Recognize the key competencies and required shifts that it takes to succeed in your new role. How can you set yourself up for success? People who transition successfully maintain a balance between analytical skills, creative skills, and people skills.
The first step in shifting from technical expert to manager is realizing that people in those two roles often view the same business challenge from a different vantage point. Just like in a courtroom where two eyewitnesses provide independent accounts, neither one is wrong, they just notice different things and take in contrasting information. Before I dive into those elements, I need to give you the disclaimer. The purpose behind this discussion is not to stereotype technical professionals or managers, but to help identify some common characteristics that are often associated with each group.
Some of these qualities may not specifically apply to you, but recognizing the general tendencies could be helpful as you move from one side to the other. Here it is in a nut shell. Technical professionals tend to be task-oriented while leaders are more people-oriented. It's transactional versus relational, project-focused versus personnel-focused. Technical professionals have probably had a lot of training throughout their career, but it doesn't always prepare them for this kind of relationship-centric shift.
And that can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for those who take on a leadership role. Let's unpack that a bit. Those who fall into the categories of software engineers, IT experts, and data scientists are typically analytical and data-driven. They're rational and methodical. Their attention is laser focused. Solve the problem, find the answer. Given a choice, they usually opt to skip the office drama. And they aren't likely to be the first on signing up for the team bonding experiences.
Again, that's a generalization. But if those descriptions resonate with you, you're not alone. Great managers, on the other hand, are also organized and focused, but more flexible and open-minded. They pause to contemplate other possibilities, they envision more than one right answer, and leaders are typically patient. They have to be as they try to integrate diverse personalities into a cohesive group. To be clear, strong leaders are just as passionate about problem solving, but they do that with and through their team members.
Instead of being all about product functionality, savvy managers think in terms of team functionality. How can I combine these human components to create the most efficient and productive solution? Same thought process, different building blocks. One of the best ways to demonstrate these core differences is to think about how these contrasting groups spend their time during the day. I hope you'll download the supporting handout on this topic for a visual reminder. Technical professionals might be tasked with supporting and monitoring a company's local area network or communication system.
They might be involved with creating solutions for customers, designing systems, developing code, or programming software. And, of course, they are the calm, steady troubleshooters everyone's depending on during the crisis of a network outage or website crash. In contrast, managers focus more on the people during their workdays. They invest time to acquire, develop, and retain top talent. They set team goals that will support the company objectives. They monitor their employees' progress and provide feedback, either recognizing and rewarding great performance or correcting any problems.
They translate the organization's vision and make it real for people who are often on the front lines with customers. And the seasoned managers, they look for innovative ways to inspire and motivate their team members to achieve and, hopefully, exceed their goals. Without a doubt, a company's success depends on both of these types of jobs to be done well. But moving into the management role requires that you understand those core differences. Recognize that your day is going to look and feel different.
Expect that going in. Managers place a high priority on people and relationships. Start now to view your goals through that lens rather than the more cut and dried view of meeting production quotas and product deliverables. It can take some time to make the adjustment, but moving in that direction gives you a huge headstart on being a successful, influential manager.
- 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