The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you prepare for a management role? is written by Amit Srivastav, president of Infinite.
Anyone looking to rise to a management position should hone in on their goals and establish good relationships with people. I am certainly aware that these are easier said than done – there are always a lot of moving parts in management, and vision and relationships can fall by the wayside to make way room for results and revenue. However, they should be a leader’s priorities. Your long-term success depends on it.
The lessons can be hard won. In my first management position, I was immediately pulled into the weeds of the operations at my company, and didn’t have much time to prep myself or my team beyond my first impression. Though I ultimately met my goals, it took me a while – almost six months, by my measure – to build rapport and trust within my team, which complicated the path to reaching our mutual goals.
As with many things in life, preparation is key.
Define your (personal) goals
Goals and trust go together, and it is the right path to grow a business. On the goals end, I’m not just speaking of business objectives, I’m speaking of how you define your personal goals as a manager and how you plan to accomplish them. The preparation stage is the right time to do this. This is where research and introspection focus in on what kind of manager you want to be, and where you personally want to bring your company.
Establish good relationships
Once you set how you want to define your role, make building relationships with your team a priority: in order to be a successful manager, you must have support from them. They must understand and trust that you are guiding the team in the right direction.
Trust is key, and it starts with communication. On the manager’s end, that often means being transparent and honest with your team on your goals. It does not mean blurring the line between professional and personal; on the contrary, it means establishing that you have your employee’s best interests in mind.
Equally important to good communication is listening to your employees. Not only do they want to know where you are leading them, they want to know that they are vital to the business and are able to take ownership of their success.
Listening also means approaching failures in constructive ways – instead of just a setback, and a source for criticism, it’s an opportunity to learn and pivot. Doing so builds up your employees. It also helps avoid creating unnecessary barriers for communication – I have seen too many managers get steered askew because employees were discouraged from sharing when there were warning signs and troubles ahead.
When I accepted my current role as President of Infinite, I took a month off before I started my new job. I used this time to establish relationships with all the business heads that were going to be part of my team. Through formal and informal meetings, I established the basics that were needed to hit the ground running both for me and my team. They knew where I was coming from and I got feedback for my goals; I aligned their goals to mine. This convinced me to make sure that each of my employees always have a voice within the company. I also established the first company town hall. It is a tradition that continues to this day and is invaluable as a feedback mechanism to making me a better manager.