Becoming a manager for the first time is a transformational experience. It changes the way others look at you, as well as how you look at yourself. With new responsibilities that focus more around leadership and less around personal production, your first foray into management means you will have to guide your team and redefine personal relationships while you cope with emotions of your own and the people you now lead.
Paul White, Ph.D., president of Appreciation at Work, tells SHRM that “almost all people moving into a new management role find it difficult and challenging.” As you embark on your first management role, here are a few things to keep in mind:
First-time managers can feel a wide range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety and self-doubt. Leadership roles bring additional responsibility and pressure, and it takes time to process all of the positive and negative feelings that come with changing expectations. Trusting in the work ethic and abilities that helped you earn your new role should help alleviate your worries about succeeding as a leader.
You may also find yourself dealing with the emotions of your employees at the same time; if you’re new to your organization, some may be wary or untrusting as they wait for you to prove yourself; and if you won the promotion to management over your former coworkers, you may also have to deal with jealousy and hurt feelings of those who were passed over.
In most cases, your relationships with your former peers will change as soon as you step into your new management role. Instead of simply being your friends, your employees now rely on you for support and guidance in helping meet your organization’s goals; and in some cases, you may even become a mentor to your workers. Whether your communication style with your former peers remains casual or becomes more formal, your overall relationship with them will have to change because of your new responsibilities to each other.
You may find yourself asking how close and accessible you should be to your employees: the answers to these questions may depend on your office environment, the type of work you do, and your team’s responsibilities to you. But having comfortable relationships with your employees can be beneficial for everyone. “If people are happy at work, they usually are comfortable with their boss on many levels,” according to HR compliance expert Lois A. Krause.
Relying on Your Team
Your work ethic and productivity may have led you to your first management role, but to succeed at your new responsibilities as a leader, you have to trust in your team and delegate effectively. It is tough to let other people do the tasks that you have performed so effectively in the past, but there are no good alternatives to delegating the work: your employees may see an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that you are doing their work; you will have less time to manage your team and uphold your responsibilities as a leader; and you will be at greater risk of burnout.
Managing people for the first time will present many new challenges; but as you grow into your new role, you will develop leadership and communication skills that will guide you throughout your professional career. As you embark on your new leadership role, remember to trust in your own abilities and judgement, and trust your new employees to do their part to achieve your collective goals.