Many people, when they start working, don't have clear goals or a definite idea of what their career path should look like. But many aspire to become a manager. They know they want to climb the corporate ladder, get recognized for their hard work or for being an expert, and become the "boss." They even say, "One day, when I'm the manager, I will..."
The technical expert or the sales marvel gets noticed because of his or her knowledge, and how well he does his work. Organizations often promote people based on their technical skill or previous achievements, but that doesn't mean that they have good managerial skills.
Moving from expert to manager means learning new skills, changing your mindset, and focusing on different goals. That's what we discussed during our #MTtalk Twitter chat on Friday, June 24. The chat was buzzing with more than 60 participants, who shared more than 700 tweets during the hour.
Questions about the path from expert to manager
Here are the questions we posed and some of the responses they received:
Question 1: Yesterday you were the expert, today you're a brand new manager. How do the skills of an expert and a team manager differ?
@JulieMRodriguez: As an expert your goals were based on your success. As a manager your goals are based on the whole team's success.
@ZalkaB: It's a shift in work and mindset. As expert you provide insights, solutions & skills; as a manager you oversee, run big picture.
Transitioning from expert to manager comes with a whole host of challenges. We wanted to know:
Question 2: What do you see as the greatest challenges when transitioning from expert to boss?
@amypen64: Learning to let go of the lower level work. You need to manage the team, support the team. Not do the work of the team.
@GThakore: Getting acceptance from the folks for a new role and responsibility.
The previous response led us right into our next question:
Question 3: How can you make it easier on yourself to move from peer to boss?
@TwisterKW: Continue to learn. Build communication skills. Prepare to modify relationships.
@ShereesePubHlth: I explain my transition from expert to manager this way, "I no longer get paid for what I do; I get paid for what I get done."
Question 4: What will you need to stop doing in your new role?
@temekoruns: Focusing on the minutia and buying into the bigger perspective to help the executive leaders implement their strategy.
@danceswithlyons: Stop any former preference/allegiance to certain team members. You need to always be seen to be playing fair.
Question 5: What will you need to start doing in your new role?
@NootsCaboots: You need to establish boundaries. Realize that now you make the decisions, you're not going to get along with everyone.
@harrisonia: In your new role as boss, encourage the exchange of ideas & listen to those that differ from your own.
Many people felt that the next question was one of a manager's biggest challenges.
Question 6: Is it more important to get to know the people or get the job done? Why?
@hrsanjaynegi: Take care of people and they will take care of work.
@amijo224: Rather delegate as much as you can and focus on the bigger picture. Allow your team to take ownership of the job.
Question 7: How will you handle people who'd like to see you fail in your new role?
@Singh_Vandana: Stay calm. Balance the push and the pull.
@harrisonia: Quick answer: If I fail, the team fails also. Do you still want "me" to fail?
Question 8: Who can influence your success as a manager and why?
@MicheleDD_MT: Senior managers: need to see that you are creating value for the organization. Great results = more opportunities for the team
@Dwyka_Consult: Anybody who can help you overcome challenges and difficulties. They'll give you energy to go on when you feel like quitting.
Question 9: What is the one thing that you would do to set expectations with the team?
@Midgie_MT: To set expectations would be to talk and agree together how we will operate going forward, much like a Team Charter.
@risktakermdu: Communication and brainstorm on how we are going to reach expectations.
We asked participants if they had any tips to share from their experience.
Question 10: What are your top tips for anybody transitioning from expert to manager?
@Yolande_MT: Ask for help as often as you have to. It's better to ask for help than make costly mistakes
@hrsanjaynegi: Don't find fault, find remedies.
Next Time, on #MTtalk…
Are you struggling to make yourself heard in a meeting? Or do you maybe talk too much and in too much detail?
The topic for our next #MTtalk on Friday, July 8, 2016, is, "Team meetings: do you help, hide or hinder?" As always, it will take place at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. BST). We’ll be glad if you can join us on Twitter to share your thoughts and ideas with us.
To join the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on "All Tweets" and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. To participate, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the feed.
If you'd like to learn more about transitioning from expert to manager, here are some resources for you: