Congrats; you earned a promotion into management. Whether it’s a longtime goal or an unexpected opportunity, managing others requires shifting your mindset and demonstrating different and potentially new skills, says Lisa Gruenloh, an organizational development consultant and president of Naplesbased Purpose Journey.
Those skills will be immediately put to the test, as you work through relationship dynamics with people who were once your peers and other managers who may not be accustomed to seeing you in an authority role. Being an effective and influential manager requires being direct, honest, timely and caring while having strong technical skills, knowledge and performance in your subject area, she says.
Here are ways to handle five scenarios that could be stumbling blocks for new managers.
If someone applied for your promotion too...
A co-worker who wanted the same promotion may be jealous and question your competence.
How to handle it: Have an individual, face-to-face conversation with him or her to smooth over hurt feelings. Gruenloh suggests saying, “I really want to include you as part of this team, because you have a lot of great ideas. I really want to work with you.”
If you're managing your BFF or drinking buddy...
You can’t be buddies in the same way, for a couple of reasons. You want to avoid giving subordinates the perception that you have favorites. Also, existing company guidelines about employee-boss relationships may change the nature of your personal relationships.
How to handle it: Have one-on-one conversations to talk through the nuances of the friendship. You may not be able to text as often or may need to limit time outside of the office together. Let your friend know you will do your best to navigate the relationship and continue to build his or her success at work, she says. Your attitude shouldn’t be that you’ve arrived and are on a new level, but that you’re now in a position to help make your peers more successful. “What happens when you do that, in most cases, is you build tons of trust and respect, because they know from the beginning that you care about their feelings.”
If you want to make big changes...
You likely outlined your plans for change when you interviewed for the position, but resist jumping in and making major immediate changes.
How to handle it: Give your employees the chance to bring up concerns or issues, which will show them you want to create a safe, trusting environment. Tell employees that you want to work together to find solutions, especially if you once vented to the same co-workers about work stress or strife. Relationships drive every single measure of individual, team and organizational success, she says.
If you inherit employees or an entire team that's a disaster...
You may know employees who consistently arrive late or leave early, or have been annoyed by workers who are not diligent or thorough with their tasks. If employees previously were not held accountable for meeting performance expectations and professional behavior, then you can be in a difficult position as the new manager.
How to handle it: “The time to address that is right up front,” she says. Help team members understand that you’re there to support them and want to provide resources and ways for them to improve. Have regular conversations with team members about what is and isn’t working well. Then praise them when they meet goals and expectations.
If you now are on the same level as former bosses...
You may have a seat at the table and be part of discussions that you were not privy to in your former role.
How to handle it: Be confident, but humble, she says. Reach out to a manager you respect and ask him or her to mentor you. You’ll have a coach to help you avoid missteps in managing, and it’s a great way to show your new peers that you’re part of the team. “You’re not coming in as a know-it-all. You respect the fact that they’ve been there,” she says.