After seven years at my company, working my way up in positions, I was finally given the opportunity to manage a team. While I had always taken leadership roles at work, leading internal work groups and coaching people, I had never directly managed anyone. My first six months as a manger was an eye-opening experience to say the least. Here are few things I wish I had known about managing when I first started:
You will never know everything
As a manger, your team expects you to be a resource and a one-stop shop for information that they need to be successful. This is impossible for one person to do. The sheer number of calls and meetings you attend may be overwhelming and prevent you from doing the necessary coaching and support your team really needs. Once you learn that you cannot possibly be everywhere, your next step is to know your resources. Determine who else can you refer your team to. Once you know that, you can delegate more and focus on strategies and growth.
Learn to let go
When transitioning into a management role, especially as an internal hire, it is not unusual to have a transition time between your old role and the new one. It can be surprisingly easy to hold on to things that you used to do, but this can prevent you from successfully leading your team, doing your job, and hinder the development of the staff member taking over your position. Make sure you have a transition plan in place and stick to it. Avoid the phrase “I can just do that.” Once you have transitioned it is no longer your direct responsibility, instead be a resource. In the words of Disney’s “Frozen”—“Let it Go.”
Nothing will prepare you for hard conversations
Whether it is performance issues or having to make layoffs, no amount of seminars, articles, trainings or books can prepare you for these tough conversations. When transitioning into a new managerial role, these conversations can be especially more difficult because you may have worked with these individuals before being their manager. However difficult this may be, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your supervisor or your HR department. There is no shame in not knowing how to have these conversations the first time, or even the second. Even natural leaders often need guidance when having to take disciplinary action. This will not only help you learn but it can also protect you and your company from liability.
Cidne Christiansen is the Sr. Market Manager, Community Engagement at the American Cancer Society.