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From Peer to Team Leader: 5 Keys to Making a Successful Transition

The first promotion is a special moment. Make the most of it by having a clear understanding of how to effectively transition from peer to team leader. Here are the 5 keys to achieve a successful transition!

“Mary, I want to congratulate you on your promotion. It’s official!” This is one of the most anticipated phrases by most of us with careers in large corporations. At first, a promotion fills us with pride, feelings of accomplishment and self-realization. Especially if it is one of the first promotions in our careers. The one that propels you from peer to team leader.

In my experience as a HR executive, ambiguous feelings tend to arise for those who have been promoted. For example, the desire to lead vs the concern of being perceived as authoritarian; an interest to position yourself positively in the eyes of the boss vs. the fear of being isolated from the team due to being perceived as a brownnoser.

It’s natural to be concerned about the transition from individual contributor to leader of those who were until recently your own co-workers. The people with whom you shared common codes and an easy camaraderie. This transition is certainly a challenging process. My goal is to share 5 strategic keys for you to make a successful transition from peer to team leader.

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

Going from peer to team leader is an awesome step in your career

From peer to team leader in five simple steps

1Establish yourself in the new role organically while securing a few quick wins

You should aim to adapt organically to your new role as a leader. That is, avoiding drastic changes that could alter the climate and team performance. Trying to impose ideas, avoiding social gatherings or showing little availability for the members of your team are some of the pitfalls to avoid. The ideal solution is to adopt your leadership style gradually. Keep in mind that the first 90 days in your new role are extremely important as they set the tone for the team as to what to expect of you. According to Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” published by the Harvard Business Review, you must secure some quick wins during this time. If you want to know how to do it watch this 2 minute-video where Watkins explains it.

2Build Your Own Leadership Style

While you should give yourself some time to adapt to the new role, it is also important to think about your own leadership style. While you figure it out, try to avoid making drastic personality changes that may cause bewilderment, anxiety or resentment among your teammates. For example, if you were known as a person with a good sense of humor, it would be odd to stop smiling or making a harmless joke here and there. You can learn more about different leadership styles by taking this quiz.

Whatever leadership style you decide to adopt, I suggest you avoid any extremes: neither too authoritarian nor so friendly that you lose your team’s credibility and respect. Positive influence, a democratic approach to decision- making and active listening are three qualities to keep in mind for a leadership style that fits well in today’s workplace.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

In your career progression, you will go from individual contributor to team leader. Being prepared is a big part of your success.

3 Identify any teammates that may not be taking your promotion well

When a team member transitions from peer to team leader it is likely to cause changes in the internal group dynamics and in the relationships between its members. It is important that as a leader you make an initial diagnosis of the situation after your promotion and identify whether any of your former peers is dissatisfied with your appointment. Consider for example, that perhaps one of your colleagues applied for the same promotion and may now be frustrated for not having been selected. Whatever the case, it is good practice to hold individual meetings with every team member. They are great occasions to share your strategic vision for the future and let them know about your current double role. On the one hand, you will support their individual professional development and on the other you will focus on the success of the team as a whole. Finally, you have to be willing to accept that after the rules of the game have changed some people may decide to leave. This will be a sensitive issue both for yourself and for your team but rather than letting yourself be frustrated by this situation, focus on your future plans.

4 Seek the advice of those who have successfully transitioned from peer to team leader

A common mistake is to believe that now that you are a leader, others expect you to solve everything on your own. Asking for help is not a weakness. On the contrary, experienced professionals often ask for help in order to be successful at their job. Therefore, I suggest connecting with other leaders within the organization to ask about their own experiences and breakthroughs when they were promoted for the first time. You can also request recommendations for any internal training courses available for first time managers. In addition, if you have a mentor, this is a great time to exchange thoughts, share any concerns and ask for advice.

Here's a great  article to get the support of a mentor

Last but not least, your direct manager is also a key player and you should ask for his support if there are difficult or more complex issues that you don’t know how to approach.

