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Transitioning from Peer to Boss?

How's That Working Out?

Transitioning from Peer to Boss? How’s That Working Out?

You started your new management position two weeks ago, and now, reality has begun to set in – you aren’t quite sure you have what it takes to make it work. Do you find yourself wondering "What was I thinking"? I know your fear, the lack of confidence, that feeling of being in over your head. That was how I felt. When I got promoted to my first role as manager, I brought years of expertise to the table with me - as an individual contributor, sometime team lead or project lead. Sadly, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I understand completely where you’re at. It’s where I was after the excitement of being promoted began to wear off, and the feeling of being overwhelmed daily, took over. It’s like taking on the role of “The President”. I’m sure many of us think we’d know exactly what to do, where so many others have goofed. And we believe we’d do things differently, better. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And not knowing could leave you in a very perilous spot.

So let’s go back to the position you find yourself in - what are you planning to do about it? You could go back to your old position, maybe. Or “fake it till you make it”, as many before you have done. Of course, that’s only going to take you so far. At some point, who you really are will be revealed. Hang in there; all is not lost yet.

You can become Wildly Successful within your first 3 months on the new job. How, you wonder. Well I'm going to share with you some of the hard-earned wisdom I gained over my 25+ years in leadership roles. Hopefully, it’ll guide you, help you to get on the right path, heading toward success without making as many mistakes as I did. Although you may have already been on the new job for some time now, these steps can still be taken.

First and foremost, get to know your new boss. Whether you knew this person before being promoted or not, treat this as a new relationship, because he’s now the person you report to, and you want him as an advocate. This is all about managing up as they say, influencing, persuading and advising. Yes, you can manage your boss, direct reports, peers and stakeholders – it comes down to influence (more on that later). You can become highly effective using this tactic, more so than you know.

More than likely, you’ll be the one establishing the relationship with your manager, and that’s alright. You’ll have the chance to set the tone. You want to get on his calendar within the first week if you’re able to. And when you have that sit down use your time strategically. Here are some of the things you’re going to want to learn about your new boss over the next few months:

  1. His leadership style, pressures, strengths, and weaknesses.
  2. What the organizational priorities, challenges, and goals are.
  3. What challenges he’s facing, and what his goals are?  
  4. What the priorities and expectations are – for you and your team, from your boss’ perspective.  I made the mistake of thinking my new boss’ priorities would align with mine, since I had such great, innovative ideas for the team and the program - big mistake.
  5. What equates to a win, a success, according to your manager’s perspective?
  6. How he communicates best (email, face-to-face, phone, instant messaging, texting); flex to his style.  Don’t expect him to adopt yours.
  7. What if anything you can take off his plate to free him up.

Although you’re at the beginning of this journey, realize that you aren’t going to be able to do everything. It would be impossible to do it all yourself; you’re going to need some help – Delegate! (I’ll cover some great delegation tips in a future post).

Ultimately, you want to build trust and credibility so that your manager feels comfortable leaving the finished product up to you. This is going to take some time; it won’t happen overnight. Be in it for the long run.

And don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take a breath, stop for lunch, take an afternoon walk, and when you can, leave work at work.

Have a great week!

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