It is the first Monday morning of your new career, you remember how last Friday, before your weekend of excited celebration, you were respected as the best technician in the company, at the top of the tree, the go-to person that could answer every question ever asked of you. Today, you have moved into a realm that is alien and fantastic, full of new ideas, potential and responsibility.
Remember the questions that you could always answer in the past, everything that was ever asked of you; you are now being asked different types of question, outside your experience and of course you think that everyone expects you to know the answer, immediately, because you are the manager!
Aren’t titles great!
The main emotion experienced on your first day as a manager is undoubtedly fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing former friends, fear of looking foolish, fear of failure; it is essential that you handle this fear effectively and overcome the threshold so that you enable yourself to excel, after all, you were promoted for a good reason, you just might not know what it is yet.
You may think that you have to know everything, you may think that your new team expect you to know everything, you may not think that you know everything you need to know; the good news is you only have to know those things that are asked of you, and in most cases you will have plenty of time to develop your management and leadership skills without anyone ever asking you anything that you are completely unable to answer.
You can ask for help with difficult situations from your boss, coach or mentor, they will understand that you are not the perfectly formed leader that you think you should be. The very fact that you ask, will start you on the way to building your new skills and will demonstrate to everyone around you that you have awareness of your own inexperience.
As the new manager, everyone will respect you because you have a lovely new title, your own office, a company car, phone, laptop, you wear a suit, not overalls and you eat lunch with the Directors. I suspect that you already realise this is simply not true; in order to gain respect from your team, your colleagues and your boss you will have to demonstrate that you deserve it.
Be clear about your values, what makes you who you are, and ensure that you apply these values to every decision you make and every interaction you have with your workforce, so that they know what they can expect from you in any situation.
Be consistent in applying the values – if people know what to expect and then get that result you will be operating congruently and by not surprising anyone the amount of respect you command will grow and grow.
As a manager, you have a lot of authority, and to make your new career a great success it is essential that you know you also have taken on the similar amount of responsibility. This is not only responsibility for yourself, but for the actions, behaviour and performance of others; this is the main difference between your previous position and your current one: other people.
The friends you made when you were a technician will be looking to you through different eyes and you will have to adapt to this new perception quickly and deal with your new role in a manner that is new to you, because the eyes through which you view your team are different to those you used to use.
Identify the new priorities that you have as a manager and leader and how they are different from those you used to hold when you were a technician.
In the past, you have always been able to get commitment from your co-workers by simply posing a question, “Shall we play football after work?” or “Do you fancy a pint” and you usually got a positive, affirmative answer. Things may be a little different now. You may find that some of your staff have to be guided toward what you want them to do, drawn with encouraging words, others may need very clear concise instructions, others the merest hint. If you use the wrong mode of speech with the inappropriate member of staff you will find that “They just don’t listen” and you end up with confusion, inefficiency and chaos, which is all your fault!
What ever happens is your responsibility, who ever is to blame for a situation it is your situation, if there is a problem from any source, it is your problem, everything is your fault.
This may sound a bit harsh, but it is ultimately true and the reason it is kept as a secret is that many (poor) leaders do not accept it as a truth. So remember to be proactive, hold on to every situation and accept ownership and the accolades that come with success.