Hear about a real-world example that demonstrates the benefits of managing with an expanded perspective.
This section of the course emphasized the importance of expanding your perspective. That was the key for one of my coaching clients named Kelsey. Kelsey was a technical subject matter expert who was then promoted to management. After eight months on the job, she was struggling to handle the new position and was feeling completely overwhelmed. That's when she made an appointment to meet with me. When Kelsey walked in, I could see the stress on her face. She looked exhausted and emotionally tapped out. After we talked for a few minutes, I asked her to tell me about how she spent her time during the week.
Once she detailed the jam-packed chaos of her typical days, not to mention her evenings and weekends, her exhaustion made complete sense. I was tired just listening to it. Kelsey had the best of intentions to be a great manager, but she hadn't made the all-important shift to the management perspective. She was basically trying to do her old job and her new job at the same time. You see, Kelsey had always been the go-to person for answers about the company's signature product line, and she was understandably proud of the immense knowledge she had amassed in that area.
She was generous with her time, and eager to apply her expertise to solve all types of problems for her team members. The problem was, Kelsey was spending a good part of her day helping others, so she ended up doing her work after hours and on weekends. She didn't have enough time to coach her direct reports or think about the strategic implications of her decisions. She was burning the candle at both ends, and she was stuck in a terrible rut of putting out fires instead of being a fire starter.
This is a common challenge for technical professionals who become managers. They thrive on being that preferred resource for technical knowledge, and it's hard to let that go. But it's critical. Kelsey couldn't focus on team results, and business implications, and customer preferences if she was consumed with network issue or product bugs. That focus was too narrow for a manager. Kelsey needed the wide-angled lens. I asked her to start setting boundaries to encourage her team member to seek their own solutions, and to reevaluate the way she spent her days.
She needed to increase the time she devoted to management activities, ensuring consistent communication, coaching her employees, tracking key performance metrics, and building networks. After a few months, Kelsey began to find gracious ways to offload those technical duties, sometimes closing her door when she needed uninterrupted time to think, or even using a conference room or off-site location to provide the separation she needed to break free from her subject matter expert persona.
As her former coworkers began to see her as a manager, they started to take on more responsibilities themselves, learning the technical nuances and finding solutions on their own. Kelsey became more deliberate about organizing her day as a manager, and allotting time to the important leadership activities that would help her have a more powerful impact on her team, inspiring them to become more independent and productive. Once Kelsey made mental space to expand her perspective, her success as a manager followed closely behind.
- Moving from technical skills to relational skills
- Becoming more self-aware
- Communicating with greater impact
- Moving from individual to team results
- Broadening your perspective
- Building productive and meaningful relationships