Sunday, February 19, 2006

New managers and their fulcrum

Continuing on my e-slope post, I’ll touch on some of the challenges for new managers.

Individual contributors that become managers for the first time face that challenge of what to do next. What are your new priorities as a manager?

Assuming you are in a properly functioning company, goals should flow down to each individual thus each individual’s efforts add up to reach the goal.

As a manager you own a bigger goal than an individual. Your number is the culmination of all your reports. The key thing about your new goal is that it’s more than a single individual can achieve alone. That’s why you’re a manager.

The normal tendency of a new manager is to focus on performing the tasks of their prior role. Previously that’s how they were measured and rewarded. Now they are responsible for others and their productivity. The key focus instead needs to be on leading and managing.

For example, if you have 4 direct reports, you have the potential to have a 4x impact on your company. You must decide whether your operational leverage is positive or negative.

If you focus on your individual contributions, you’ll have a negative impact amplified by your direct reports. If you focus on managing and leading then you can amplify the impact of your experience. You’ve probably been promoted because of your potential to lead as well as your experience in the job. Your goal is to focus on the activities that will turn the 4x lift on four people to 8x and then to16x on those same four people.

You’ll need to learn to teach someone else to apply what you know. That’s very different from doing it yourself. Exceptional people will rise to the challenge. Focus on leveraging good people.

Bringing this back around to the title of the post – your people are your lever. You control where your fulcrum sits. Place it wisely and your team will have breakthrough performance.

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