You’ve secured a great new financial management position. But once you’re made the cut and landed a management role, how do you handle the transition? Managing those who were recently your peers can be awkward, so it’s vital to step into your new position with grace and with a clear plan.
Here are our top tips on how to remain ahead of the game and how to navigate this tricky yet highly rewarding situation.
Recalibrate your relationships
Prepare to alter your relationship with co-workers. The situation has changed and so you have to accept that relationships will change. It is best you set the tone for these new relationships instead of letting "nature take its course". This doesn’t mean you have to start being the “guy everyone hates”—far from it—but you may have to let go of being the daily confidante of your peers. You cannot be everyone's best friend. You can step confidently into your new role as boss by honouring old office friendships without overindulging them. Never play favourites with old friends. Be fair.
When stepping into a management role for the first time, you need to be aware that things have changed. How you are viewed in the office and how you should view things have changed. One of the biggest challenges new managers have to deal with is to realise that even when they are affected by something at work, they need to keep their business head on and not let it show to their staff - this means no more complaining, whining or venting. Avoid office politics and gossip at all costs—always present yourself as a positive professional with something to offer.
Sit down with every member of the team you are supervising, one on one, to address any concerns and connect with each person personally. Assure them that you are dedicated to their well-being and development along with the well-being of the entire company and your department. Make sure to review their personnel files ahead of time so you’re prepared.
At the same time, sit down with your new manager and discuss his or her expectations of you, the strategic plans and goals of the department, and where that manager sees the most pressing need for improvement. Know what your performance expectations are up front.
Regular and clear communication with your manager and your staff is essential to establishing successful working relationships and the managing of expectations.
Embrace your new role by recognising what you’ll need to change about yourself to be successful. Being competitive might have gotten you the promotion, but being competitive isn’t necessarily the best way to manage a team. Always keep an open mind and practise active listening.
Find a positive leadership style
Establishing authority does not mean barking orders or being bossy. Being negative and criticizing your charges is a quick way to alienate them. Be on their side, enable them, hold them up. Never set them up for failure - be positive, encouraging and committed to developing them.
Honour the status quo
Incorporate as few major changes as possible. Don’t jump right in and rock the boat. You can make a few small changes right away to establish trust and authority, but save the big ones for later. Create a cohesive working culture and ensure that you have everyone's buy-in before you start making major changes. You need your team on your side and you need them to understand why these changes are essential. Thus timing is essential.
You’re going to have a lot of new challenges. Find someone within the company who can help you navigate them. HR might be a good place to start to find the right mentor, but if you already have someone in mind, approach that person directly. This person may or may not be in the same department as you but true leaders have skill sets that go beyond their own specialisation and you will learn a lot from them - you just need to ask for guidance and their support.
And be a mentor
And in return, be willing to be a mentor to others. After all, there’s a reason why you landed this promotion. You have something to share. Don't be afraid to step into that role - every mentor and leader had to start somewhere. And it is in being a mentor that you learn how to be a leader.
Speak in “we”
You’re only as successful as your team — and some would say you’re only as successful as the weakest member of your team. So always speak in the “we” voice.
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