After the initial rush that comes with being hired or promoted into a managerial position there’s a lot of room for dread and anxiety to set in. Some new managers have a hard time coping with the transition, since their responsibilities and efforts might be newly focused on tasks that don’t always have immediately measurable impact (mentorship, team growth, et cetera). However, some evidence suggests that people who ascend to leadership positions actually feel less stress than in their former positions when they feel that they have a raised sense of control. One of the best ways to feel confident in a new leadership position is to know what to expect, and what to focus on, before day one.
Learn as much as possible.
It can be easy to assume that a management position is a natural outgrowth of previous duties, but often these new responsibilities require new knowledge to execute effectively. Take note of any new individuals or departments you have to contact now that your duties have changed, in particular. Get a feel for any new duties or responsibilities before giving in to the urge to make all the change you dreamed of when you were at a different stage in your career.
Learn as much as possible about your team.
Effective managers have a keen understanding of everyone who they oversee, including their motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and objectives. Take some time with each team member and learn as much as possible about them. This makes it much easier to communicate with each associate, and provides a clearer picture of what will encourage each member of the team to succeed. Sometimes you will find strong talents who have been utilized poorly by previous management as well.
Don’t play favorites.
On the way to the top, many sales professionals build strong friendships with those on their teams. Expectations have to change, however, when a difference in power enters the relationship. Make it clear as soon as possible that, regardless of any former entanglements, the relationship at work is now one of a team leader and team member. Hold everyone accountable to the same extent.
You’re a coach, not a batter. Start coaching.
Though a manager’s skill at selling individual clients may be what landed them a promotion, it’s not what a sales team needs. Find struggling salespeople and work with them to identify problem areas. A good manager will teach the sales team all the tricks and skills to succeed. Managers who lean in or take point when a team member comes up short ultimately slow the development of the team. Experience becomes much more valuable when shared than when used directly, as a manager.
Do your best to share information.
Many employees feel more at ease when they know why changes are made and how situations come into being. If you have information you absolutely cannot share, be as forthright about why you can’t share it as possible. The rumor mill will spin among your team members whether you provide information or not, so make sure that, where possible, the right information gets out.
Give feedback often.
If a team member’s performance begins to sag, or they consistently have problems with a certain type of client, let them know before the problem gets worse. Sometimes, those under you simply don’t know why they’re having an issue, and this gives you the chance to teach them and avoid worse effects on company sales. Many managers only provide feedback once every six months or once a year, during performance reviews, which can often damage the long-term growth of employees.
Take feedback well.
Employees, fellow managers, and your superiors should all feel capable of sharing their perspectives with you. Making yourself approachable for discussion and critique can help you find ways to improve your management technique. Don’t dismiss negative feedback or criticism out of hand, either. It can occasionally feel ridiculous, but keep track of what you hear. An isolated comment might not be a reason to completely change your management style, but if half of your team and another manager all have similar comments, it might be time to reassess your current efforts.
Encourage the traits you want to see.
Those who want a sales team full of motivated, enthusiastic people who come up with their own solutions should be supportive when team members approach them with new ideas. Be supportive when employees come to you with ideas in need of refinement. Dismissing new concepts out of hand can discourage teams from taking initiative, leading to lost opportunities.