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An Alternative and Informal Way to Johari’s Window: Discover your Blind Spots

Being aware of your blind spots is always useful. But to grow in your career and particularly when you work with others it’s invaluable. Check out this alternative and easy-to-implement method to Johari’s window.

For decades, many people relied on the Johari’s Window technique. Created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955, it’s an exercise where subjects pick a number of adjectives from a list that they feel describe them. Then, the subject’s peers are asked to choose an equal number of adjectives describing the subject. These adjectives are introduced into four quadrants (see image.)

  1. Open Area: Includes adjectives that were selected by the subject and his/her peers.
  2. Blind Spot: Includes adjectives only selected by the peers.
  3. Hidden or Façade: Includes adjectives selected only by the subject.
  4. Unknown: Includes the adjectives nobody selected.
Johari's window quadrants. Check out this alternative and easy to implement method to Johari's window.

Johari’s window quadrants

An Alternative and Informal Way to Johari’s Window

This exercise is aimed at increasing your self-awareness, learning how others perceive you and discovering any blind spots.

It came to mind as I was recently listening to Shonda Rhimes talk about developing memorable characters.  I found it fascinating that one of the questions she tries to answer about them is “what don’t they know about themselves.” In other words, one of the most successful creators of contemporary TV dramas focuses on her characters’ blind spots in order to advance the plot.

I couldn’t help thinking that this would be a very useful alternative to the Johari Window when asked in the context of one’s career. An informal way to discover blind spots that may be interfering with your growth or with achieving certain goals.

So I put my little theory to the test with a few friends and colleagues. What follows is what I learned in the process. Warning: Read on before you try this at home.

Blind Spots: Discovering them helps you grow

Blind Spots: Discovering them helps you grow

To Discover Your Blind Spots, Provide people with a very specific question

It’s a mistake to think that you can throw out a question such as, “What do you think I don’t know about myself?” and get useful answers. (Not for nothing, the Johari technique offers 56 specific adjectives to choose from.)

Although it may seem like a specific enough question, it’s really not. It opens the floodgates for people to discharge any old grunt they have with you and tell you things they don’t like about you. (Which you probably knew anyway.) So, it’s important to say something specific such as, “When it comes to my professional life, what do you think I don’t know about myself? Things I may do in an automatic way that may be a blind spot of mine?”

Clarify the reason why you are asking the question

Many people may think you’re fishing for compliments. One of the people I asked recorded five long messages describing my personality. And although it’s always uplifting to hear people you admire say nice things about you, that’s not what you are going for. To grow, you not only need a steady diet of cheerleaders and people who’ve got your back, but you also need to know what you don’t know.  And who’s in a better position to share that with you than those same people who will give you the shirt off their back? So, you have to be clear about the reason you are seeking these insights in order for everyone to feel comfortable providing them.

Discover your Blind Spots with this Alternative and Informal Method to Johari's Window.

Discover your Blind Spots with this Alternative and Informal Method to Johari’s Window.

Before you ask, prepare yourself to truly listen

Even before I offer a simple framework to help people give you the feedback you seek, a warning. You shouldn’t embark on this journey unless you have a thick skin and have learned to take criticism in stride. Asking for this kind of information is a risk both for the person asking and for the person providing the answer. You may hear things you didn’t expect to. Some stuff will be great and other stuff will probably be uncomfortable, surprising, or painful. But if you ask for it, you have to be ready to take it. You can’t get upset or start giving the person counter feedback, which they haven’t asked for. Think about it this way: This person is taking a risk by offering insights they think you are not aware of. They do it because they care about you and your growth. Don’t penalize them for being honest.

Carefully choose those you ask

For several reasons, this is not a question you can just ask just about anyone in your network. So choose wisely who to include in your experiment. These are the parameters you should consider when selecting someone:

  • They should know you well
  • They know you in a professional context
  • You should trust that they have your best interest at heart
  • They don’t hold a grudge against you
  • They are not your siblings 😉
To grow in your career, you not only need cheerleaders but people who tell you what you don't see about yourself.

