A young woman shared these words with me one week after being promoted to her first management position. I could see the look of controlled fear in her eyes, along with a fragile confidence. It’s a big step to move from supervisor to manager. The reality waits to sink in until after the initial joy, pride, and congratulations have had their due.
Perhaps the “gulp” is inevitable—but there are a few things aspiring and new managers can do to manage the move up.
1. Practice Before the Promotion
Savvy people identify their next position long before it is available. Like chess, it is important to think a few steps ahead. Where could my current position lead? What are the strategic plans of the company? Where will expansion likely happen? What skills do I need to be seriously considered for the next role I want?
Once the next role is identified, it’s time to act and behave as if you already have that role.
I received a great piece of corporate-world advice when I was in my 20s: If you want to be a vice president, think, act, and dress like a vice president. Act the future part, look the part, build the skills, take some risks, flex your thinking muscles. See how much you can lift.
2. Pause, Think, React
New managers can feel overwhelmed by the issues facing them and new expectations placed on them. A common mistake is to take action before thinking. New managers may fear what others will think, that their authority will be questioned, or that they may appear tentative or weak. It takes self control and maturity to pause and gather enough data to make informed, unemotional decisions. New managers who gather the facts, listen to others’ points of view, etc., before taking action will in the long run be considered wiser leaders. Expeditious and measured is better than quick and sloppy when it comes to ticklish issues. Who wants to follow—or promote—a leader who reacts prematurely with limited information? Strive to be wise.
3. Find Help
Along with the fancy new title and office come more complicated issues and projects. Smart new managers admit the need for help, guidance, mentoring, and information. Mentors can be found inside and outside the organization. Identify others who have been successful and tell them honestly what you don’t know or aren’t sure about, or if you are unclear of the corporate politics involved. Creating a network of respected and trusted people you can confide in will help you confidently step into your new management role.
Deep breath, new manager. You can do this!
About the author:
Cathy Huett is Director, Professional Services at The Ken Blanchard Companies. This is the first in a series of posts specifically geared toward new and emerging leaders that will appear on the second Saturday of each month.