Moving into Management

Congratulations -- you've worked long and hard and have been promoted into a management position. Now what?

Moving from a co-worker to a manager position is one of the most challenging workplace transitions. Suddenly you’re in a position where you are overseeing your former colleagues and have an expanded job description with new objectives and deliverables. Additionally, not only are you responsible for delivering on your own goals, you are now also accountable for the results and deliverables of an entire team. This shift can be daunting, especially for someone who has never been a Manager before and isn’t even sure how to start in their new role.

Here are a few tips to help you successfully transition into a Management role.

1.  Determine what type of Manager you want to be.

Before you step into your new role, give some thought as to the type of Manager you want to be. In your career, you’ve probably worked with a mix of great and not so great managers and role models and there is a lot you can learn, both positive and negative, from these experiences to help you define what kind of leader you wish to be.

Think back to the Managers with whom you’ve really enjoyed working, who made you feel valued, important and engaged, and who motivated you to perform well and grow in your role. On the flip side, think about those Managers who did not inspire you, who may not have been fair or honest leaders, or who did not drive you to be your best. List the traits of the Managers who you wish to emulate in your new role. Once you’ve defined the type of Manager you want to be, aim to live up to this definition every day.

2.  Redefine your prior working relationships and set the tone.

You are no longer chit-chatting around the water cooler about what you did on the weekend, or sharing your grievances with co-workers about your latest project. You are now the person who is assigning projects and overseeing the performance and productivity of your former colleagues. It can be very difficult to go from being friends with to being the manager of your colleagues and even more challenging to start overseeing the work of someone who you may not have seen eye-to-eye with as peers.

It is important to set the tone for your team and redefine your role. You don’t want to dive in with a heavy hand on day one, but it is important to acknowledge the change in your role and relationships. Have a one-on-one meeting with each employee on your team and get to know them professionally. Share with them the type of Manager you are aiming to be, set expectations for ways of working with each other, help them to understand your new responsibilities and deliverables, and seek clarity on their current goals and objectives. If you have any past issues with a former colleague - now is the time to address these issues, set a clean slate and move forward in a positive direction. And, for your former workplace best friend, try to set new expectations so they understand that while you value the friendship, you want to be a fair and honest leader and cannot be perceived as having favourites. Participate in team lunches or events, but regular lunches or happy hour get-togethers with your work buddies may need to be a thing of the past, at least until you establish strong relationships with your entire team.

3.  Seek Guidance and Knowledge

Partner with your HR team and Manager to take full advantage of any internal leadership training your company has available. You also want to understand all company policies and your role in upholding those policies.

You should seek to learn more about each of the people you will be managing. If available, review prior performance appraisals, gather information on any performance concerns or current discipline matters, ensure you understand each employee’s job description, and review résumés so you have an overview of the full suite of skills offered by your team. Your focus is no longer on pushing yourself to be the best at your job – instead, you need to be promoting and encouraging your entire team to be the best at their jobs. The more you know about your team, the better positioned you will be to oversee, guide and help them succeed both individually and corporately.

4.  Select a Mentor

Work with your Manager or your HR team to identify someone who can be your mentor. Ideally, this is someone who has successfully made the transition from a co-worker to a Manager in the past few years. Alternatively, it could be someone with a reputation for being an excellent Manager (from the perspective of both Senior Management and Employees).

When asking someone to be your mentor, you need to define what that means to you. Ask them to share tips on how they successfully manage their team. Seek advice and guidance from them on challenging situations, and be open to having them observe you and provide honest feedback on how you can improve.

5.  Be a Role Model

As a manager, you will be watched and people will take note of your actions. Model the behaviour that you expect. Don’t stroll into the office 10 minutes late every day. Be on-time and prepared for meetings and engage with each member of your team every day. Meet all your deadlines, deliver on all commitments and promises, and live up to your word. Communicate openly and honestly with your team and be fair and truthful.

Developing a rapport and building trust with your team takes time and effort. It will not happen overnight. If you focus on these few tips and strive to be fair, honest and consistent, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful Manager and Leader.


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