Promoted? Management 101 for New Finance Managers
I don’t believe in “born” managers. Sure, some people take to it more naturally, but for most of us, “management” is something we have to work at…consistently, along the long stretch of our careers.
If you trained in Practice, you might have been lucky enough to be introduced early on to the world of supervisory responsibility, and learnt a few early career lessons, but for many financial professionals, end-to-end “management” accountability doesn’t usually come until you’ve got a good few years’ PQE under the belt. And let’s face it, it’s tough – especially if you’re a new manager, and specifically when you’ve been asked to take on the role and manage people who perhaps used to be your peers.
#1 Don’t try to conquer the world – build your position gradually
As a new manager, you must be at least prepared to face resistance – even if you’re lucky enough to command the respect of your peers already. We all know some people don’t like change, and sceptical as some people are of authority, combining the two things – change and authority, can result in a rough induction for a new manager. As a new leader, understanding the reasoning behind this is essential. Take time to observe your team, assess your team and how they perform, interact with co-employees and how they react to you. Begin to create a view on what needs to be changed and how you are going to go about doing it, and regularly bounce these ideas off your line manager or mentor before preparing to implement them. As new manager, ensuring you do not make poorly considered decisions and judgements in public view is essential, as is gradually assuring your team of your capability through mitigating rooky errors and driving gradual change.
#2 Understand the drivers and motivators of the people you are managing
It might not surprise you that one of the biggest disconnects between new leaders and their teams is a perceived insensitivity to other’s needs. Take time to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t judge, engage. Meeting once a week over a period of a few months will not only build stronger connections and bonds but will reveal more and more about your team’s fears, passions and goals. Undoubtedly, you’ll find that different team members have varied career objectives, and that actually, they enjoy different things about their day-to-day jobs. Finding this out takes time, but utilising it to align their key strengths with your team structure, and your team vision, is crucial to motivating and retaining an engaged, and productive, workforce.
#3 Find a mentor and seek feedback regularly
Although you might be keen to prove yourself on your own input, consider what you can gain from others. Working with official and unofficial mentors is an important part of any manager’s development, and the more support you can utilise the better. Setting up a regular feedback session is critical to successfully developing as an effective finance manager. It might feel like you’re being judged, but actually, it’ll be the best learning experience you can get. One caveat – although it is important to seek feedback from your team, be careful not to create an environment of push back or challenge to your leadership while you establish your style. Instead use these meetings to seek more holistic feedback from your team on working practices, environment and their development goals, to help you refine your leadership agenda.
Above all, don’t lose your own set of values in your management style – remember that authenticity, consistency, transparency and humility is key to great leadership. Be true to yourself, and the rest will follow.
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