Now that you have decided that you want to move into a management role, it is transition time.  With some thought about your transition into this type of a role, you can set yourself up for success and avoid many of the potholes that new managers fall into.  The first 90 days are critical, so set up your goals, priorities, and activities for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days as part of your transition plan.  This plan works for the first 90 days of a project, program, initiative, or a new assignment – in addition to the transition to a management role.

Things to consider when establishing your plan:

  • Set up your expectations for results and behaviors. One of the first things that you will do is to meet with your boss and your new subordinates.  And, they are all going to want to know what you expect of them.  Many times you will be given the overall results to be produced but you get to determine the intermediate or feeder goals.  You also get to determine the team behaviors.  How do you expect people on your team to treat each other – and by extension how will you treat them and they you?
  • Research and network. Do you know who to go to for support and for answers if you look at the organizational chart?  Do you also know who to go to that might not be in your organization?  Cast your network wide and set up informational meetings with other departments.  You never know when those informal relationships will be needed to help you solve a problem.
  • Re-arrange your sense of time. As a manager you must be more committed to delegation and enablement than your to-do list and getting things done quickly.  Focus on investing the time with your people and helping them be more capable.  Purge the words ‘it takes me less time to do it than to teach it’ from your thoughts and speech.  Your job is to make the team and the organization more capable – this is the perfect area to walk the talk.
  • Quickly resolve conflict and betrayal. The faster the conflicts are identified and given sunshine, the faster they can be resolved.  Speed helps them stay the mole hills that they are instead of the mountains that they can become.  And, at some point, every manager is betrayed – usually more than once.  Unresolved betrayal in a manager creates a cynicism about working with people that leads to withholding, distrust, and the team protecting themselves at the expense of doing the work.  Learning how to resolve betrayal quickly keeps a manager vulnerable, open, and welcoming.
  • Stick to your purpose. When things get difficult, and there will be times that are difficult, your purpose will be your rock to hold on to.  Your purpose will provide context when there is adversity.  It will enable you to work through the adversity and difficulties of being a manager, get back into the game, and make a difference.
  • Request professionally in order to do your best work. Once you have established the above items, what do you need?  Do you need training, tools, additional staff, other support? Make requests to get what you need so that you will be able to sustain the deliverables.  This is especially true in with people skills.  Your technical skills didn’t come coded into your DNA, you had to learn them.  That is also true of the human skills – so ask for training you need.
  • Request personally in order to do your best work.  Most people are really only good for about 6 hours of productive work per day.  But many are in the office or laboratory 12+ hours per day.  What do you need?  How many hours are you really good for?  Request boundaries of yourself – number of work hours, taking all of your vacation every year, dates nights with partners, social time with friends, art classes, time to read or hike, yoga class in the park, etc.  You want to have space in your life for the things nurture you and give you energy.  Remember, being in a management role is a marathon and not a sprint.  You have to make sure that you put on your oxygen mask first to be in a position to support your team.

Lastly – there is much written about being a leader vs. a manager.  The typical definitions list a manager as the person who delivers the identified work on time.  While the leader is the person who identifies what work needs to be delivered.  I have never thought that there was much conflict between the two terms but rather see them along a continuum of interacting with people who report to me.  The exact landing place along the continuum depends upon the results that need to be produced and the skills, experience, and self-direction of the team that will be producing the results.  Embrace both terms and roles – they are both needed to be successful.

George Bradt, Senior Contributor at Forbes Magazine said, “Taking over as a leader for the first time is a critical, career-defining moment.  Getting this transition right accelerates your career trajectory.  Avoiding avoidable mistakes at this juncture requires preparation, commitment, and follow-through.”

Plan out your first 90 days and put your foundation in place.  It will set you up for success and pay dividends into the future for you and your team.

Let us know how we can support you in your first 90 days of management!

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