You made it! You’ve been promoted to your first management position and you’re eager to prove you have what it takes to be on the management track. The thing you have to do now is to make the right impression in a short period of time. Granted, you must have impressed them enough to be promoted, but now you have to prove to them that their confidence in you was well placed.
Anytime you move into a new position, you are really starting from the beginning, like going into an entry-level job. Hopefully, your previous experience has helped prepare you for this job, but you haven’t exactly done this job – yet. This means a learning curve. You might scoff at this perspective, but many CEO’s are fired publicly for exactly this reason. They didn’t approach their new management position as if they have things to learn. They failed to make the right first impressions and then ran things into the ditch because they didn’t know better. The same thing happens at all levels, we just don’t hear about them because they tend to not be made public.
Here are seven things you must do now and every time you get promoted – even when they make you CEO:
- Be there to learn. No one expects you to know everything; and if you act like you do, you will lose credibility. You will earn more respect from your new group, peers and boss if you approach your job as if you have things to learn- because you do.
- Don’t assume things are messed up. No matter whether you came from inside or outside to this job, don’t approach your job as if they need you to save the day. You might; but you don’t want to give off that impression. There are reasons things are the way they are and you need to figure them out. You may need to fix things, but you will step on toes if you approach things poorly.
- Plan on early wins. While you are there to learn your job and it will take a while, you need to demonstrate that you can get things done. While you’re in the learning mode, you will unearth things that can be done fairly quickly without fundamental structure or system changes. You should be looking for these opportunities, as they will be what “sets the tone” for how you are perceived. This is part of your first impression and you want to be thoughtful about this step.
- Build relationships. While you are in the learning mode, you won’t instantly understand who will be key to your new role. That won’t matter while you are integrating into your new position, but it is important to meet people up, down and sideways to start the relationship building. You will learn things from each person and you will discover to whom you gravitate. Relationships will be your key success factor as you move up the management chain. Building alliances, partnerships and coalitions are vital.
- Learn your job and expectations of you. It is important to learn how your boss will measure you and what they expect of you. Have the conversation early and often. While you’re at it, figure out what’s important to the boss, because you want your early wins to demonstrate to the boss most of all that they made a good decision. Turn the boss into an ongoing supporter.
- Figure out the political landscape. Don’t think of “political” as a nasty word. All groups have politics. You need to quickly determine how the politics or “people dynamics” work in your new position, so you can ensure any move you make will be aligned with the political landscape.
- Consider management training. There is a good chance you haven’t had any actual management training or education. Get some good basic classes or books on managing. There may be more to it than you realized.
As a manager there are tremendous things you can accomplish, as long as you start off on the right foot. Keep in mind all promotions are new jobs. Don’t assume you know everything; and that will keep you successful.