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

Wearing the badge of boss proudly will involve learning how to successfully transition from being a peer to team leader

5Partner with HR to learn about team management practices and policies

When you go from individual contributor to team leader, the development and management of the team becomes a priority in your agenda. Now, you will be in charge of team management decisions such as:

  • Identifying the training needs of the employees
  • Requesting the necessary budget for a job opening
  • Evaluating performance to allocate salary increases

Don’t let the new items on your agenda overwhelm you. Take it easy and learn every aspect of the talent management cycle based on need. Build a strong partnership with Human Resources from the get go to accelerate the learning curve of internal policies and procedures as well as the unwritten rules of the organization. For example, you may run into an unwritten rule when trying to get approval for a new job opening. The official procedure may be to create a job requisition through the ERP and to wait to obtain the approval in the system. But the unwritten practice may be to connect in advance with the regional director and obtain his/her approval informally before the formal request arrives at their desk. This informal practice is as important to your effectiveness as the formal procedure.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

When you are promoted for the first time it may create feelings of ambiguity.

Finally, I would like to invite you to celebrate the new journey you are about to begin. Becoming a leader is extremely rewarding, and meaningful leadership is built daily. Transitioning from peer to team leader is the first step. So there’s nothing better than to start off with the right foot!

Climbing the ladder: What women don’t know

Why aren’t more women climbing the ladder at corporations and organizations of all kinds? It’s the million-dollar question. If you really want to change the status quo, read on!

We’ve been debating this question for a long time. Mostly because it’s unfathomable that so little change has happened in decades. Are women not climbing the ladder because of a personal decision or because of organizational biases?

Climbing the ladder: Three responsible categories, not two!

Let’s look first at two, broad categories that most commonly take the blame for making it hard for women climbing the ladder.

Organizational responsibility 

There is an array of factors that deliberately or inadvertently impact the number of women at the top in a negative way. These include barriers such as unwritten rules, policies, expectations, and perceptions of what constitutes leadership potential, executive presence, etc.

For instance:

  • Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Expectations that in order to reach the C-suite you must be available 24/7. Or work late every night to entertain clients.

  • Expectations that women are still mostly responsible for family matters.
  • Perceptions of men being more competent or having more executive presence.
  • Regular skepticism, push back and challenges of women’s ideas and competences.
  • Fill-in positions through recommendations of current executives in office. (These tend to be white men and have a network with a similar make-up.)
  • Value face-time in the office for promotions(penalizing people who are mobile.)

Personal responsibility

This group of factors includes your own behaviors and decisions that impact your career trajectory.

For example:

  • How assertive you are in your communication and leadership style.
  • How strong your network of sponsors is.
  • How hard and often you negotiate for yourself along your career.
  • How visible you and your accomplishments are to key people.
  • How comfortable you are taking risks.
  • How important other pursuits outside of your career are for you.

Now, in trying to figure out which of these two categories is more responsible for women not climbing the ladder, we keep pointing fingers with little visible results.

The truth is that here’s a third category that connects Organizational and Personal. One that we haven’t paid as much attention as it deserves. One that can really make the difference.

Joined Responsibility

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

This category is the space where both individual women and organizations share responsibility for more women not climbing the ladder. Due to the way in which organizations have traditionally perceived and promoted men and women, and social norms affecting both genders, some advice and training fell through the cracks. Companies didn’t offer it. Women didn’t ask for it.

This advice refers to the expectation that a person must have certain abilities in order to reach C-level. Advice that hasn’t been verbalized as often to women as to men. And women haven’t asked about it either. Here are the areas that may be holding you back at any level:

  • How focused you are in business outcomes. (Both the outcomes of your own role and on how they impact the overall outcomes of the business.)
  • How closely you align your role in the organization with the business strategy. (Can you answer why the company is paying your salary? Hint: Think of the “why” you do what you do.  Not the “what” it is you do.)
  • How much financial acumen you have. (Do you know how to affect the company’s bottom line within your own role? At any level, it’s important to understand how what you do affects the financials of the overall company.)
Check out Susan Colantuono’s brilliant book on this topic!