To grow in your career, you not only need cheerleaders but people who tell you what you don’t see about yourself.

Provide a framework for people to use for their answer

Through the years, I’ve developed a thick skin. It was the only way to survive in business. But I wasn’t born like this. It used to be very hard for me to hear what others had to say about my performance. But as you mature and realize you won’t die every time someone says something negative about you and that on the contrary, those comments help you grow, you become stronger.

So when I thought of going through with this experiment, I just asked the question without giving it a second thought. I didn’t feel that I needed to give my friends and colleagues a framework for providing feedback because I instinctively knew I could take whatever they had to say about me. Until someone brought to my attention that that was one of my blind spots. 1) Not realizing that not everyone is ready to ask a question like this and deal with the answers. And 2) not realizing that not everyone has the necessary emotional intelligence to modulate the kind of feedback they give to different individuals depending on that individual’s temperament. Touché.

So here’s the framework

Send an email explaining why you’re asking the question. “I’m interested in discovering any blind spots that I may be able to leverage for my career growth and I need your help. Would you mind telling me, ‘When it comes to my professional life, what do you think I don’t know about myself? I’m not referring to what some of my weaknesses are, but about any particular behavior, belief, attitude, gesture, etc. that I may be unaware of. The idea is to discover some areas that I may be able to put to better use for my career, and others that I may need to tweak to move forward. In order to make the most of your feedback, please try to frame your comments within one or more of the following constructions:

  • You should consider doing more of…
  • You should consider doing less of…
  • Sometimes you do x… which has y… as a consequence. Perhaps you could consider doing more of z…
  • Under x circumstances you tend to do y. I’d suggest you do more of z/ or less of b”
Learn how to ask others for feedback with this alternative method to Johari's window.

Learn how to ask others for feedback with this alternative method to Johari’s window.

What to do with the feedback

Once you review the feedback, sit on it for a bit. Don’t make any rash changes or decisions. It takes a minute to digest this kind of insights and to understand what you can use and what you can’t. Or what you don’t want to.  Keep in mind that you’re asking people to guess what you don’t know about yourself.

I received a bunch of answers that were not blind spots of mine at all. Things people thought I didn’t know about and which in fact I make overt use of in my professional and personal lives. (Like I was very histrionic, for example.) Clearly, if you had as many years of psychotherapy as I had (part of my Argentine upbringing) or if you have been exposed to coaching or any other practice that develops your self-awareness, it will be harder for others to discover any true blind spots. That doesn’t mean that they are not there.

If done with your eyes wide open, this is an informal way of getting to some valuable information about yourself that can help you unveil where the opportunities for growth lie.

If you're ready to move up in your career explore our successful Step Up Plus program!

Switching Industries: A Personal Story on How to Do it Successfully

Are you thinking of switching industries but are afraid it may mean, “starting over”? Think again! I did it and it gave a great boost to my career! Read on!

Switching industries is among the reasons why 34% of LinkedIn users, globally, make changes in their careers, according to a 2015 global survey by LinkedIn.  Not too long ago I was among this cohort of people who wanted to switch industries.

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Think of the process of switching industries as the process of researching for a major purchase

Before switching industries, I worked in beauty

I spent ten years working in beauty before I made an industry switch to pharma. First, I started with a marketing consulting job within advanced analytics in which I measured the payback of marketing dollars spent on fine fragrances. Less than two years later, I was recruited by Avon as one of the first associates to join their newly established market research function.

The majority of my beauty career was at Avon, where I spent eight years, which is unheard of for anyone considered a “millennial,” even an older millennial like myself. Within those eight years I didn’t switch industries (or companies for that matter,) because I realized Avon was fertile ground for me to gain the skills needed to be competitive in the marketplace. I had the chance to learn from colleagues with backgrounds that spread across all kinds of industries, from food and beverage, beauty, consumer goods, and so on, who came from much revered organizations such as Kraft, P&G, Unilever, and Pepsi.

I had the opportunity to work on whitespace projects for marketing, global advertising, be the co-Chair of Avon’s Latino Network, travel globally and domestically. My clock started ticking at the eight year mark, so I continued my career at another beauty company, Coty, Inc.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

After ten years in the beauty industry my clock started clicking. I needed to change industries to grow.

