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Becoming a manager, day 2. How do you feel?







You just got promoted to a manager. Congratulations! Great success and something you have been working hard to achieve!

You immediately changed your signature, updated your LinkedIn profile and received a tone of “Congrats”.


And now, when you sit alone and need to decide what to do next, how do you feel?


Do you feel equipped and prepared? Do you have a precise plan for your activities? People to contact, tools to review, meetings to attend and organize? What about the 1:1s with your team members and the most important stakeholders? Strategy, development plans, current challenges they’re facing, aspirations they have, team dynamic…? Any fire fighting that is now yours to deal with?


Is your head spinning already?


I’ve been there.


The promotion to a manager was exciting but at the same time very difficult. It meant a completely new role and a shift from a team member to the team’s manager.

I had the impression that people who were my work buddies now took a step back and watched. I couldn’t blame them, I moved to the ‘other side’ and now, in their eyes, their responsibilities, salary and promotions were in my hands.


From one day to another, I’ve become a mentor and a go-to person for my colleagues… as if with the promotion all the new knowledge was uploaded to my brain overnight.

While still being responsible for some of my key customers, I needed to find time to quickly learn and act in my new role. There were moments when I was close to a panic attack when I was trying to do everything that needed to be done, and my ‘to-do’ list was getting longer and longer… And I was a Customer Success Manager for years by then, and in the role you learn quickly how to manage multiple tasks at the same time.


I started in the role in October, and it was the middle of our Q4. So, I was attending QBRs, SBRs, performance review sessions, check-ins, salary and promotion planning sessions, I was hiring and building strategy for next year….


I tried to be more efficient and added an ‘urgent-to-do’ list, and ‘important learning’, and ‘to-review-later’…


I felt I needed to prove that I’m worthy – to other managers, stakeholders, my team members. And I wasn’t sure if being myself is the right way… actually, I didn’t know how “being myself” as a manager should look like.


I cared about the team and the organization, and this was my main driver. I wanted the people to be successful and happy because this was in my eyes the best way to innovation and high performance.


I believe I did well, at some point I was recognized as a Manager of the Quarter, and we had a wonderful, high performing team.


The thing is – I got lost in the daily struggles. Trying to survive and stay on top of everything, I didn’t think about myself at all for a long time.



Did you ever experience such a stage of mental exhaustion when you just sit down and stay like that, with your brain numb and blank?


It was happening too often to me. And at some point I said to myself that it’s enough.

I’ve learned a lot – from my own mistakes and successes as a manager, from others, studying. It helped, and I managed to change my way before it was too late and I burned out.

Today, as a Transformation Coach, I help others with their journey.


Success is wonderful but it really has a price. So, take care of yourself as soon as you can and equip yourself for the job.

Being a leader doesn’t need to be a lonely place, doesn’t need to exhaust all your resources and eat up all of the space.



There are few things you can try:


Request training and resources as soon as you know about the promotion.

Don’t leave learning to the moment you have the title. Learning on such a demanding job is not easy.


Invest in yourself, get help. Get a good coach.

You need to be strong for yourself, and your team. It’s much easier when you have on your side someone objective, focused only on you, your wellbeing and success, someone who won’t sugar coat or judge but will challenge you to see what you don’t notice in own behavior and thinking patterns, and take action that will help you become better and more confident in your approach.

Highly successful people have others supporting them. We don’t need to look far for examples: Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have their own coaches. Rich Litvin, one of the most successful coaches in the world whom I have the pleasure to work with, also invests in own support group. He stated recently, “Over the past two years, I have had support and coaching from five people—an expert on business, an expert on entrepreneurship, an expert on intuition, an expert on relationships and an expert on the body.”


Get a mentor.

While a coach can work with you on your goals, perception, growth, blind spots and motivation to move forward, a mentor can share with you their knowledge around the company dynamics and politics, useful tools and resources and can help you navigate inside the organization. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and figure out everything on your own. With a good mentor you can brainstorm, ask questions and grow in the role much faster.


Create (and protect!) time for thinking and reflection.

This time is not a good-to-have, it’s a must-have! If you keep doing things without analyzing, checking and adjusting, you will make mistakes, choose in a rush,


Find people who you can share some of the work/responsibilities with and delegate.

There are multiple options for task delegation. You can start with small activities, maybe one type of meetings that one of your team members can attend on your behalf and summarize it for you. Or report preparation, data processing. You also don’t have to choose one person, you can distribute the responsibilities across the team. These additional tasks can give the team members additional opportunity to add new experience to their portfolio, be seen in the organization and feel that you trust them.


Monitor and control your energy level

Sometimes (often) the workload forces you to work long hours, and there is nothing you can do about it, some things just need to be done within a timeframe. What you can control though is your energy. When busy and stressed, we often tend to skip meals, sleep and exercise and spend most of the time glued to a computer screen. What we need, especially in such situation, is the opposite! You’re in the fight mode, your body and mind need fuel and rest to recharge for it!


Analyze the way you are in the new role

What worked for you as an individual contributor isn’t necessary the best approach when you are responsible for others. It may take some time, and some external feedback, but it’s really a useful exercise – it will give you an understanding of your approach and areas you should improve for better leadership style and more constructive, supporting approach.


Few basic questions for the start:

How do you communicate with your team?


Do you share your/company’s expectations, then jump in quickly, telling them what to do and how to deal with their challenges when they occur?

Or do you open a dialogue, make an effort to discuss the purpose of specific tasks, agree with them on timeframes and resources needed?


Are you listening, really listening to them? What do you do when they share something with you?


Do you know your team members? Do you know what motivates each person? Do you know their working style, when they are most productive and what are their biggest struggles?


And, when talking to people outside of your team, which language do you use? E.g. when discussing achievements, how often do you say “I” compared to “we” or mention individual team members’ contribution?




Being a leader is not a simple role. It requires awareness, self-, team- and organization-centered, open mind and constant adjustments because your results are the results of your team now. You start using a different skillset when moving from individual contributor to a manager position, and it may seem overwhelming at times. But with the right preparation and support it can be a rewarding, wonderful journey.


One more time – congratulations! And good luck!


Barbara

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