Excel as a leader and manager in your new role.
So, you finally earned the promotion you dreamed about. Because of your technical expertise and your ability to reach performance goals consistently, your organization made you a manager.
You're thrilled with the idea of advancing your career... until reality hits you. After a few weeks, you start to realize that you're spending very little time doing what you used to do best – that is, using your technical skills. Instead, you're spending a lot of your time dealing with "people problems," navigating office politics, and coordinating projects and team members.
You knew things would be different, but it's exhausting compared with your previous role. Have you made a mistake in accepting the promotion? What can you do to improve your new situation?
Any management promotion can be a challenge, but it's especially hard on people with strong technical skills, but who have little or no management experience. In this article, we'll explore how to make the transition, and what you can do to excel in your new role. We'll also include links to several other resources that can help you strengthen the skills you need for success.
Technical experts are often promoted because they have recognized knowledge and skills in their field. Whether it's IT, finance, sales, or marketing, they know their job very well. After all, that's what got them noticed!
The problem is that organizations often promote people based on these technical skills, not on their management skills. And many organizations offer very little support to new managers. This is why it's up to you to teach yourself the skills you need!
You first need to recognize that your technical knowledge may not help much in your new management role. Why? Because instead of just focusing on your own skills and successes, you now have to focus on the skills and successes of your team. Your mindset has to change.
This is where many technical managers make their biggest mistakes. Instead of paying attention to the "people aspect" of their new role, they continue to do what they've always done: work on their own projects and technical skills. But if you ignore your team and their needs, you're going to alienate them quickly.
Another challenge is that your identity in the organization changes. You may have been a superstar in your previous role, but now you're starting at the beginning again. It can be difficult for new managers to cope with this "identity demotion."
To fight this, focus on gaining some early wins – small victories that you can achieve quickly – in your new position. This will give you, and your new team, a great sense of accomplishment, as well as the motivation to keep moving forward. To help you identify opportunities for early wins, see our article on Pareto Analysis .
The good news is that you can succeed – and succeed spectacularly – in your management role. To do so, however, you must learn a new set of skills, including:
You can learn more valuable tips for making the transition from technical expert to manager with our Book Insight on What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.
Making the transition from technical expert to manager can be challenging, especially if you have little or no management experience.
Look at the key skills you need to be an effective manager, and focus on learning one new skill at a time. Do a personal SWOT analysis, and try to find a mentor who has experienced the same transition. Also, don't do tasks associated with your previous role – your job now is to manage your team.
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