I received very positive reviews during my time at Coty. So once I proved to myself I could succeed there, I started thinking about how to strengthen my career and stretch myself beyond my experience in research and beauty. I took a closer look at the senior executives around me, and those with whom I had worked with at Avon and I noticed a common thread. They all had very diverse backgrounds. There was not a single executive who had spent their entire career in one industry, one market, or one function.

I suddenly had a major aha moment: I needed to think about switching industries.

I decided to explore opportunities and came across a post for “Healthy Appearance” at Pfizer. The role focused on the functional skills of Consumer Insight professionals and noted skin care experience preferred. A few days after submitting my application and resume through Pfizer’s portal, I received an email from Human Resources which kicked-off a series of interviews.

Here's a great post on interview tips for when that time comes!
There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

There a several aspects to consider before switching industries

Key steps to switching industries 

1Before you switch industries, start with doing your research.

Think about how you would approach a major purchase such as a car. When we are in the market for a new car we typically research certain brands. Our exploration consists of extensive online searches, discussions with close friends and probing our extended network on social media. When you consider switching industries you should apply the same approach. Define what industries you’d like to explore and seek information around:

  • What’s going on in the industry? Get information such as, market share or ranking of the top competitors, the trends within the industry and how companies are responding. Dig deeper to understand what’s working well for the company and what have they identified as areas of opportunity. A good source for this is a company’s annual and quarterly earnings reports. This is public information.
  • Once you have identified the companies you’d like to apply for, look into their philosophy on talent development. A key signal that helped me determine whether a company fostered development of their associates was whether they had an Employee Resource Groups (ERG.) Keep in mind Fortune 500 companies may have ERGs/BRGs, but this might be less common in small to mid-size companies.  In this case, lean on online reviews and conversations with people in the network to get a sense of their talent development policies.
  • Use LinkedIn to browse through the profile of people who share your job function and role within the industry you want to change to. We often think switching to a new industry will require starting at a lower position. While this varies by industry, you will likely find out that you and your counterparts in other industries share a large skillset. Also, keep in mind, companies sometimes want an ‘outsider’ who can bring fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.
As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

As with all major things in life, expanding your network can be very useful when you think of changing industries

2Stepping out of your comfort zone to make connections is part of the process of switching industries

  • LinkedIn should be the top app in your phone during this process. The goal is to identify people who are currently employed or formerly employed by companies within your industry of interest. If your connections are limited then begin exploring 2nd and 3rd level connections on LinkedIn and see if a mutual contact can introduce you. If you have zero degrees of connections then upgrade to LinkedIn’s premium package so you can message the professionals you’re interested in reaching. In your initial message briefly introduce yourself, and kindly ask for 10-15 minutes of their time to get their perspective on the industry. Let them know you are considering opportunities in their industry and/or their company. You may have to follow-up a few times before you hear back. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Also, take a look at the organizations that your industry of interest is associated with or supports. Perhaps there are events you can attend to make connections.
  • When I applied to Pfizer, I immediately began to search within my network and expanded network to identify people to talk to. During this process I remembered that two years before I was connected to someone in pharma via email by a mutual acquaintance. Back then, the individual wanted feedback from me on a research project she was leading. She was looking for diversity of thinking from several industries to maximize her initiative. I was on her list! Fast forward two years, I remembered this occasion and wrote to her a brief note reminding her of our past exchange and voilà! I had a new contact who could give me industry insights.
  • At this stage of the process, keep in mind that the purpose is not for the individuals you connect with to get you a job, (though that could be a very nice outcome!) The purpose of this process is for you to get context about the industry and to get sense of the industry language. As you may know, there are nuances to each industry. The more you speak the industry lingo, the more likely it is that others will see you as a good fit.
Expanding your network to include men, is critical for career growth
Get context and insights on the industry you're considering to change to

Get context and insights on the industry you’re considering to change to

3Put it all together and re-frame your resume to better position yourself for the new industry

Now that you have taken the time to understand the industry you want to switch to, take a moment to determine what all of the information means for you. What changes, if any, do you need to make to your resume and on your LinkedIn profile to better position yourself?

