The majority of recruitment businesses are run on a meritocratic basis. The top billers are rewarded with teams that support their resourcing needs and enable them to develop new markets.

The problem with this system is that the skills needed to be a top biller are quite different from those needed to manage a team. Once you transition to the role of team leader, you’re unable to be laser-focused on your desk and selfish with your time.

How do you juggle these opposing sides of the job?

Your biggest challenge

These growing pains are all part of the transition process new leaders face as they settle into the next stage of their careers. We’ve looked at the necessary skills leaders develop as they transition from team members to team leads before. Today, we look at another challenge you’re likely to face.

Let’s set the scene…

You’ve been a top biller in your team for a while now. You walk into your monthly review meeting and your manager gives you the news that, due to your consistently great performance, you’ve been promoted to team leader. Congratulations!

What does this promotion mean in practice? Within the space of a minute, you’ve gone from being one of the team to someone in management. While you’re excited to be climbing the business ladder and making it to the next step, you’re worried that your new role will change how you’re seen by the team you’re now leading.

How do you deal with this shift and manage these changing relationships?

Practice your leadership skills

Your stellar track record as a top biller was built on your ability to remain consistent in your performance. That’s the same energy you need to take into this new manager role.

You can’t walk out of that meeting room with your chest pumped out and start barking orders at the people around you. No one’s going to respect that kind of leader. Effective leadership means acting like a leader even before you have the privilege of being one. If those around you already see you as a leadership figure in the way you engage with them, the transition to being a manager is that much easier.

A lot of people, both in sports and in business, look at their next goal and focus on the things they’ll do once they’ve reached them.

A good example would be an athlete who’s very talented but doesn’t look after their body in terms of nutrition and proper training. They’ll say things like: “It’s fine, when I turn pro I’ll change my diet and focus on my health more.” The problem with this kind of thinking is that by the time the athlete reaches that pro stage, it’s too late to be making those kinds of changes. Those very things the athlete knew they had to change might end up being the reason their manager decides to sign a contract with someone else.

Get the full picture with the Team Head Coach Playbook eBook. Download it here.

What does it mean to be a leader?

Being a respected and successful leader in the recruitment space means understanding that you’re just as much a part of the team as you are the one managing it. These are key elements to succeeding as a team leader:

  • Be the hardest worker in the room.

  • Keep your focus on the right things.

  • Emphasise consistency in everything you do.

  • Be respectful of the people you work with.

  • Take your new role and the challenges you face seriously.

Stay focused on your performance

It’s fair to assume that you won’t be respected by your team if you’re not also performing at your job. Showing up late and having consistent bad billing months makes it difficult to justify your role as team leader.

That’s not the reputation you want to have when moving into your new role. How can you sit a performance review and ask your team member why their performance has dipped if yours is equally as bad?

As important as it is to develop your leadership skills, it’s crucial to stay focused on your performance in your job.

Respect comes first

This new team dynamic will be just as awkward for your team as it is for you. Don’t shy away from that reality. You’re more likely to win your team’s respect if you’re upfront about your feelings and have an honest conversation about their experience.

By opening the lines of communication in this way, you show your team that you’re also learning and need their support in the process. They’ll be more likely to work with you, and you’ll face less tension and hostility in the process.

It’s also important for your team to know that you’re there to help them. Creating a team dynamic where mutual respect and communication is encouraged is key.

The bottom line

So, what’s the takeaway from all this?

Transitioning from one of the team to a team leader is always going to be a challenge. But there are ways to overcome the worst of it:

  • Personify key leadership skills in your daily interactions.

  • Forcing the situation on your team doesn’t work.

  • Honest conversations are your friend.

Effective leadership coaching is more than worth it as you embark on this exciting career journey. Give yourself the tools you need to make a success of your new role by downloading your exclusive Team Head Coach Playbook eGuide here, or find out about upcoming workshops here.

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