Transitioning into a Leadership Role: On-the-Job Success Strategies for Newly Promoted Managers

Published: May 29, 2008

HCareers -- You've worked hard, kept your nose to the grindstone, and proven yourself to be a team player. You;ve come in early, stayed late, and picked up those double shifts that no one else wanted without complaint. You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and given freely of your strengths and talents time and time again.

Finally, after years of hard work and dedication, all of your efforts have paid off. You’ve just found out that you’ve been promoted to manager. Now what?

Rising to the Challenge

After hearing the good news, that first rush of elation and excitement might be followed by a surge of trepidation. If so, you wouldn’t be the first new manager to be a bit nervous about the prospect of being called up into the big leagues.

But look at it this way: the very same skill and commitment that caught your manager’s eye and landed you this promotion in the first place will also come in handy now as you orient yourself, take stock of the new situation, and prepare to hit the ground running. Here are a few ideas to help you develop a roadmap to success in your new role.

Start off as an observer.

Every employee harbors ideas and pet theories about how they’ll shake things up when they make it to the boardroom. But if you come on too strong early in your new tenure as a manager, you might wind up alienating those around you. Plus, once you have access to the bird’s eye view that a managerial role affords, you might realize that enacting sweeping changes might not be as easy – or as simple – as you once believed. Instead, try to take things slowly, studying your new responsibilities with the respect and careful consideration they deserve.

Take the middle path.

A wise man once counseled “moderation in all things.” Try to keep this maxim in mind as you navigate your new role as manager. Some rookies make the mistake of micromanaging everything down to the smallest detail, while others adopt a distinctly hands-off approach, avoiding all possibility of conflict, controversy, or criticism. According to Carter McNamara, a management consultant who conducts training sessions for newly-promoted managers in Toronto, your best bet is to strike a balance right between these two extremes.

Avoid cliques and factions.

When you’re the new kid on the block, it can be tempting to ingratiate yourself to your new peers. Lending a sympathetic ear as a colleague vents is one thing, but try to steer clear of long-running feuds or deeply-ingrained clashes among the more experienced managerial staff. If pressed to take sides in someone else’s dispute, say in a firm but friendly manner that you’d prefer to stay neutral.

Expand your network.

Your networking skills probably played a big role in helping you land your new promotion. Now that you’re a manager, you can use your networking skills to create a shared bond with your new peers – and to begin to build up your managerial skill set. Reach out to potential mentors who are at a variety of different points in their managerial careers -- and who don’t mind answering lots of questions!

Being a new manager can be nerve-wracking, but don’t be too hard on yourself. With a little advance planning, you’ll be just fine. Good luck!

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