as a miracle.
Breathing? Check. Roof over head? Check. Food in fridge? Check. Money in bank account? Check. Feeling loved? Check. All of that, is nothing short of a miracle.
I think though we forget that. We forget to find gratitude in the small things (which actually are kinda big - I mean, hello - breathing!). We forget that tomorrow a Mack Truck may intersect our path in a not-so-good way. We forget that nothing is guaranteed, even though we act like it is all day long.
Let's make a pact.
Let's commit from this day forward to inject a little miracle-ness into our days. Let's make each day our own special miracle that is deserving of awe.
Let's be reminded just how wonderful this world is. Isn't it amazing that you are on this planet, circling at 1,000 miles per hour in an ginormous atmosphere, living your own special little life?
It's utterly mind-boggling.
Don't forget how awesome waking up alive is; don't forget your loved ones are a gift, not an obligation; don't forget to be thankful for all the pieces and parts of your life that you are really damn lucky to have.
A commitment to remain in a state of awe is no small thing. It's a responsibility you have to fulfill every single day. And trust me, most days we'll probably all forget.
We'll revert back to autopilot. Slide back into unconscious participation in our own lives. We'll wake up, do stuff, go to bed and do it all again the next day. We seem to be stuck in a state of same ol' same ol' and our days go by without much thought. That's the habit I want to break from here on out.
Are you with me? Are you ready to commit to kicking autopilot's ass?
Here's a few unconsiousness-busters to help you remain in a state of awe:
1. Tie a red ribbon on your steering wheel. I'm serious. A big, red ribbon. Every time you jump in the car and see it, take a long deep breath and say thank you to the universe. Out loud or in your head, doesn't matter. Take 2 seconds to say what you're thankful for.
2. Set a couple of alarms on your phone to go off every day and label them with little reminders, "9:00 am: text a sweet note," "Noon: drink water," "2 pm: smile." Whatever you want to be more conscious of doing throughout the day.
3. Keep a notebook by your bed. Before you lay down, write three things that made you happy that day. This simple act has the power to change your view of life, I know because it did for me.
Trust me, incorporating change into your life is hard! It's helpful to have a few triggers to remind you. Red ribbon is a trigger, a phone reminder is a trigger, a notebook by your bed is a trigger. Use these or think up a few on your own.
Friends, the world is going to keep spinning but with a few reminders to spend each and every day in awe, it'll be a blessed journey nonetheless.