How To Shift Your Mindset From Individual Contributor to Manager

Alternative Titles:

Shifting Your Mindset: Employee to Manager Employee to Manager: Shifting Your Mindset

I first learned how to drive with the help of my father. I was seven years old and sitting on his lap. He'd do the shifting and the gas and the break and, I just did the steering. We were doing this on a dirt road, going to the beach.

After a while, he allowed me to shift gears too.

And then the pedal.

Gradually forming our relationship and checking my moves, my dad figured out this great entertaining way to build trust with his sibling and also teach him not only how to drive, but what ownership really means.

And one day he puts me in the front seat and asks me to take him to the beach. I haven't done the whole thing before, but I was excited to do it! And I took him there, and he did not critique much, and he just let it happen. This is all happening over time. He is still managing, he is still there, he can put his hand on the steering wheel or his foot over the brake, but at the same time, he was letting me make micro-mistakes.

You might be used to getting things done all by yourself. And this is why it can suddenly feel weird trusting someone else to do it. How can you shift this mindset? How can you stop being a simple contributor to being a manager?

If you are doing what you are currently doing, having asked the above questions, you are already failing as a manager, as a leader. If you are an individual who cannot stop getting in someone else's hair and not let people be self-sufficient and let them lead their own path, you are failing as a leader. And if the leader is failing, the team might be on the road to failure as well.

The more time you spend in the tranches, trying to fix each individual problem by yourself, the less time you have to think about the strategy and future operations.

Sure, on a macro-level, trust comes in by visiting the tranches from time to time, sure. But you do not have to give 100% trust to someone out of the gate.

And I am going to provide an overly simplified example here. If you just became a manager, and you need to hire someone, and then you need to give that someone some tasks, that does not mean that you should simply walk away. You don't even know the person. And this is where leading by example comes in, with you on the wheel showing how it is done, setting up the stepping stones. Then you can watch your employee perform the same task. Once you figure out that he/she is doing with ease, you are going to come and check-in in 3 hours. The next day you do the check-in every 4 hours. The next day you shift, and you do one check-in in the morning and one in the afternoon. And the next day, you will do the check-in only once. A few days later and you get to a point where you check your employee just every other day. And pretty soon you are good to go. This is how you build trust.

The way to shift your mindset is to recognize that micromanagement is failure. The longer you micromanage someone, the longer it takes them to develop as a human being and a useful person in your organization. Every minute you are doing that is a minute of them not thinking for themselves.

If you are micromanaging their task, then they are not taking ownership. And you can't hold ownership of every single task.

Let people take the wheel. Let people learn and lead.