Transitioning into a Management Position


Moving from individual contributor to a manager is no small shift.  You’ve come this far in your career. You’re a recognized expert in your organization. Now, you’re embarking on something new, something exciting and, perhaps, a bit scary. As a manager, you’re no longer responsible for just yourself. You’ve now got people looking to you for direction and coaching, and your actions can help to set the stage for your team.

If you’re moving into a management position, the following tips can help you start your new role with a greater sense of purpose and confidence.

1) Know that you may not be or need to be the expert any longer.  

You’ve gotta let go to grow.  Your direct reports have expertise that will fill in your gaps.  As a manager, your job is to recognize which tasks should be delegated to employees –  even if it’s a task that you can perform more efficiently. Don’t be afraid to give your team more opportunities to build their expertise.  Your goal is to help them hone new skills so they can progress in their own career paths.

2) Get to know your employee(s)’ strengths

To understand your team’s strengths, you need to get to know your employee(s).  A great way to do this is to ask yourself and your team deeper questions.

For example, Harvard Business Review suggests asking, “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?”  Other thoughtful questions like, “What do you volunteer for without a second thought?” or  “What makes you feel useful?” can help uncover strengths. When paired with your observations about performance, you’ll be able to play to those strengths and increase your direct report’s confidence.

3) Strive for goals that will help develop your team and demonstrate their expertise.

You may need to reframe your personal goals. In that past, when you were an individual contributor, your focus was on the development of your own technical skills or sales expertise.  Now, that shifts to developing others. Focusing your goals on concepts like improving feedback channels, seeking gaps in processes, and supporting a consistent and methodical training program demonstrate your commitment.  Be sure to track your goals by breaking them down and using quantifiable KPIs to demonstrate to yourself and your manager your progress.

4) Trust yourself and your team.  

What comes first: trust in your team or their trust in you?

The former.  And you’ve got to show it!  When employees feel trusted, their confidence, engagement, and effort will all increase.  Trust forms over time.  According to The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, to build a trusting environment we have to consistently exhibit trusting behavior through micro-activities and share our vulnerabilities.  Demonstrating this as a manager opens others up to express their big ideas without fear of judgment.

5) Take advantage of your organization’s existing resources.

Regardless of the size or age of your organization, there are likely internal resources you can tap into. If you’re at smaller or newer organization, start building your manager network.  If you’re at a larger or more established organization, learn what tools and resources exist for managers.

Don’t have an official manager communication outlet at your organization?  Create one! Whether you have an internal communication tool (like Slack) or regular in-person meetings, it’s beneficial for managers to have a way to share ideas, openly ask questions about talent development, and stay informed on important dates that may impact their teams.

Each day, as you transition into you new role, focus on what you have control over: yourself.  By shifting your thinking, trusting your team, and leveraging your organization’s resources, you’re building up the group – and now that you’re a manager, their success is your success.