Connector Corner: My Time As A Team Lead

Transitioning to any new position in the workplace is both exciting and daunting. We all push ourselves. We get up in the morning every day so we can work hard to prove ourselves to our superiors and hopefully earn that coveted promotion. However, with that higher salary comes more. Those who transition from peer to boss face more challenges, more pressure, more deadlines, more time management, more work and more accountability. You’ve been in the passenger seat long enough to know the roads and understand the basic concepts, now it’s your turn to take the wheel.

At the start of the year, I was made a team leader after working the better part of 2012 as a part-time connector for Copypress. Although I had worked and collaborated with others on projects before, I had never been officially in charge of anyone in my life. The proposition was nerve wracking, but I was eager and up to the challenge. Cut to roughly four months later and I feel like a different person. Here are some things I’ve learned that come with transitioning to a managerial role.

Get to Know Your Team

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This may sound like a no-brainier but it’s something that many supervisors simply don’t take the time to do. This is especially true for managerial positions that are more collaborative than doctoral  If you learn your employees’ personalities, quirks and work style, you will have a better grasp on how to communicate and lead your team toward success. Learn their strengths, weaknesses, what they enjoy and what they dislike about their job. Once you both have an understanding of who you’re working with, you can set more accurate goals and adjust your workload accordingly.

Lead By Example

Nothing will earn more respect from your team as a leader than getting in the trenches and doing the work yourself. When management becomes too out-of-touch with what the realities of the job and shows poor performance on their end, resentment can form among employees. I’ve found my management style to be most successful when we’re all gelling together like a ship out at sea. Sure, I’m giving orders and guiding us along our path, but I’m also getting my hands dirty and doing my fair share of the workload. There’s nothing worse than a supervisor who cannot pull his or her own weight.

Stay on Task

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Time management is perhaps the biggest challenge for me that I still struggle with. I’ll be honest, I’m a notorious procrastinator and have always had a difficult time scheduling things and planning out my tasks for the day. Nothing has tested that for me more than this job. Juggling tasks like training new people, reading and sending out emails, answering questions, team meetings and strategizing often leaves little time for my duties as a connector. Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with some ideas in an effort to improve my time management:

  • Setting phone alerts to go off a few times during the day to check work emails
  • Only sending outgoing emails three times a day
  • Setting aside two hours a day to “go dark” and accomplish the more tedious parts of outreach (i.e. data mining)
  • Continuing to set goals on a weekly basis in terms of tasks that can be accomplished

Moving into management has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Never before have I been so fully immersed in my job and truly connected with the people I’ve worked with on a professional level. Every day is a challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.