Mastering these three aspects will make it easier for women climbing the ladder to get to the very top. If you are a manager, supervisor or an executive, you may need to start sharing this type of advice with your subordinates. Offer them coaching and training programs to fill-in any gaps in knowledge. If you are an individual contributor, this is your call to action. Don’t let one more day go by without seeking help in this area. Here is a great, very inexpensive Business Foundations online course, taught by Wharton Business School.

It's important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

It’s important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

As women, we already have many of the advantageous characteristics that make for a successful 21st Century executive. Make sure you don’t overlook the business, financial, and strategic abilities that are taken for granted at higher levels. You may not have thought about them much along the way and they may be the one thing that’s holding you back.

 

 

 

 

 

Talent Strategy — The Weakest Link in HR Strategies

Do you want to take your talent strategy to the next level? Today we’ll cover how to Retain Top Talent. Read on!!

Key piece of your talent strategy —How to retain top talent

Sometimes, attracting top talent is not the hardest part of the talent equation. It is retaining talent that keeps heads of HR up at night. As a matter of fact, how to retain top talent (particularly women and diverse employees) has become a highly competitive sport. Even more so with the Millennial Generation, known for needing to be valued.

Read about the 10 Successful Tactics for Motivating Millennials at Work.

We had a chance to talk to Arturo Poiré, Vice President & Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson, the giant technology company. (Full disclosure, he is, with Mariela Dabbah, the co-author of The Latino Advantage in the Workplace, and the voice of Arturo’s Corner in Dabbah’s Find Your Inner Red Shoes.) Prior to his position in Ericson, Poiré was the Global Head of Talent Management at Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Arturo Poire, VP and Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson

Arturo Poire, VP and Global Head of Talent Management at Ericson-
Co-Author of The Latino Advantage in the Workplace

As many of its competitors, Ericson recently released its diversity data and committed to setting up recruitment goals for increasing the number of women and minority hires. In the last couple of years they have ramped up their diversity and inclusion efforts. They have been involved with initiatives to increase women in operations and decision-making positions such as Battle of the Numbers and Women Up.

Do you have an answer to the million dollar question, How to retain top talent? And more specifically, women and diverse talent?

There is no single answer to this question. Organizations need a whole range of supporting systems in place to make them an attractive employer. In research conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (Off-Ramps and On-Ramps Revisited 2010) they describe what motivates highly-qualified women as high-quality colleagues: job security, being able to be themselves, flexible working, collaborating with others, giving back to the community, recognition and compensation. An organization that focuses on these areas coupled with development at all levels, agile career paths, sponsoring and mentoring, and a culture that embraces differences is off to a good start.

Talent Strategy Advice

What is the best talent strategy advice to attract women to male-dominated professions and industries?

Organizations need to work harder at not only getting women interested in male-dominated industries but also getting young girls interested from an early age. Talent acquisition and talent management functions need to work together and align on talent strategy to enable processes, initiatives, programs and offerings to complement each other. Talent acquisition needs to focus on establishing long-term communication and engagement with diverse talent communities, high schools and universities, while talent management focuses on retaining and developing diverse talent.

Many opinions about male-dominated professions and industries are quite outdated. Focusing on what a career within a specific field may actually look like and what opportunities it may offer is just as important as shedding light on specific initiatives, activities or offerings targeted towards female potential employees.

Align your talent acquisition and management functions with the overall talent strategy. And make sure all HR roles remain aware of their own biases.

