Managing the Transition from Worker to Boss

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

Transitioning to management brings feelings of excitement, but also anxiety, as you move into a new position with more responsibility. Make the change easier by being proactive and getting the information you need to step confidently into your new role from day one. Here are a few tips to help you out on your path to becoming the boss.

Gather Information

Transitioning to management begins as soon as you are promoted. Start by seeking out information about the manager you are replacing. Ask around to learn about the person's reputation. Are you replacing a strong leader who met goals and was well-loved by his team, or are you replacing an ineffective manager who was rarely available or who ruled the office with an authoritarian demeanor? If the previous manager was a favorite, the team may be going through a mourning period, and you need to try to keep some things consistent and not implement too many changes right away. On the other hand, if the manager was unpopular, you may want to move in strong with a new philosophy and way of doing things.

Build Trust

Open communication is important to transitioning to management smoothly. Set up meetings to talk to each of the people on your team. Listen to their concerns. Pay attention to interactions and how individuals work together. Ask questions about goals, assignments and priorities. Communication builds trust. You want your workers comfortable coming to you with concerns. Share some of yourself, and avoid being overly assertive. A strong boss leads from a place of connection, not fear.

Seek Out Support

When you're a new manager, having outside support is important. While you are building trust with your team, continue to check in with your own boss. Ask about training opportunities to help with transitioning to management. Seek out a mentor to guide you through your new responsibilities, or just have lunch on occasion with a supportive colleague. Feeling that you have someone to talk to and are not alone makes things easier when problems happen as you're working on becoming the boss.

Implement Goal-Oriented Change

After you feel somewhat knowledgeable in your new role and have gained the trust of your team, it is time to start implementing changes. The key at this point in transitioning to management is to only make goal-oriented changes. Avoid making changes simply because you prefer to do things differently. For example, if the team has weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons, don't change that simply because you think Friday is a better meeting day. On the other hand, if you've noticed that projects tend to flow from Monday to Friday, with many team members having downtime Friday afternoon, you could modify the meeting day to that time with the goal that productivity will be increased and that there will be finished projects to discuss at that time. Make sure that you can explain to your team why you are making changes and how the changes fit in with your team's mission.

Transitioning to management doesn't need to be a stressful process. Gather information about your team, keep the lines of communication open, and seek out support to become an effective leader who has have his team's respect.

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