Now That’s a Scary Step

Man jumping over gap

“I’ve been promoted!

 “I’ve been working hard for this for a long time, and now, at last, I have my first real management position. I’ve stepped up into leadership and I’ll be managing people for the first time in my career. It feels amazing and I’m so grateful to know that all my hard work has been recognised by senior management. What a relief!

 “A few of my friends asked me if I really knew what I was letting myself in for, but I dismissed their questions. Of course I know; ‘this is management and of course I’m ready’ I said to them. My boss and his peers know I can do it and that’s enough for me.

“But that was 2 months ago, and I certainly don’t feel the same now. I guess you could say that the honeymoon is over and I’m at an all-time low. My team – and I thought I knew them – all seem to be different towards me. They are expecting me to blow their trumpets for them. They want me to tell all the other managers how good they are and how much they deserve a big pay rise for their hard work. I’m now responsible for 6 projects, not just the one I had last year. I’m finding it hard to keep up with the reporting, the score cards, the dashboards, and the corrective action plans needed to prevent further delays to delivery. And next week is the start of the next budget and salary planning cycle, so I need to be prepared for that too. I know I’m new to this and I know my boss wants me to succeed, so I don’t want to let him down.

 “I know this is creating stress because I’m not sleeping as well as I did before; I wake up in the middle of the night with something about work on my mind. But who can I ask for help? How can I ask for help, if I’m the talented individual with so much expected from me? I just have to keep at it and I know I’ll get it right eventually. I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, but I am going to swim; I’m not going to sink or go back with my tail between my legs and ask for my old job back.”

Is this you? Have you just been promoted? Are you hoping to be promoted soon? Are you still finding your way in your new role? If any of this sounds familiar, I would love to help.

(My next half day workshop, Starting Off In Leadership, is on 2nd February from 9am to 1pm at the Watershed, Bristol)

The thing about management – well 3 things actually – is that it’s not about you anymore; it’s not about you as an individual with a proven track record as a technical professional. It’s now about you as the leader of a team, and you are expected to get results through that team. It’s now up to you to create the right environment for your people to thrive; it’s now up to you to be clear about what you expect from your team, to delegate work to them, and to manage their performance and contribution; and to recognise and reward the work they do.

I mentioned 3 things which are now different.

  1. Think differently: You now need to know what is expected of you as a boss, both from your own boss as well as from your team. And what are you expecting of yourself? What assumptions are you making, perhaps about your technical skills being enough? What do you really need to learn? What kind of relationship do you need with your team members?
  2. Behave differently: As I said, it’s not just about you as an individual. You now get results through the efforts of your team. So they need from you a sense of purpose and a clear vision. As a team, you’ll need some shared values so that you can build the right culture for them to successful. Then you need shared goals, individual goals, and the metrics that go along with them.
  3. Observe differently: You need to know that you, as a leader, are getting it right. So you need to ask how you are doing, and you need to ask the right people. Are you open to feedback; are you ready to change and adapt your style and behaviour? Are you balancing the inputs from both your team and your business?

My next workshop will give you the space to explore these 3 things which make management different from individual technical contribution. You can meet other like-minded professionals too, share experience, and learn from each other in a safe and fun environment.Please join me at The Watershed on 2nd Feb 9am to 1pm, and you can book here from my website events page.