My advice to women – Performance will always be key to a successful career no matter the industry. Show interest in many areas and broaden your competence every chance you get. Do not be afraid to step in to bigger roles and stretch assignments. Seek roles where you develop a customer focus. Make sure you have career and development plans in place. Get yourself a mentor or a sponsor. If you are not satisfied with the situation where you work, raise your voice and if you have ideas of how things should work differently – bring them forward. Build your network, both internally and externally. We can only change things if we all strive to improve and find solutions for the future.

Always focus on performance and show your interest in a diversity of areas. | Inspirational quote about performance

Always focus on performance and show your interest in a diversity of areas.

What is an effective way to get your entire organization behind your diversity and inclusion talent strategy?

Engaging the entire organization in a culture of constructive dialog around diversity, inclusion and talent is a first step. In many cases, progress is hindered by lack of awareness, by the inability to challenge unwritten rules, or by the culture of the organization itself. Organizations need to engage individuals at all level to get buy-in, not only on talent strategy but also in its implementation.

Commitment from top executives is also important to confirm that diversity and inclusion is recognized as business-critical and a must for retaining talent.

How do you get past the idea that the moment you actively try to diversify your talent, you are not getting the best people for the job?

Every time we talk about diverse talent, this is linked to not hiring the best person for the job. We need to move away from this bias that women or ethnic minorities, if selected for a job, are not the best talent. I believe competence always comes first. We (organizations) need the best talent regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

In order to continue to stay competitive, organizations need to further diversify their workforce. A diverse team is better for business; it delivers better results, more creative solutions, connects better and easier to the world around us, and has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

How to retain top talent when its quality is questioned

For all the talk about retaining talent, we keep hearing stories about high- achieving diverse employees leaving companies after having been passed over for promotions. How do you integrate the overall talent strategy with specific tactics for retaining talent?

An organization needs to define its vision, mission and talent strategy as a starting point. We must agree on what we are trying to achieve and the ways to do it. Once this has been defined, an action plan or specific tactics can be defined for an integrated approach.

An important aspect to remember when talking about retaining talent is not only focus on how to “fix” the “diverse talent” but rather to look at it from two perspectives. The talent (and all aspects connected of supporting and building talent) and the hiring managers, recruiters and decision-makers (and their mindset, approach and potential prejudice.)

Are we truly unbiased when working with our talent pools, nominating employees for assessments, appointing to key positions and strategic projects? Are we honestly an equal opportunity employer?

Being an equal opportunity employer may not necessarily mean offering male/female/homosexual/disabled candidates exactly the same benefit and compensation packages – it is about creating the same opportunities for advancement and success. That could mean offering a single father a daycare solution or someone who is visually impaired the best-in-class tools. But the question remains: are we offering equal opportunities to let everybody explore their full potential?

How to retain top talent when organizational practices get in the way

What organizational practices are contributing to unconscious bias? What are companies doing to review the processes they have in place to mitigate potential biases towards women and diverse talent?

Talent strategy: Engaging the entire organization about diversity talent strategy is a critical first step

Engaging the entire organization about diversity talent strategy is a critical first step

Talent management must be a role model when it comes to scrutinizing their own behavior and how it impacts others. As the professionals in talent management and HR are the people who maintain the organization’s culture, we must pay extra attention when defining, describing and phrasing behaviors and characteristics that are required and identified as desired in a candidate.

We may unconsciously be confirming stereotypes, cementing behaviors in leadership and performance, when designing incentive schemes and defining recruitment criteria. As an example, we can look at mobility where we tend to use confirmation bias in the belief that men are, generally speaking, more mobile than their female counterparts. In the same manner, we align mobility with leadership and also promotional opportunities, which ultimately creates a bias against women.

Sufficient awareness of unconscious bias will enable organizations to review and question processes and definitions of leadership. It will also provide the opportunity for the business to discuss potential biases when key processes are being implemented, such as performance management and at calibration when key decisions about people are being made. Only education and constant awareness will help mitigate biases, as this is something that is always present as part of human decision-making.

Read About The RSM Step Up Plus -- A Year-Round Empowerment Program
A sustainable, measurable way to attract, engage and promote your talent.

