How to go from advisor to manager

Jamie Biesiada

If you’re a travel advisor given a chance to move into a management role at your agency, how can you successfully make that transition?

Communicate well, consider a course in leadership and don’t let issues simmer. That advice comes from Stephanie Lee, founder of Host Agency Reviews, who tackled the question on a recent episode of the Trade Secrets podcast.

Michelle Henrich, a Montecito Village Travel affiliate, said she was looking for advice as she transitions from being a travel advisor to being the office manager. 

“I’m struggling to find a balance between being a friend while creating and maintaining a leadership role,” Henrich said.

Lee acknowledged that a transition to a leadership role can be difficult and, at times, awkward.

When she first moved into a management role, Lee said, the office where she was working at the time didn’t have a handbook in place with written policies on things like taking time off.

“I don’t know what your situation is, Michelle, but the first thing that I would do is build out this infrastructure so that you can have success in place,” Lee said. “Because if things aren’t communicated clearly to your office team, it’s just going to be really difficult for you to manage them when there’s no expectations and there’s nothing in writing.”

That handbook could include a number of things, including expectations for fam trips, how reimbursements work and the agency’s booking process.

A particular set of skills

Managing people carries its own skill set, Lee said. It’s something she herself has worked on over the years, and she suggested taking a management course. Lee took leadership training with Disney, for example, and found it very helpful.

It’s also important for managers to have peers in other management roles to talk to.

“It’s not great for you to be talking to your old fellow frontline people about the issues you’re having with other people, so you need to have these other outlets,” Lee said.

Finally, Lee said, issues should always be discussed right away.

“Discuss issues right away so that there’s clear expectations,” she said. “It’ll just grow. It doesn’t get better usually.”

For more advice from Lee on everything from getting started as an advisor to what technologies advisors should be excited about, give the episode a listen.

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