Moving Into Management

Sections of this topic

    How can you ramp up quickly and start getting results?

    There are few career moments as exciting, and these days as perilous, as being promoted from an individual contributor to a manager. Here are seven career tactics with quotes from professional who have successfully moved into management.

    1. Begin your transition before you start the job.
    What are the key challenges? Which functions are strong, and which ones need to be overhauled? What are your expectations in the first month, after 6 months, within a year? Use that information to develop an action plan from day one.

    “The interview process is where you start. That’s where you begin asking questions to find out what it will take to be successful.”

    2. Acknowledge what you don’t know.
    Identify those around you who are the experts and don’t be afraid to lean on them. No one expects an incoming manager to know everything. And there is nothing more off-putting to a future team than a know it all boss.

    “I had lots of credibility as a manufacturing engineer. But suddenly I was responsible for tool design, fuselage definition, all kinds of areas that weren’t in my background. I had to get up to speed fast.”

    3. Be an elephant hunter not an ant stomper.
    You can’t fix everything at once despite the pressures that are on you as the new manager. Everyday you must go out hunting elephants, those high priority goals, rather than stomping ants, those tasks that are quick kills but do not put much meat on the table.

    “Typically, you can’t do everything you want to do, so you need to make some strategic choices. This is where you begin to align your goals around your organization’s key initiatives.”

    4. Target a few early wins.
    Nothing succeeds like success. It’s critical for a new manager to create momentum during the transition. Pick some problems the organization has not been able to solve and figure out a way to fix them quickly.

    “I didn’t want to solve world hunger in the first three months, but I was looking for a couple of things that would pay immediate dividends. Where I could get the attention of my boss and show her I can be effective.”

    5. Keep an eye on the clock.
    Make sure your time is used to its best advantage. If you’re like most hard-charging managers, you’ve got a well-articulated to-do list. Now take another look: Where’s your stop-doing list?

    “We’ve all been told that managers make things happen and that’s true. But it’s also true that good managers distinguish themselves by their discipline to stop doing anything and everything that doesn’t fit.”

    6. Fix your mistakes faster than you make them.
    Taking over a top job exposes a new leader to all kinds of pitfalls. Accept that you can’t know everything in your first six months and can’t insulate you from making mistakes.

    “The key is to assess yourself and your progress and to be prepared to make your own course corrections as you go along”.

    7. Balance the big picture with front line views.
    Go where the action is. Get out of your office and walk the shop, retail, plant floors. Talk with your front-line people, your peers, your customers and even your suppliers. They generally will give you the “real” scoop rather than what you tend to hear from your direct reports .

    “During my first six months, I visited more than 50 stores and met with more than 500 team members. I knew they could tell me, better than headquarters, what the company needed to do in order to keep on growing.”

    Your experience moving into management.

    What lessons have you learned that would help the newly promoted? I would enjoy hearing from you.

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?