Take stock of your skills and identify which ones are transferrable to the roles you are interested in. Amplify the skills that are foundational to your role and provide examples of how you used them to impact the business. Each function (i.e. marketing, accounting, finance, etc.) has skills that are considered fundamental. These fundamental skills do not change industry to industry and they are transferable.

For example, in the world of market research a foundational skill is the ability to synthesize custom and syndicated data. So, in my resume I provided concrete examples on how I did this globally and regionally to drive business impact. Just like these, you can easily transfer skills such as ability to influence, communicate, and problem solve. They are the cornerstones of any position.

The thought of switching industries may seem daunting. I will admit doing the work upfront to be better positioned for a new industry takes time and can be a challenging process. But look, if you’re ready to turbo charge your career and you’re ready to explore changing industries, I say go for it wholeheartedly. It took me several rounds of interviews and at the end, I was hired! And now that I’m involved with Advil, the global best-selling over-the-counter pain medication, I can honestly tell you it was worth every minute of preparation.

 

Be a Magnet for Career Opportunities. Learn from Beth Marmolejos!

Wonder no more how to attract the best career opportunities. Beth Marmolejos is an example of how when you build a reputation of integrity and commitment, the opportunities find you.

Beth Marmolejos at the Red Shoe Movement Signature Event striking a pose with RSM Principle 2

Beth Marmolejos at the Red Shoe Movement Signature Event striking a pose with RSM Principle 2

Beth Marmolejos is an Executive Advisor in the IT Account Management area at Anthem (the largest for-profit managed care company within the Blue Cross Blue Shield association,) and she serves as the Chief of Staff for the Women’s Inspire Network Associate Resource group. But that’s just her day job. She’s also the President of the New York Chapter of Prospanica (formerly NSHBMA,) and the Vice Chair of the Passaic County Workforce Investment Board, among several other volunteer positions she holds. Beth has received many awards from local, state, federal, corporate and non-profit organizations for her leadership and community work. She has crafted a professional life that fits her style, her passions and her goals. It is through these multiple commitments that Beth Marmolejos creates career opportunities for herself and for those in her network.

As president of the NY Chapter of Prospanica (Formerly NSHMBA) Beth Marmolejos creates career opportunities for others.

As president of the NY Chapter of Prospanica (Formerly NSHMBA) Beth Marmolejos creates career opportunities for others.

RSM— You’ve had quite a career trajectory. Tell us about some of the highlights and how you tapped into the various career opportunities that presented themselves along the way.

Beth Marmolejos (BM)— I started my journey in the business world without a degree at an entry level in the Accounting Department at Express Scripts (formerly known as Medco Health Solutions.) While there, I was able to get my under graduate and graduate degrees, 80% of which were paid for by my employer —as long I got a B or better in my classes.

It took me over 10 years to obtain my education. I was able to move within the Finance area to different roles that helped me prepare for the role of “Controller/Director” of Finance for a subsidiary that my company bought. A subsidiary worth two billion dollars. That propelled me to a leadership position and it opened a world of career opportunities for me.

In 2013 I took a leap of faith and left to work in New York City for Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield under the leadership of the amazing Brian Griffin, who was a colleague of mine at Medco. The highlight of this move was that I got promoted within six months because I led a project that saved the company $1M.

Then, one of the senior leaders at Empire BCBS in NYC recommended me for an Executive Advisor role in IT as the Chief Information officer for the State of New York and Wisconsin at the Enterprise level for our Parent company Anthem.

Take note of the secret to attract great career challenges to yourself.

Take note of the secret to attract great career challenges to yourself.

How to find the most attractive career opportunities

RSM— You wear several hats. From being the CIO for NY and Wisconsin at Anthem to being the President of Prospanica NY Chapter and serving in different capacities on other non-profit boards. With all that’s already on your plate, how do you constantly find career opportunities to help you continue to grow?

