How should I approach my first managerial role?
Many people put so much effort into gaining a promotion that they forget to consider what it takes to be a manager.
Everybody has an opinion on what they think it means to be a good manager, and there are countless books on the subject, but it’s still easy to mystify and confuse what’s involved
If you are a new manager, or are soon to be taking up a managerial position, you may find that getting there has been simpler than staying there.
Feeling out of your depth
Good management is about finding the right answers and solutions to problems, but it’s also about asking questions and giving yourself time.
Unless you are a complete wunderkind, a natural manager, or have a genuine gift, you are going to feel out of your depth or unsure at times
Signs to look out for are an obvious lack of respect for your decisions and opinions from both those above and beneath you. If you are new to management, then you will need to learn your way into your new responsibilities.
Responding to aspects of the job you are already good at is fine, but some of the newer challenges thrown up by management will require some insight and experience, and you need time to gain this.
Seek out those with experience above you for guidance on areas where you have gaps.
Nothing transmits itself faster in a business environment than lack of confidence. If you lack the knowledge or experience to do something, your confidence will evaporate.
It’s better by far to acknowledge, both to yourself and then someone above you, that you need some guidance. You may be a manager, but there are always others who have the knowledge and guidance you can call on. In such a way your confidence can quickly be restored
Change can be good
When you become a manager, you gain control over your own work. Maybe not all of it, but some of it. This means you now have the power to change things, and do things your way. Within reason, you can shape your own work environment.
Obviously in a large organisation you have to work within the existing corporate culture and rules but you are putting yourself in control and possible anticipating and correcting those practices which can cause problems later on.
Despite your good intentions, your idea of change may not be someone else’s so you’ll need to convince and assure others of what you are doing is right. The best way to achieve this is simply to make sure what you are doing or changing really is right, or for the best, that it has its own logic.
Gaining consensual approval for your suggestions for change or improvement gains strong respect and support from those around you.
A manager has to take a long-term view and the higher you rise, the further ahead you will have to look.
As a team member you will have been directed on a daily basis; as a manager you must look further ahead so that your goals are achieved cost-effectively.
By thinking about the consequences of different plans, the resources needed and the budgets required, you can select the optimal plan and implement it.
A key role for you as manager is to anticipate problems and offer support and protection to your team.
This can mean many things; from not over promising on deadlines to ensuring that you take the blame for bad decisions. It also means helping those who are going through difficult times.
It’s often forgotten just how much of a balancing act good management is. Good managers, by definition, make their role look easy so what they do can look deceptively simple. When things go wrong, of course, the job can look horrendously complicated.