One of the hardest things about becoming a manager is navigating the unique variables and complexities innate to working with different people in specific situations. Unfortunately, most advice new managers go looking for simply can't factor in those specifics, leaving managers to figure it out on their own.
People who are new to managing others typically want and need advice. After all, the transition from producer to manager is anything but easy. And in this age of information, good ol’ Google is often the first place a new manager goes to search for advice to their management challenges. Assuming they find on-topic advice, and also assuming that advice is good, the fact is that most of the advice available to today’s new managers isn’t all that helpful.
Where advice falls short
The issue is that too often, management advice boils down to best practices. It’s a lot of dos and don’ts for specific situations, which in some circumstances can be helpful... if you happen to encounter those specific situations. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are situations that have a clear right and wrong answer. But those situations are rarely what’s hard about being a manager.
What is hard about being a manager is something we call “balance points.” Balance points are those moments, circumstances, and situations that require a manager to carefully balance numerous complex and nuanced variables and data points.
For example, do you drive your team to work hard and finish a project over the weekend, or do you demonstrate that you respect their time off, allow the deadline to slip, and get the work done next week (but behind schedule)? The fact is, sometimes, your team might need to work on a Saturday. But, if you ask them to work every Saturday for the next few months, chances are they’ll burn out, disengage, or just quit. So, as a manager, it’s your job to balance your team’s mental health and work-life balance with the needs of your organization and get the work done.
And that’s what’s hard about being a manager.
Making it actionable
We like to say that if you can Google the answer to something, you know you’re dealing with a specific situation. And if that’s the case, great, Google away. But if not, you’re dealing with a balance point. So then what?
Good news! Over time, as you grow and develop as a manager, you’ll get a feel for those balance points and you’ll get practice handling them. This will involve gathering a lot of information: from your team, your mentors, your leadership, and your peers. And while it’s unlikely these people will have faced the exact same situation that’s challenging you, you can certainly look for analogies and similarities in your situations, leveraging other peoples’ experiences, successes, and failures to guide your decisions.
This is the stuff that really excites us here at Lead Belay. It’s also the reason why, as we designed the Emerging Leader Ascent, we were extremely intentional about providing participants with the space and opportunity to discuss and think through their balance points together.
No more struggling in isolation, stuck in your own head, wondering if you’re on the right track. Now, you have a supportive team on your side. On the flip side, what works for someone else might not work for you, but it gives you an opportunity to think through a situation you might not otherwise encounter and expand your toolset as a manager.
Accelerating your progress
Malcolm Gladwell believes that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery over a skill. Our team at Lead Belay believes that we can help new managers by optimizing those hours, significantly accelerating their growth and development.
Instead of just accepting that becoming a great manager will take five or more years of 40–60-hour work weeks, you can benefit from the 40–60-hour workweeks of your peers, increasing the reps on your management muscles and leveling up that much faster. We believe—and are demonstrating—that with the Emerging Leader Ascent, our nine-week program for new and emerging managers, you can progress a year or two faster than the normal timeline and growth trajectory most people face on their way to becoming great managers.
And that’s not only because you’ll see the issues and balance points others face and work through them together, but because you’ll do so in a psychologically safe setting with guard rails, coaches, and leaders ensuring there is purpose, actionability, and accuracy in everything you learn and experience throughout the program. You’ll not only discuss and explore the challenges your peers are facing, you’ll also consider how those challenges and situations relate to you and your own unique balance points.
"Five (or six) heads are better than one"
Going back to our example at the beginning: should you ask your team to work through the weekend? In the Emerging Leader Ascent, you’re set up with the ideal group setting to get thoughtful input from your peers.
Maybe you’ll hear about the time a fellow manager was terrified to ask, but once they did, they found out their team was excited about the work and more than willing to get it done.
Another manager might have a good idea for how to reward your team once the work is completed.
Someone else in your group might point out how, when there’s an open dialogue consistently between you and your team, no one should ever be surprised at having to work over a weekend, and how that can soften the blow when it does occasionally happen.
The Emerging Leader Ascent helps new managers dramatically accelerate their growth and development, while simultaneously helping others do the same. And while we’re big fans of Malcolm Gladwell here at Lead Belay, we’re not convinced it takes 10,000 hours to become a great manager. Get in touch and we’ll show you what we mean.