Congratulations! You’ve been promoted. Now what?
In your previous role you were a rockstar. They saw something in you and you’ve been asked to lead the next generation of leaders.
As a new manager you will make mistakes and face new challenges, no doubt about it. However, a little preparation can help you through these common, new challenges.
1. It’s Lonely At The Top
You used to hang out with everyone after work, at the pub or at the weekend BBQ, but now the phone no longer rings. This can be shocking and depressing for new managers, especially if your team used to be your coworkers. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you. They just need time to blow off steam after work and they’d prefer not to do it with their boss. They might also be afraid of saying the wrong thing after a few pints and have it affect their career.
Instead find new peers to hang out with. You’ll want to find fellow managers or others in your line of work or industry leaders. These can be great new relationships, as they can mentor you to become an effective manager.
2. No More Gossip
Be honest, you enjoyed those times of bad-mouthing the company, coworkers or management. Well, no more. You are now the ambassador of the company and its mission. You cannot afford to partake in those gripe sessions any longer. You will lose your teams respect and create an atmosphere of complainers. You need to speak positivity into your teams life and work environment. They need to have a belief that the leaders of the company have things figured out and will fix any issues that cause these gripes. If you participate, you identify yourself as not being part of the solution.
This does not mean that if one of your team members begins to complain, you walk away. This means that you listen and don’t join in. They need to feel they are heard and that you have a solution, or at least understand their issue and frustration. If you do come up short on identifying a solution, ask them to provide one. They may have some great ideas.
3. Gaining Respect
In order to lead effectively, you need your team’s respect. Whether you are inheriting a new team or managing your previous peers, each has it’s own challenges. This is a much bigger topic, but there are a few quick ways to gain respect as a new leader.
First, never get too attached to your title. Just because you are a manager doesn’t mean you don’t need to roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches with your team.
Second, be open and honest. Your team can tell when you’re holding back or not being truthful. You’re not that good of an actor. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up. Tell them you’ll work with them to find the answer. If you made a bad decision, fess up. Own your mistakes and learn from them.
Finally, be decisive. You may come to a fork in the road where a decision needs to be made to go left or right. New leaders often freeze if they don’t know which way to go or don’t have all the information. Be decisive and pick a path – go with your gut. If it turns out to be wrong, own it and double back and take the right path.
This is probably the most common challenge and even comes up from time to time for long-time managers. Previously, your KPIs were completely under your control. But now your KPIs are often centered around your report’s success. And their success hinges on your success as a manager. This can be scary and overwhelming. Now, not only do your failures hurt you, they hurt your team.
When you have a team that is motivated and self-starting, this can be an easy transition. But if they need that extra push or special direction, this can be downright terrifying. Just remember, you used to be in their position. You know what you needed from your manager. Start there.
As you get more comfortable you can learn their strengths and learning style to help you lead them better.
Finally, the biggest remedy for any of the challenges you will face is to constantly be learning. Find a mentor. Read books. Watch training videos. But most importantly, never assume you’ve got it all figured out.