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How to Survive as a New Manager, By Dave Clemens of the HR Cafe Blog

How to Survive as a New Manager

Dave Clemens

Dave Clemens

By Dave Clemens


You just got promoted. Now you’re a manager and finally on the career path you always dreamed about. But does it feel different to be in a leadership role? You still get up every day and take a shower, have breakfast and drive to work. Your spouse, your children, your friends – they all see you the same. So not much has really changed, right?


Wrong. At work, everything has changed. Why? Because your boss, the most important person in your professional life, needs you to play a completely different role.


You probably got singled out for promotion because you were a strong performer, a producer who achieved excellent results. Now you’re in charge of a team, and your job is to get OTHER people to be strong performers. That’s what management is about. It’s the art of getting results through people. It’s so difficult that most people want nothing to do with it. Of those who take the challenge, many underestimate the complexities of management, and fail. But knowing what to expect when you take on that new position can help you succeed.


Everything changes


First, you need to truly understand what your new position means. It might be tempting to show up for work acting as though nothing’s changed. But that’s simply not true.


You can’t behave around rank-and-file employees the way you did before. In the eyes of those employees, you ARE the organization now. You weren’t promoted only because you were a good performer. The higher-ups recognized that your values were aligned with those of the organization and that you had assimilated its culture. So they made you, in effect, a representative of that culture.


As a new manager, it’s easy to overlook the fact that because you represent the organization, you’re constantly “on stage.” Everyone is watching and listening. Everything you say and do is amplified. If you propagate the organization’s core values and culture through your example, you’ll be on your way to success in your new role.


But if you contradict those values and culture, you’ll create confusion. And if you do it consistently, you’ll erode your credibility and effectiveness as a manager.


Loose lips…


There’s another major test to pass. Top executives must be 100% confident that a new manager can be trusted. As a member of the management team, you’ll be privy to sensitive information.


We’re not talking about anything nefarious or illegal. It could be competitive info. Imagine a new product is doing exceedingly well and you want to keep that quiet for a while to slow down your rivals. Or it could be the CEO’s decision to step down, which could cause chaos with investors and other stakeholders if it weren’t announced in a well-planned communications campaign. New managers, like other managers, must hold knowledge like this close to their vests. Remember, indiscretion isn’t a minor error. It’s the ultimate blunder for an aspiring manager.


Many mistakes you’ll make as a manager can be overcome. But a lapse of discretion can be terminal. The consequences are often extremely damaging. Also, it’s a breach of trust, and trust is very difficult, if not impossible, to restore.


Stepping into a managerial role may sound daunting. But it need not be. Knowing where most managers fail and what your boss hopes to achieve from promoting you are the first steps to succeeding as a new manager.


About the author:

Dave Clemens has spent years consulting with HR professionals, researching developing trends, tracking employment case law and reporting on what it all means to human resource professionals. His HR Café blog is read by 14,000+ subscribers three times each week and he is a senior writer for the Compliance & Management Rapid Learning Center online training site. His work has also appeared in the World Press Review, The Associated Press, and in several nationally recognized human resources, employment law and business newsletters.  Connect with David via Twitter @TheHRCafe