Don’t Fear That Promotion!

Don’t Fear That Promotion!

There they were in my office…two new nervous managers against the wall.  Uneasy and full of reframed enthusiasm.  These bright and talented people were recently promoted from field positions and now it was their turn to step up and manage.  I could see fear and uncertainty on their faces.

And they soon asked the right question, “What do we do now?” 

Newly promoted managers who are expected to start overseeing the quality, production and/or service expectations often ask this big question.  Being responsible for the performance of others is a big change.

The first management trap… believing the methods that made you successful will be the same methods to be followed by your team.  Sounds simple?  Not quite.  Everyone is unique. Each team member is motivated and learns differently.

A promotion and fear? How can a new exciting position promote a negative emotion? It often does, especially with new managers who have never managed. Or the manager who is promoted for the wrong reasons. Or the manager who took the role because no one else wanted it.  Not to mention, there is the fear of failure and letting yourself and the organization down.

No need to fear your promotion.  You can sweep it aside by implementing these suggestions to help you assimilate (with some challenges) into your new important position:

·      Understand your expectations and sphere of influence: find clarity with your manager.  Don’t let ego and pride get in the way.  Be teachable.  Know what your expectations are and who the people you will be interfacing with. Meet with your manager often – understand the expectations for quality results and timeliness. Don’t assume.  Know your management map. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from being genuine with your boss.

·      Ask questions to clarify: if you don’t know how to proceed, ask your manager for direction.  The best solutions to problems come from asking insightful questions.  Lots of them.  Journal successes and proposed process changes and how they benefit your team. Keep a log of innovative ideas that you can discuss with your employees (and boss). Challenge yourself to work with your strengths and leverage them to the benefit of others.  Manage your weaknesses. Don’t let the fear of not understanding keep you from meaningful inquiries.

·      Know your people – listen and learn (and jot down new ideas): spend lots of time with your people and get to know them – as hard working, diligent people andemployees.  Management is about people care, growth and development, motivation and progress.  Discover the areas where they shine, stay engaged and contribute. Be modest…you don’t have to be the expert in everything.  Ask your employees often,  “what can I do better to support you or how can I help you have your best day at work, everyday?” Then actively listen.

·      Openly communicate your passion and expectations:  let your team know your heart, core values and priority mindset.  Help them by simplifying the complex and ensuring the company mission and purpose is relevant to their work. Remind them often. Prioritize time to support your people to help solve problems. Be available and be accessible. Don’t isolate yourself because of fear. 

·      Nervous energy is good – search for solutions: use the anxiety to inspire yourself to move through “problem hurdles” and focus your energy on solution development. You don’t have to know everything (or pretend that you do). Don’t navigate the ship solo; rely on the talent and strengths of your team for the best solutions.  Don’t let fear of lacking a specific talent keep you away from asking for help from your team. 

·      Pursue strengths, skill and knowledge development: take time to reflect on your progress.  Schedule time for self-discovery. Understand the inside of yourself to effectively manage outside yourself and for the betterment of others. Authentically share with your people how you are developing yourself and the lessons you are learning.   Be a model for development and growth. Don’t let the fear of yourself keep you from being a student of your powerful instinctive behaviors.

·      Mentor me: look for a successful manager who has more tenure, whom you can confide, express struggles and keep you accountable for the betterment in your role.  Mentors add encouragement to your performance and assist you to navigate the culture of the organization. Don’t be fearful of someone who could provide practical counsel to help you along the path of excellence.

Becoming a manager is not a personal power, ego or office entitlement trip. Money should not be the primary driver. If it is, these factors can be a setup for failure.  A management promotion should be thrilling to you – learning about your team relationships, problem solving, enhanced execution and coaching your team to excellence in assigned (or expanded) work roles. There should be a deep desire to come along others to encourage, grow and develop an outstanding team.

The manager thrill comes from experiencing your people thriving in excellence and results. You will work harder than most your employees and typically be paid less than your best employees (especially in sales). Refine your communication skills to help inspire others to fully leverage their strengths and teach them how to manage their weaknesses.

Serve and encourage your team, lead with humility and learn as much as you can.  Be patient with yourself. After some time, confidence will build and you will be able to wean yourself from asking permission from your boss. Continue to use your best strengths, best skills and knowledge to help the organization be successful.

Rest assured, you will be adding enormous value soon…and promotional fear will turn to fulfillment.

The ancient king said it best: Worry (anxiety and fear) weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up!