BM— I don’t find career opportunities…they find me through senior leaders/mentors/sponsors who know my work, my commitment to their success and integrity.

RSM— What are some of the strategies that help you stay focused with each one of your multiple responsibilities?

BM— I have three main strategies:

  • Remain calm and focus on what you are trying to achieve
  • Surround yourself with positive people that help you stay on course
  • Don’t get distracted with things that steal your peace, keep your eyes on the price

RSM— Do you find that creating career opportunities for others is a natural way of opening doors for yourself?

BM— Absolutely! When you lift others up and help them by opening doors it creates an advantage for you. What goes around, comes around!

Make sure that you spread tons of positive energy around as you build your own career.

Make sure that you spread tons of positive energy around as you build your own career.

Learning how to network strategically is another way to open up career opportunities.

RSM— What are three top pieces of advice you’d give people looking for greater career opportunities within their organizations?

BM— Here you go:

  • Treat people with respect, be kind and a team player. That builds your good reputation which you can leverage to obtain better career opportunities within your organization
  • Be a can-do type of person – that is key to getting opportunities for senior roles
  • Be happy, positive and knowledgeable – that is a magnet that attracts people who want to work with you

RSM— Any different advice for those looking for career opportunities in a different company or who are currently out of a job?

BM— Yes, get involved in organizations such as Prospanica, of which I am the NY Chapter President, and you will have access to tons of career opportunities.

RSM— What’s the next big project you’re working on right now? 

BM— I’m focused on a couple of upcoming events we are organizing with Prospanica. Celebration of Achievements – where we will give out scholarships on 11/27/17 at Oppenheimer Funds.

And in honor of the International Day of People with Disabilities we have an event with the UN Nations at S&P Global on 12/14/17

At a personal level, my next big project is to obtain my Agile SAFe Training certification.

You can connect with Beth Marmolejos on Twitter and Linkedin

 

Ladies: Find Your Dream Job with Fairygodboss by Your Side

If you’re ready to find your dream job you landed on the right page. Meet the people who are connecting women to great places to work.

How often have you tried and failed to find your dream job stepping instead into another organization ill prepared to nurture your potential? The truth is that until fairly recently, it wasn’t that easy to know enough about a company’s culture before you signed up for the position. Much harder to figure out how committed to a woman’s career trajectory it was. But Fairygodboss is changing that with a marketplace where professional women looking for jobs, career advice and the inside scoop on companies meet employers who believe in gender equality.

Today we talk to Georgene Huang, Fairygodboss’s CEO and co-founder, a leader obsessed with improving the workplace for women. A graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities, Georgene ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures before co-founding her new venture.

Georgene Huang CEO Fairygodboss

Georgene Huang CEO Fairygodboss

RSM— For a large part of your career you worked for large organizations. What prompted you to start Fairygodboss?

Georgene Huang (GH) —Fairygodboss was born from a personal experience I had while job searching and two months pregnant. I was in an executive role, looking for a job and not telling people in my interviews that I was pregnant. I wanted to ask about maternity leave policies, how much face time a company required, how flexible it was in terms of working hours and whether there were women and other mothers in senior management. I felt that asking these questions outright was taboo in 2015 and is still taboo in 2017. It meant risking negative judgments of myself even though I was — and remain — incredibly career oriented.

Fairygodboss is a safe place where women can hear from other women about their job and workplace experiences and ask questions of each other without worrying about judgment. You may get different opinions from women on Fairygodboss but everyone will give it to you straight.

Fairygodboss a marketplace to improve workplaces for women

Fairygodboss a marketplace to improve workplaces for women

How hard is it to find your dream job?

RSM— What makes it challenging if you are a woman to find your dream job?

GH— Women still face an unequal playing field for a number of social and cultural reasons even at the most egalitarian and inclusive of companies. Women in our society tend to bear the brunt of caretaking (whether for children, relatives or parents.) As a result, many women tend to have more to juggle in their lives beyond work and if you find a dream job, it often comes with demands that you are always on, always present and available. This is completely compatible with caretaking if the company allows you to be flexible and has a supportive culture and policies — but it can be hard to figure this out in advance.