A sustainable, measurable way to attract, engage and promote your talent.

3 Ways to Lose Your High Potential Latinas

Are you making these mistakes after hiring those high potential Latinas? Would you like tips on how to identify these high potential employees? Read on!

It happens so often it’s painful. A high potential Latina goes through a relatively short period of unbridled excitement about her new job, and after exceeding all her boss’ expectations, she does a 180 and looks for the door. You can’t help but ask, what the heck?

Mistake 1- Breaking promises to high potential Latinas

The story goes something like this. A high potential Latina, let’s call her Arlene, is hired to fulfill certain duties. After awhile, her boss, Henry, realizes she’s really good at her job and he gives her increasingly larger responsibilities. She’s excited, steps up to the plate and produces outstanding results in a short period of time.

3 ways to lose your High potential Latinas. Read on to find out how to identify them!

You may be surrounded by high potential Latinas.

Arlene invests long hours at work not only because she loves what she does but also because Henry told her that when her colleague, Tony, leaves in six months for another position, she will be promoted.

The six months come, Tony leaves, and Henry tells Arlene that he has decided that the results she produces are very hard to come by, therefore she needs to remain in her position. They will hire someone else to fulfill Tony’s job. Come again?

But wait, Arlene surely got a salary bump, right? Producing such great results and all… Nope. Not a dime. Zip.

Disillusioned and feeling undervalued, unable to make sense of what happened, Arlene decides to look for another job where her “unparalleled contributions” are appreciated and compensated. But most importantly, a place with a clear career path.

Mistake 2 – Not seeing a high potential Latina as a high potential employee

Yes, unfortunately, this happens quite often as well. You’re desperately looking for those unique gems to create a strong talent pipeline but inadvertently overlook the high potential Latina employee staring you in the eye. Why? Because she (or her resume) doesn’t look like they have the qualities of a leader. My question is: are you looking closely enough?

Let me give you an example. Daysi was the first in her family to go to college and she inspired, motivated, and supported her two younger sisters to do the same. She studied aviation administration at CUNY (City University of New York,) founded an organization for women in aviation at her college, did internships in aviation and at my non-profit organization, Latinos in College. She worked for JetBlue and for an aviation services company at La Guardia Airport before starting a career in retail at Target and now at Macy’s. She has a very unusual background to work in retail and you could be fooled into thinking she’s jumping around. Or you might underestimate her, because she didn’t go to a top tier school.

Are you making these 3 mistakes after hiring those high potential Latinas? Read on to find out!

High potential Latinas may have unusual backgrounds. Photo credit: Galleryhip.com

But believe me, you’d regret overlooking Daysi as the high potential Latina with all of the leadership qualities you seek. See, when you dig a little deeper, you realize this is a young woman committed to her community, who always goes above and beyond the call of duty both in her personal and professional lives.

Daysi thinks outside the box, is solutions oriented, has an enviable ability to network with high-level people, and is unusually open to feedback. She knows what it means to make do with few resources and how to prepare for things not working the way you expect them to. In her early thirties, she has assumed more responsibility than a lot of people will in their entire lives. Her challenging life-circumstances have built her resilience, grit, and hopeful outlook on life. No, you don’t want to lose your Daysis.

Mistake 3 – Pigeonholing Latinas

In a way, this mistake is connected to the previous one. If you pigeonhole Latinas, you’ll hardly see their high potential, right?

What I’d like to propose, is that you might be assigning your high potential Latina employees to areas that you believe they’re well-suited for when, in fact, you’re just following stereotypes for Latinas. Like customer facing or support positions, event planning, and so on. It’s as if you couldn’t imagine an Indian employee anywhere but in the tech department. What happens when that employee is actually a brilliant operations person?

You run the same risk with high potential Latinas. Pigeonhole them and you miss out on their real potential for your company. So it’s smart to keep yourself tuned into your subconscious biases and ask questions.

