When The New Year Brings New Responsibilities
You have been consistently climbing the hierarchy at your job, demonstrating your technical proficiency and distinguishing yourself as a rising star. Once that rising star ascends into the management constellation, what should you expect? According to Dan McCarthy, “40 percent of internal job moves made by people identified by their companies as ‘high potentials’ end in failure.”
All of those hours coding, executing assignments, and producing whatever deliverables were asked of you have paid off; you are a “high potential” and now you get to run the whole show. What will be different? It is time to draft a plan and mobilize your resources. As you prepare to lead, consider:
Administrative Tasks Will Demand Your Time
There will be the new component of increased administrative work, such as status reports, human resources forms, and audit compliance tasks. These tasks will always be part of your job description. Now that it is here, know that this administrative work is a necessary part of keeping the gears moving within your organization. (And now you know that someone was doing it on your behalf all those years before now.) Viewing it as a task to go ahead and check off early in the day when your energy is high is a more potentially successful and satisfying strategy than squeezing it in when all you want to do is call it a day.
In addition, as someone freshly arrived to the administrative component of your new position, you may unearth obstacles to efficiency or opportunities for consolidation of outmoded processes that others have stopped “seeing.” Share your feedback with your leadership; yours may be the prompt they need to reassess some time wasters.
People Management Demands Will Multiply
When the names in the boxes on the organizational chart turn into real live people depending on you for guidance, evaluation, and direction, you have found the heart of the difference between your previous position and your new one. Now that you are managing, the demands for you to relate are many. Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malone, Wanda Orlikowski, and Peter M. Senge say the following about relating: “Traditional images of leadership didn’t assign much value to relating. Times have changed…and in this era of networks, being able to build trusting relationships is a requirement of effective leadership.” The number one piece of advice to heed when it comes to people management is: do not allow situations to fester in airless darkness. Be direct, be proactive, value the fact that relating brings with it as big a return on investment as many of your tangible business efforts will.
You Are Not Sure You Will Ever Get To Do What You Love Again
You don’t have to let the requirements of all that administrative work and people management completely displace your connection to the work you love that got you to this place. Paul Glen recommends allowing “indulgences,” meaning you should allow yourself to continue to dabble in the topic that propelled you up the leadership ladder. He continues, “New managers need the opportunity to occasionally dabble in their former work. Let them code just a little” and “revisit the glory days.”
Everyone Wants Something From You
Being in a position of leadership puts you squarely in the middle of various sets of expectations: your employer, your employees, your vendors. You may feel like an impostor, with a spiffy new title on the outside and the same old practitioner mindset on the inside.
Your former peer now wants a day off when you need him or her to be heading up a new initiative. A subordinate is upset that the revised office floor plan results in less window space. There are rumbles of dissatisfaction from various corners of the building about matters from the trivial to the serious. You may be feeling “this is not what I signed up for.” When encountering issues based on people’s needs, address them while they are small. It is natural for some first-time managers, especially if they do not have formal management training, to think “it will sort itself out” or “it’s not that big a deal.”
There is a component of management that is not delineated in black and white on the strategic plan: the discipline of building connectedness. As Kouzes and Posner say in Encouraging the Heart, “We need to feel connected to others and, in turn, they to us, because greatness is never achieved all by ourselves alone.” Fostering connectedness is as critical as bringing in a new client, writing the perfect program, or staying within budget. If nurturing connectedness makes you anxious, engage a mentor who can help you figure it out.
Remember Who You Are
Despite the additional administrative work, the challenges of managing people, and the distance from being able to practice your skill set, you still owe it to yourself to keep the spark of your individual assets alive. It is easy to get subsumed by the cascade of competing demands. Be deliberate about remaining true to the professional and personal identity you are carving out for yourself.
How Will January 2016 Look?
Ask yourself what you want the people you are now managing to feel about their first “year in review” as your employee. There’s every reason to believe they can feel inspired, motivated, and engaged rather than demoralized, deflated, and disconnected.
That begins with you. Why not start the moment you finish reading this post, wish your people a Happy New Year, and ask them to share a sentence about how January 2016 would look in their ideal world? The information you gather will be the perfect starting place as you plan your inaugural managerial year.