So, now you’re a boss

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Congratulations. You used to be an individual contributor and now you’re responsible for the performance of a group. Don’t think of it as a promotion. Consider it a career change because the work is very different from what you’ve been doing.

It’s a brave new world and you’re in for a period of intense learning and growth. Here are some things you should know about what you’ve gotten yourself into and how to make the best of it.

You’re going to be new for a while

No matter how smart and savvy you are, learning to do things right will take you a while. My research says that it will take you twelve to eighteen months to get the basics down pat. During that time you will make a lot of mistakes.

You will get better faster if you commit to a couple of things. Embrace your situation as a learning opportunity of immense proportions. Make feedback and reflection a regular part of your life.

Your peers can be a great source of good advice. Just be choosy about who you listen to. Your teammates can help too, once they’re sure they can trust you. Everybody has an agenda, but most of the people around you want you to succeed.

What your job is and is not

Your job is to help the team and the individual team members succeed. The Marines put it this way: accomplish the mission and care for the people. Not one or the other. Both.

Your job is not to have all the answers, or catch people doing things wrong. Your job is certainly not to be the most important person in the room.

Your main tools

The main tool you have to get things done is your influence. Even though you’re new, your team members will watch you for clues about how to act. Use what you say and what you do to influence their decisions about what they will say and do.

You will be more successful if you develop positive relationships with every team member. Conversations are your main tool to develop those relationships.

Praise is your tool for getting more of what you want. Learn to praise results, but also progress and effort.

Some rules to live by

Problems do not usually solve themselves or get better with age. Deal with problems as soon as possible.

Experiments beat arguments. When someone brings you an idea, don’t waste time arguing about it. Instead ask, “How can we try this?”

The team is your destiny. Do everything in your power to make your team a great place to work.

Four expressions to master and use

I don’t know.

I’m sorry.

What do you think?

Thank you.

For More on This

I recently read these two posts that sparked the chain of thought that led to this post.

From Liz Wiseman: New Managers: Embrace Your Rookie Status

“When you transition from team member to manager, you aren’t just moving to a higher league; you’re playing in an entirely new game. How do you avoid mistakes? By embracing your rookie status.”

From Heidi Grant Halvorson: 3 Ways Managers Start Off On the Wrong Foot

“Decades of research on perception points to three key mistakes to avoid. I would call them “rookie mistakes,” but honestly, these are mistakes that many managers make – even seasoned ones.”

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