A great read on best ways to find a job by Susan Landon.

RSM— How exactly does Fairygodboss help women find their dream jobs?

GH— Everyone’s dream job looks slightly different. Some want the corner office and executive role while for others, a dream job is simply one where their work-life balance, vacations and paid time off are respected, and they are paid and promoted fairly at the same time. We don’t assume any individual woman wants the same thing as another woman, which is why our platform let’s women’s individual voices speak for themselves. Fairygodboss’ role is to let women’s opinions help other women figure out whether a job, department or company is the right employer for them.

Fairygodboss can help you find your dream job

Fairygodboss can help you find your dream job

RSM— What are some of the most candid insights women share about their workplaces on your site that they don’t on others?

GH— A small group of women bravely discuss sensitive and personal topics such as sexual harassment experiences or learning about being paid unequally to men doing similar work (or even that report to them.) Some of them will share what their manager or HR did in response to complaints about these things. Thankfully this is a minority of women in our community. Most seem to hold and share balanced views about things their employers are getting right and areas where they could improve. A lot of women also tend to weigh in their salaries, work-life balance, flexibility, the promotion track for women and whether there is a good maternity leave policy. We’ve created crowd-sourced databases around each of these topics as a result.

RSM— Your website offers inside scoops on pay, benefits and culture. Is all this information posted by individual users or do you gather independent info as well?

GH— Almost all of the information on our site about pay, benefits and culture comes from female employees’ mouths, directly. The only places that are an exception to this are official company profiles (labeled clearly as such) where employers that Fairygodboss partners with elect to share that information from their point of view.

RSM— As a woman, what should you look at when evaluating an organization where you might find your dream job?

GH— You should do all your homework. Use Fairygodboss to read what other women say, and to connect with women who work at a company (you can message women anonymously in our community if you sign up and leave a job review yourself.) However, don’t just stop there if you’re seriously trying to find your dream job. Talk to people in your personal network, ask them to introduce you to others who’ve worked there and read everything you can about the company even from an editorial, news or social media perspective. Try to see if what you hear and read is relatively consistent across different sources to get at the truth of what it’s like to work somewhere.

Georgene Huang CEO & co-founder Fairygodboss

Georgene Huang CEO & co-founder Fairygodboss

RSM— Do you see real efforts being made by organizations towards attracting and retaining more women? What are some of those efforts you’ve seen?

GH— Yes, absolutely. Our mission at Fairygodboss is to improve the workplace for women. We do this by creating transparency and highlighting best practices at employers, so obviously we have learned about some amazing programs employers are using to attract and retain women. Women share openly with us what they think works and employers tend to ask us what other employers do, as well.

We’ve heard that mentorship and sponsorship programs are incredibly important to individual women. Women care a lot about the ability to have and take maternity leave — and think its important their companies also offer gender neutral benefits so that the probability of taking a full, extended parental leave is not stigmatizing. Flexibility and flexible working policies that are official (as opposed to case-by-case depending on your manager) are also viewed as very important by women who have care-taking responsibilities or strong outside work interests. Any employer who has been brave enough to tackle the issue of equal pay and correcting any discrepancies in this area (e.g. Salesforce and their pay gap audit) are also seen to be taking real action to improve gender quality.

Great piece on how to prepare for a job interview by Lily Benjamin
Fairygodboss a a place to find your dream job

Fairygodboss a a place to find your dream job

RSM— Your site is a job board as well. Do companies review resumes submitted on line? Any suggestions on how to use the job board to maximize the potential to find your dream job?

GH— Yes we list jobs from companies who are our partners — by definition, they are companies that are committed to transparency and gender equality. Our partners connect their job listings to our site and every company’s application process is unique, but in general requires a resume to be submitted to them. You can always send an email to us at info@fairygodboss.com if you don’t see a job opportunity that you’re interested in but want us to keep an eye out for you. Next year, we’ll be starting to match candidates and employers based on profiles that users may create with us, so keep an eye out for that!

You can connect with Fairygodboss on social media:
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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!