You Got Promoted to ID Manager: Now what?
Your boss calls you into the office: good news! You're being promoted.
But you've never been a manager before.
And while you're a great ID and know you want to be a great manager, you just don't know where to start.
This post is for you-- and those who hope to be like you some day.
Find a Mentor
You are going to have challenges you don't know how to address. You will need a guide, a sounding board.
Whose leadership do you admire? Who do you think can provide good feedback? Approach them, let them know about your new role, and ask them if they might be willing to let you check in with them from time to time. Let the relationship evolve from there (or end-- if it's not the right fit).
Note that while an internal colleague is ideal, it may be someone external of your organization.
Acknowledge Power Differentials
No matter how much you want to be "one of them," you are now in a position of power over your once-peers. You influence their career path.
Respect that. Understand that your former office besties may not be willing to tell you truths, like they once were, for fear of losing their job or being judged by their boss. They may resist you or resent you for moving up when they felt someone else would have been a better fit. They may complain about you behind your back (who has never said a bad thing about their boss?). It's normal.
Make space for open, honest conversation, and recognize you may not always get it.
On the flipside, if you have a close relationship with your colleagues, you may have to create distance. That doesn't mean don't be friends/friendly, but that you have to recognize that the words you speak hold just a bit more power these days. You can't involve yourself in office drama. You can't badmouth team members to other team members. Complaining about a colleague to another colleague is frowned upon-- although we've all done it at some point-- but complaining about a direct report to another direct report? That's a recipe for disaster. It will erode trust and respect.
You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than your team members.
Call a Team Meeting
I'm not one for meetings for meetings sake, but new leadership is a good reason to have one. This is your first opportunity to team build.
You'll want to introduce your vision, create a space to address questions and receive feedback, and most importantly, help your team members feel connected and included.
Before you call this meeting, I encourage you to:
Take 1-2 hours to write down your professional values, your leadership philosophy, and your vision for your team
Have your team jot their thoughts about what you should stop doing, what you should start doing, and what you should continue doing (yes, the good old stop/start/continue model) -- You can ask them to consider it and bring notes for discussion, you can have them enter their thoughts in a survey, or you can set up a collaborative space, like a Miro board to get things going.
Write down your priorities-- What are your short term and long term goals for yourself as a leader and for your team? And remember, if everything is a priority, nothing is.
Consider how you want to structure your department. Check out Tracie Cantu's blog post "Designing Your L&D Team" for information on the different hierarchies.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the tool that makes your team scalable. If the work of documenting SOPs hasn't been done or you intend to change any of them, this is an essential early step.
Document everything your team does, whether that's the request intake processes, training development, review cycles, evaluation-- all of it needs to make its way into easy to follow documentation.
You can use tools like Miro, Notion, ClickUp, Visio, or even good old Google Docs, but make sure you do it.
Bonus points if you can delegate to team members (i.e., it doesn't all come from your brain but is truly a team process).
Coffee Chats & Lunch N Listens
Take the opportunity to get to know each of your team members outside of the day to day. Let them express their thoughts freely without worrying if one of the other team members will hear.
I learned this one from Sam Calamari. She took all of her new direct reports out for coffee outside the office on a regular basis, and it helped us connect and feel heard.
Now, you may have been internally promoted, so the get-to-know you part of this equation may be less important than creating a safe space to discuss the changing landscape of the department and their own wants and wishes.
Create a Skills Inventory
Make this a collaborative exercise. Create a shared document, preferably a spreadsheet.
Have every team mate list the skills they think they possess-- professionally and personally-- and their level of ability. For example, they might spend their days developing Storyline and consider themselves an expert. They might also be an expert public speaker and a novice painter.
Knowing these sorts of things can help you create new opportunities for your team and can help you come up with solutions that make sense for your team when there are problems. It will also help you identify gaps for hiring and training purposes.
Hold One-On-One Goal Setting Sessions
Schedule a one hour session with each of your team members to discuss their current goals, responsibilities to the team, and future career aspirations.
Work together to craft an action plan for the next 6 months.
Set a meeting for 3 months out to review progress.
Plan Your PD
Middle management is not for the faint of heart. You'll be learning on the job everyday, and many times, there are high stakes involved with decision making. That's why you're paid more.
As your team plots their existing and desired skills, you should take the time to do the same. Create an action plan. What are the areas in which you need to continue your development? How will you develop these skills?
Here a few areas to consider:
inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging
evidence-based decision making
recruiting & hiring
collaborating with stakeholders
communicating with executive leadership
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