Just Promoted to Manager? Now What?

Stepping into a management role for the first time can be a challenge. Especially when you are moving up from within an organization. Just last week you were working as someone’s peer or subordinate and now you are expected to walk into the office and be effective as the boss.

As you begin your new role you will do your best to maintain existing relationships and be a good manager. You have a comprehensive understanding of the work that needs to be done and you know who your A, B, and C players are. Because you have worked with this team for many years and been successful, you were promoted. You deserve this promotion and you are planning to work hard to earn the respect of your new boss, peers, and subordinates. However, working hard might not be enough!

When you step into a new role you bring a variety of skills and competencies with you. You are organized, passionate, consistent, and intelligent. You possess the knowledge and skills to succeed and you get things done. This means that you have the skills to succeed in this role provided you can figure out this management stuff. Right?

Unfortunately managing people is like walking through a minefield. You and your former peers have a history. You know each other as friends and you’ve exchanged information that isn’t typically shared between manager and subordinate.  One of these days they might use that information to undermine your authority or knock you down a peg.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make your transition efficient and effective.  If you start off right you can keep then train moving in a positive direction.

  1. Assess Your Team - There are a number of ways you can assess your team. You can assess each individual’s performance and potential using a tool like the 9 box grid. You can use the Myers Briggs or DISC to learn about people’s personalities. Or you could use a tool like the strenghtsfinder to get a sense of what strengths people possess. All of these are useful to you and the team and would work well as a structured team building activity. I would recommend that you hire an experienced facilitator to administer the tools and organize a workshop to help people learn how to best use the information gleaned from the assessments.
  2. Go Slow - Do not be a bull in a china shop! Many new managers walk into a new role with excitement, hopes, dreams, and a stubborn sense of what needs to be fixed in the organization. If you are moving up from within the organization you inevitably have opinions about what works and what doesn’t. You are also well aware of the personalities, politics, bullshit, and inefficiencies. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT jump in and start making dramatic changes. This strategy fails more often than not and minor missteps can have dramatic impacts.
  3. Establish a Meeting Schedule - Put communication on the top of your agenda. One-on-one meetings with each of your subordinates and all staff meetings should be regular occurrences. I would recommend weekly one-on-one meetings and bi-weekly staff meetings. Check out the manager tools podcast for details on how to run these meetings. They prove an excellent overview of why these meetings are important and how to run them. The key is to establish a consistent mechanism for communication. After all, you want to be a great manager who communicates well with your team.
  4. Give Only Positive Feedback - For the first 60 days you should try your best to give only positive feedback. Don’t pull an employee aside and tell them they are doing a crappy job too quickly. Set expectations for performance and use the carrot instead of the stick. By finding reasons to give praise and pats on the back you will create an environment where your team appreciates your presence and trusts that you have their best interests in mind.
  5. Share Expectations - Just because you are holding back on the negative (or constructive) feedback doesn’t mean you can’t set expectations and establish high standards for performance. When assigning work, be clear, concise and consistent. Tell people what you want, why you want it, and when you want it. If someone doesn’t deliver don’t read them the riot act. Simply restate your expectation and give them another chance.

So there you have it. Five steps you can take when assuming a new management role.

Question:  What other actions might help people who are promoted to management?