Becoming a new manager was one of the most challenging times in my career. Suddenly I went from individual contributor, responsible only for myself and my work, to manager in charge of a team of friends. Awkward (and tough!).
New managers become responsible for the success of others and oftentimes don’t know what to expect. If this is you, do know when you make this transition, things will not stay exactly the same. There will be changes and shifts in how you and the team operate. And often, these changes requires self-awareness, patience and hard work.
Watch this video lesson below or keep reading.
As a new manager, you must change the way you think and interact with others in the workplace. Here are three shifts that new managers need to make to help become more successful in their role:
1: Responsibility Shift: You’ve done it! Your hard work paid off and you have been rewarded with the opportunity to move up in the company. The work you did so well before your promotion was most likely individual, meaning that you got promoted or hired because you were strong in your day-to-day work and were stellar as a party of one.
But now things are changing and you’ve got other people’s lives and livelihoods in your hands. There is weight to that. As an official representative of the company there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with the job. You are no longer acting in your own best interest, but in the interest of your team. This requires you to shift your mindset from “Me” to “We”.
2: Liability shift: When you’re the new manager things get trickier. The L word gets introduced to your vocabulary... Liable. That means that your behavior implicates you as well as the company when it comes to claims and lawsuits. As a new manager you have to recognize this shift because it may change the way that you interact with your team.
You are now a leader in the company which means that you have to act like one. The things you say or do may be scrutinized or held under a microscope. While it is an added responsibility, take it in stride with a level of professionalism and behave in a way that you will always be proud of.
3: Mental shift: Not only will you have to change the way you act, but also you will have to change the way you think. Management requires maturity. You have to be mentally prepared for all that’s to come. Leading other people takes courage, commitment and probably a lot more time that you had planned!
Your brain will have to stretch new muscles and think in different ways than before. It will take time and discipline to make this kind of shift, but it is important that you make it. You are no longer thinking like an employee, you are thinking like a leader.
NEED HELP MAKING THE SHIFT?
Three tips for making the shift into management a bit smoother:
1. Set up one-on-ones with your team: Nothing (and I mean nothing) is more powerful during a time of change than meeting individually with your team. Take the time to set up 1-on-1 meetings with each direct report to open up the lines of communication. Make sure that you are both on the same page about responsibilities and expectations.
Meeting regularly shows your team you are acknowledging there has been a change and want to make the transition a smooth as possible. Whether you were promoted from within or newly hired into your first management role, this change isn’t just new for you, it’s new for them too! They may be anxious about how things will shift, so having a private space to ask questions or address concerns allows candor and trust to build.
2. Make a list of both personal and team goals: There’s something empowering about the act of writing goals on paper. It takes it from an idea to action. Take some time to consider the question - What do you hope to achieve as a manager and as a team? Be specific. Write out what you ideally want to see happen for both yourself as a new manager and for the team.
Once you have goals, share them with your team and ask for input. What would they like to see change or improve? Is there something important to them that’s missing? What would they personally like to focus on this year? Creating goals allows you and the team to establish some direction for where the group is headed for the year.
3. Ask for feedback: Let’s be honest, constructive criticism isn’t always fun. No one likes to hear that they are not doing something well. But it is so important to be aware of how things are going when you first start a management role.
Be proactive in your own development. Don’t be afraid to check in with those you work with and ask: “How am I doing as a manager?” Have monthly meetings to ask your team and your peers for feedback, both positive and negative. Learning what is going right and wrong will make such an impact as you are growing your leadership skills.
Now, I know this may seem like a lot to remember. You might feel overwhelmed by the additional responsibilities and changes that have to be made, and that’s OK! Be excited that you have been given the chance to prove that you’re a rockstar. It may take more time and effort than you expected to make the shift as a new manager, but with the right attitude, focus, tools and self-awareness you can do it.
I’m rooting for you!