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Developing Self-Awareness as a New Manager: Understanding Your Work Style and Values



Congratulations! You've just been promoted to a management role. As you embark on this new journey, it's essential to develop self-awareness in the workplace. Self-awareness is the ability to understand your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and how they impact your work and relationships with others.


Today we will explore two exercises that can help first-time managers like you develop self-awareness, identify your work style, articulate your values, and communicate them to your colleagues and direct reports.


Exercise 1: Identify Your Work Style


The first exercise is to identify your work style. Are you more introverted or extroverted? Are you more task-oriented or people-oriented? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you do your best work in collaboration with others or by yourself?

  • Do you tend to place more value on doing things quickly and efficiently or on bringing people along in the process and generating consensus for the path forward?

Where you fall on these spectrums will determine which of four work styles you fall into: the analyzer, the director, the collaborator, or the promoter.

  • The analyzer is detail-oriented, logical, and analytical. They prefer to work independently and focus on accuracy and precision.

  • The director is assertive, results-driven, and action-oriented. They prefer to work with a clear plan and focus on achieving goals.

  • The collaborator is empathetic, supportive, and team-oriented. They prefer to work with others and focus on building relationships and consensus.

  • The promoter is outgoing, enthusiastic, and idea-driven. They prefer to work independently and focus on innovation and creativity.

Understanding your work style will help you communicate your strengths and weaknesses to your team, delegate tasks effectively, and create a productive work environment.


Exercise 2: Articulate Your Values


The second exercise is to articulate your values. Imagine yourself late in life, reflecting on your career. In the end, what was most important to you? Write down 10 values that represent your ideal of that fulfilled life. Narrow the list down to five values, then three.


For example, your top values might include:

  • Excellence

  • Integrity

  • Innovation

  • Collaboration

  • Empathy

Next, write down activities that embody each value. For instance, if your value is excellence, an activity might be that you never deliver a project unless it's nearly perfect.


Expanding on Determining Your Work Style


While the source text provides an excellent start, here are some additional tips for new managers on assessing their work styles:

  • Take Assessments: Standardized assessments like Myers-Briggs, DISC, or StrengthsFinder can provide further insight into your tendencies. While not definitive, they are a helpful data point.

  • Ask Others: It can be illuminating to ask mentors, colleagues, friends, and family how they would describe your work style. Look for any themes or consistent feedback.

  • Observe Your Energy Levels: Note when your energy levels spike (e.g. solitary analysis work versus collaborative meetings). This can clarify where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

  • Track Your Time: Use a tool like RescueTime to analyze how you spend your time. This can reveal your true priorities and where you get in flow.

  • Reflect on Past Feedback: Reviewing past performance reviews or 360 feedback assessments can reveal strengths, gaps, and preferences you can build upon.

  • Consider Different Contexts: Your style may flex across different contexts. Note if any adjustments are needed on your team versus cross-functional meetings.


Sharing Your Work Style and Values with Colleagues and Direct Reports


Now that you've identified your work style and articulated your values, it's essential to share this information with your colleagues and direct reports. This will help them understand what motivates you and how best to work with you. Some best practices include:

  • Create a "Working with Me" Document: As suggested in the source, outline your work style, communication preferences, pet peeves, and management approach. Update it as you receive feedback.

  • Discuss in 1:1s: Dedicate time in 1:1 meetings with each report to discuss how you can best work together. Invite their feedback.

  • Model Desired Behaviors: Actions speak louder than words. Consciously model behaviors you want your team to embody.

  • Adapt Your Style: Be willing to flex your style at times to meet the needs of different employees. Doing so can build trust.

  • Ask for Feedback: Routinely ask reports if your style is working for them. Incorporate their suggestions into your approach when reasonable.

Be open to receiving feedback from your team on the unconscious biases your values will inevitably create. This will help you identify areas where you can improve and work more effectively with your team.


Conclusion


Developing self-awareness is a critical step in becoming an effective manager. By understanding your work style and values, you'll be better equipped to communicate your strengths and weaknesses, delegate tasks effectively, and create a productive work environment. Remember to share this information with your colleagues and direct reports and be open to receiving feedback. With time and practice, you'll become a self-aware manager who is able to lead your team to success while staying true to your values.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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