We get promoted to a manager for two reasons. One is we were an outstanding individual contributor, and someone (or us!) thinks we’d be a great manager, or we’ve been at an organization for a long time, have a depth of experience and get promoted.
Either way, we move into management. And once we were a peer, now we’re a boss.
When I think of lessons learned, and the pitfalls that can befall a new manager, consider how to EMBRACE your role with focus and clarity.
· Empathy: Whether we realize it or not, our relationships shift emotionally when you move to a supervisory role. By definition, there is now a power imbalance, with you having more power, your co-worker having less. No longer are you commiserating about the company or your manager or others. You have a duty to achieve the goals. For your former friends, this will be a little awkward and intimidating. Understand that. You can be transparent about this change, and talk to your team about it. This shows both courage and builds trust.
· Mutual purpose: A team becomes knitted together when they have a united mission, a common goal. Help create this sense of purpose, and collective team spirit to help those on the team, especially with who you formerly may not have been as close to. Your role is to ensure everyone feels a part of the team, that there isn’t an in and out group.
· Boundaries: Understand what you can and cannot share with your employees. You will now have access to both more and different information on the organization, some being more sensitive and confidential. Treat information with care. That we need to protect what someone has shared; that we don’t share inappropriately. This goes for individuals and also our relationship with our organization.
· Responsibilities: Yours and there’s must be clear. Make sure you know your 3 most significant goals for you and for your team. Know what is expected of you from your manager and organization. Responsibilities gives you focus and direction. It is the platform in which you will coach others to succeed.
· Accountability: You are responsible for getting work done through others. Set clear expectations, provide autonomy with support, and then foster accountability for results. And the first time someone let’s you down, or doesn’t’ follow through, or complete an assignment, or demonstrates poor quality (or behaviors) it’s on you to provide guidance and feedback. And this will likely be awkward. For you, for them. This is something you must tackle, and it can be done in a way that is respectful and supportive.
· Communication: Communication, being clear and candid, will be a significant help as a new leader. This means being clear on roles, goals, expectations, progress and results. It means cascading important information to everyone on the team, asking questions to clarify understanding. You are part of the communication system, and how you operate affects the engagement and motivation of your team. Create two way channels so your team can ask questions about organizational strategies, plans, goals, and imperatives.
· Evaluate/Expand: Evaluate your network. As a new leader, this is a time to not only strengthen the bonds with your team, but with your professional network as well. That means inside and outside the organization. Don’t go it alone, find new outlets for your professional and personal well-being.
Don’t use hope as a strategy. Be intentional in your new role. Create credibility and a positive experience for those around you, those you are now responsible to lead. It’s a huge commitment, and a rewarding one as well.