Supporting the Red Shoe Movement, students from @SLU_AphaRho and @SLU1987

Supporting the Red Shoe Movement, students from @SLU_AphaRho and @SLU1987

When you notice that one of your employees does something brilliantly outside of her job description, explore. Is this something you love to do? How come you’re so good at it? Do you do this in your spare time? If you’re able to connect that amazing skill with a position, she’ll do much better than if you keep her in the box you put her in.

Take a look and you’ll start seeing high potential Latinas all around you. Just keep in mind that quite often their backgrounds, resumes, or schools probably won’t look like your more typical high potential. But digging a bit deeper will unveil a treasure trove of talent in your own backyard.

Meanwhile, take a look at how to ignite your team’s fire!!

Discover how to ignite your team's fire with the RSM Memberships!

Ignite your team’s fire with the RSM Memberships

Old Tactics for Retaining Talent Don’t Work Anymore

If you want the definitive answer to retaining talent, you must figure out how to engage employees. Read about the consequences and how to avoid them.

Jess (40) had been working for many years in sales and marketing at several large communications companies. It was interesting meeting people and attending networking events, and to tell you the truth, she was pretty good at it. But love it? She did not.

Awesome Mondays. I love my job. It's Monday Quote

A great way to know you have engaged employees is finding out how much they love Mondays.

In the past she had turned down offers for promotions because she didn’t want the added responsibilities. Her last job, a large bilingual media platform, was no different. Intent on retaining talent, her boss felt lost at her refusal when he offered her a promotion that came with a substantial salary increase. He knew that rule number one in the “how to engage employees” manual was to offer them growth opportunities. So here he was, doing what he was expected to do and failing miserably at retaining a kind of expertise that was hard to come by. What was the problem?

Nowadays retaining talent involves much more than following traditional rules

Yup. The old rules don’t apply any more. If you’re really interested in engaged employees that lead to retaining talent, and particularly women and people with diverse backgrounds, you have to look beyond the obvious. (You can also read What is Employee Engagement.) Throwing around what may seem to you, as a “great promotion” or a “wonderful growth opportunity” is not how to engage employees effectively. Why? Because if Jess is not interested in sales and marketing, she will probably have no inclination to invest emotional and intellectual resources in that field. She’ll probably do what she needs to get by, or even to reach middle management. But that’s it. If she doesn’t find a modicum of honest interest in the space, she won’t go as far as you envision her going.

The question is: Should her boss continue to fund sales and marketing courses for Jess in hopes of turning her around? Or should he rather find out what excites her so he can help accelerate her career growth in a different area? The latter is much likelier to result in retaining the talent you can’t afford to lose.

Racing in sneakers? Anybody can do that. Ways to engage employees and retain talent. Read on!

If retaining talent is at the top of your list, start by valuing the talent of your female employees.

Here’s what happened with Jess — When the “how to engage talent” question is ignored.

Unhappy at work and not sure what to do about it, Jess attended a few Red Shoe Movement Signature events in search for what interested her. She participated in our mutual mentoring circles and used the occasion to explore her motivations and aspirations. It wasn’t long before she realized she wanted to be a lawyer. She would still love to work in the communications industry but not in the sales or marketing functions. So she went back to school while holding a part time job in the communications department of a small law firm. She also signed up for the RSM Step Up Program so she could continue to strengthen her soft and hard skills.

Fuel Your Employees Career Growth

RSM Step Up Plus
Fuel Your Employees Career Growth

Could this outcome have been avoided?

Well, when it comes to Jess going back to school to seek a law degree at 40, that’s obviously something she needed to do. What could’ve been avoided is for her organization to lose her in the process. They could’ve offered her a part time job in the company’s legal department while she finished school. And once she passed the bar exam, she could have rejoined her company as a full-time lawyer.

The way things worked out, several companies lost the chance of retaining employees as valuable as Jess’ for sticking to a book of rules that no longer applies.