Transitioning to a leadership role
You got that promotion you’ve been gunning for—which means that someone was impressed by how you performed at your previous role. But it doesn’t mean that you get to just sit back on your laurels and enjoy the fatter paycheck. Instead, it means you now are beginning the work of transitioning from one role you did well to a new role that most likely requires new skills. And it probably means that now you’re supervising the people who were recently your peers. Here are some tips to help make your transition as smooth as possible.
To start, be sure you know exactly what your supervisor expects from you in terms of performance and as a leader. Ask what the benchmarks are and what you’ll be reviewed against. Find out which skills your supervisor feels you need to gain or improve on, and then check with both your supervisor and your human resources representative to determine whether and what sort of training is available.
Once you know what success means in your new role, get to work on becoming a good leader. And take it slowly. Be sure that you don’t come rampaging in with new ideas and changes; remember that your direct reports are transitioning too—they might be more than a little apprehensive about what it will mean to report to you, and they might be working through some frustration if they aspired to the promotion you actually got. So as you go through this process, remember not to gloat. Instead, start off your new relationship by being considerate of their potential disappointment and fears.
It will likely be helpful to start by meeting with each of your direct reports individually. This will be a great chance for you to begin to get to know each person on a new level. You can ask them about any concerns they might have and about what they feel they contribute to the business and to the team. Get ideas from each employee about how to best move the team forward with you as the leader. Let it be a two-way conversation, not just you rattling your mouth to the employees. This is also a good time to set clear expectations for each employee and to ask them what they expect of you. Be open and honest about the skills you need to improve on and ask them to give you feedback as you work to improve those skills.
Finally, remember, to earn respect, you need to be respectful. Don’t show favoritism to any employee, don’t participate in office gossip, and follow through on the things you say you’ll do. You’ll find that the more that you demonstrate integrity and support for your team, the quicker you’ll be able to earn their trust and goodwill. By taking some time upfront (and sticking with it down the road), you’ll set yourself up for leadership success. Good luck!