When I first became a manager, I requested to attend a Supervision 101 seminar. Was it because I thought I wasn’t going to be a capable boss? No. I had already taken leadership courses, as well as acted as an assistant manager for a couple of years. The reason I wanted to go through additional management training was that I knew it took a certain type of person with certain types of skills to be an effective, successful supervisor. It made sense to me that in order to ensure that I had the proper tools necessary to lead a team, I needed to make use of any and all resources that were out there. I also knew that some of my friends and co-workers had been promoted to a managerial position and it ended up being a poor fit for not only them, but for their staff, as well.
So what can someone expect in this type of role and what does it take to be the boss? If you’re wondering if you have what it takes, or whether you even want to be a manager, ask yourself these questions prior to climbing the corporate ladder:
- Can you multitask? Managers must be able to juggle a variety of tasks and responsibilities, from daily work activities, requests from your boss, and involvement on organizational committees to staff trainings, presentations, and planning business strategies. Being able to handle and reprioritize what needs to get done is an essential skill.
- Are you a team leader? Being a successful leader doesn’t just mean you have a certain managerial title. You need to be someone who is responsible, trustworthy and forward thinking. Gaining your staff’s respect by respecting them goes a long way toward your employees being proud to say that you’re their leader.
- Can you delegate appropriately? You also need to realize that while you’re the supervisor, you and your team are all in this together. Letting go of some control by delegating certain tasks to your staff is important, not only to make sure that your workload is manageable, but also to show that you trust them to get the job done.
- Are you willing to put in the time? While being able to multitask and delegate are necessary, that doesn’t mean you won’t be working longer hours without additional compensation. While there is probably an increase in salary, becoming a supervisor is also accompanied by a bigger time commitment.
- Can you give feedback – both positive and negative? One of the more difficult tasks to deal with is confronting employees when bad behavior rears its ugly head. Being able to handle conflict between staff members, including putting someone on probation or terminating them, is a necessary evil. The more you avoid negative situations, the less you will be respected, which in turn can lead to more negative situations. It’s just as critical, however, to express positive feedback whenever possible. People typically like to be acknowledged by their manager and this can go a long way towards team/organizational loyalty. Remember to take time to tell your staff members what they’ve done right, not just what they’ve done wrong.
- Do you have a thick skin? There will always be people that have an issue with you simply because you’re a manager. Don’t let it get to you. Most of the time, it really isn’t anything personal. Just let it roll off your back and focus on the positive. Obviously, if it becomes detrimental to your team, then you will need to address it directly and privately to the individual(s) making the statements.
- Are you willing to stand up to your own boss, if necessary? There may be an occasional situation where you need to stand your ground for the sake of your employees. If your boss makes a decision you know will have a negative impact on your team, then it’s your responsibility to let him/her know this. Be professional and be ready to provide valid and concrete reasons.
- Can you be fair? The truth is there are people we like and those who just get under our skin. It’s usually not a problem in the workplace, but when you supervise someone, you can’t make decisions based on whether you like them as an individual or not. You can’t outwardly show these preferences. Instead, your goal as the boss is to be consistently fair to everyone, regardless of your personal feelings.
- Are you able to keep a positive attitude? While being a manager is hard work and involves additional issues you need to deal with, it should also be something you want to do. If you view it as something you have to do, you will easily become burned out, tired and no fun to be around. Remember – your team takes its cue from you. If you’re always complaining or focusing on the negative, this type of attitude will seep into your team and make it difficult for them to maintain a positive outlook, too. This, in turn, can affect productivity, customer complaints and turnover.
The above points are all important questions to keep in mind if a managerial position is in your future. It’s critical for organizations to have the right people in supervisory roles for a number of reasons, most importantly to retain quality employees. As study after study has shown, people typically resign due to an ineffective boss. On the flip side, employees usually stay at a company where they have a manager that they respect and is effective in their role as team leader.
What other questions can you think of to add to the list? Do you have any personal stories to share about becoming a manager? What other suggestions or feedback do you have?
Jeremy joined Empathia (then NEAS) in 2007 as Manager, Client Care Services, then became an Account Manager/Sales Consultant in 2012. He is also a certified wellness and tobacco cessation coach. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Prior to joining Empathia, he spent 14 years in the EAP industry in a variety of roles with another behavioral healthcare organization. Jeremy enjoys reading, photography, music, and spending time with his wife and daughters.