Transitioning to a new management position is a valuable learning experience that enhances knowledge, sharpens skills, and develops abilities. Employees grow from these experiences and gain a deeper understanding of what managers do and why they do it. The transition involves examining processes, activities, and management roles. It also stresses the importance of managing and leading effectively. Employees develop an understanding of how managers plan, organize, lead, control, staff, communicate, solve problems, make decisions, and more. According to Russo and Shoemaker (2002), “Experience is knowing what happened. Learning is knowing why it happened” (p.198). To successfully transition to a new management position, here are ten suggestions to enhance employee learning and knowledge.
1) Understand the Purpose and Organizational Alignment of Management
Managers influence business drivers, directly or indirectly, such as cash, growth, profits, asset utilization, and people (Cope, 2012). According to Reilly, Minnick and Baack (2012), “Managers are responsible for helping to achieve an organization’s goals and desired future outcomes. Managers are also responsible for supervising employees and making the most of an organization’s resources” (p.21).
Successful managers align themselves with organization goals, strategies, systems, structures, and culture. They understand the importance of learning how things get done within their organizations.
2) Understand Your Organizational Culture
Effective managers understand their organization’s culture and learn what is rewarded and recognized. According to Weiss (2015), “If we understand the dynamics of culture, we are less likely to be puzzled, irritated, or anxious when we encounter the unfamiliar and seemingly irrational behavior of people in organizations, and we will have a deeper understanding not only of why various groups of people or organizations can be so different but also why it is so hard to change them. Even more importantly, the more we understand about culture, the more we understand ourselves and recognize some of the forces acting within us that define who we are” (p.132). Effective managers know how to apply their knowledge to situations within the organizational culture. They possess emotional intelligence (self and relationship management, self- awareness, and social awareness).
3) Understand Systems Thinking
Systems thinking is a critical thinking approach that takes into account all the interdependent and interacting elements of a system to address a problem and make a decision.A system may consist of people (employees, managers, suppliers etc.), structures, processes, technology, or the general business environment. Rather than analyze only a single subsystem prior to making a decision, systems thinking is broad-based and considers all the components of a system and the impact of a decision across the entire organization.
4) Understand the Five Primary Functions of Management
Reilly, Minnick, and Baack (2012) stated, “At the most fundamental level, management is a discipline that consists of a set of five specific functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. These five functions are part of a body of practices and theories for how to be a successful manager”(p.17). Management expert Henry Mintzberg looked at the tasks managers do and grouped them into three roles–decisional, informational and interpersonal (Mind Tools n.d.). Understanding the roles managers perform – is critical to organizational effectiveness.
5) Create Your Own Professional Development Plan
Businesses change, markets change, and customers change. Thus, taking an active approach to professional development, on and off-the-job, is necessary to stay abreast of change. Resting on your degree simply isn’t enough to advance a career in management -today. Continuing education is necessary to develop new skills, sharpen existing skills, and understand the direction of change in the business world” (para.3). Seek out a mentor or coach who you – respect- and who can facilitate your professional development. Take advantage of potential opportunities for learning that are available inside and outside your organization.
6) Make a Daily “To Do” List – Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
Do you like to write your goals down and keep a plan in front of you? For many people, writing down goals can keep them prominent and make goals seem attainable.Consider setting short-, mid- and long-range goals. Evaluate your goals every 30 days and reset them as necessary. Some goals may stay the same and new ones will be added as you move forward in your professional development:
- Short-Term Goals (First 30 Days)
- Mid-Term Goals (30 to 90 Days)
- Long-Term Goals ( > 90 Days)
7) Be an Ethical and Effective Leader
People are the most important asset to an organization. Accordingly, people should be led ethically and effectively. According to Weiss (2015), “Ethical leadership involves acting with a moral purpose and the integrity to do what is right, just, and fair in the service of common good. Ethics are based on right and wrong and encompass the values and morals that an individual, society, or institution deem acceptable and desirable” (p.85). . According to Reilly, Minnick and Baack, (2012), “Leading in a business context, consists of all activities undertaken to help people achieve the highest level of performance. Leadership influences behavior in organizations. Effective leaders influence behavior in positive ways to achieve goals and tasks of the organization. Ineffective leaders influence behavior but do not achieve desirable results” (p.125).
8) Understand and Apply Transformational and Transactional Leadership
Leaders who are flexible and adaptable to situations use transformational and transactional leadership styles. These leaders apply their emotional intelligence (EQ) to adjust to different contexts. According to Burns (1978), “Transformational leaders influence, inspire, move and literally transform followers to achieve organizational goals beyond their self-interests (as cited in Weiss, 2012, p. 62). In contrast, Weiss (2012) states, “Transactional leaders plan, schedule, control, and work with subordinates on detailed tasks. Their work is mostly transaction or exchange based” (p.69).
9) Promote Teamwork and Inspire Creativity and Innovation
Teamwork is a popular way to get things done because by working together everyone achieves more. The team leader must be fully committed to developing creativity and innovation. This is accomplished by inspiring a shared vision and goals, creating an inclusive process, promoting brainstorming, encouraging different perspectives, and employing critical thinking. When teams collaborate and combine their skills and thinking, creativity and innovation follow.
10) Be Optimistic, Resilient, and Use Humor Appropriately
When things go wrong, be optimistic and look for the good in situations. Learn and grow from your experiences. Set goals to implement improvements. According to Weiss (2012), “Optimism refers to having a positive outlook or thinking positively; optimistic leaders tend to see the good in people and organizations and believe in favorable results. This doesn’t mean leaders are blind to the negative; they are simply able to see possibilities and seek opportunities. Imagine if Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had stopped at Macintosh computers, or if he had allowed a power struggle with the company’s board to halt his career” (p.25). Resilience is one of humanity’s most useful traits. It refers to an individual’s capacity to thrive and reach their full potential despite insurmountable problems. Individuals who have the capacity to bounce back following a difficult or stressful situation are mentally tough and resourceful. Resilient individuals keep problems in perspective and do not allow problems to seem bigger than they are (Seibert (2005). Humor is critical to team effectiveness by boosting morale. Gay and Donald Lumsden (2004) tell us that humor takes the mind out of logical, linear, predetermined tracks and into new patterns; it allows us to think about things in new ways.
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