7 Things to Change When You Become a Manager

Achieving Goals, Career Enrichment, Leadership Coaching
10/15/18 - Foram Sheth

Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to a manager because you’re a rockstar, you did your job really well and you nailed it at being a subject matter expert. You’ve outgrown your role, and the next step up is being a manager. This is probably the biggest career step most people will make – the promotion from being an individual contributor to a manager. But now comes all of the responsibility. You’re responsible for managing a group, and what got you promoted will not be the same skills you need to succeed as a manager.

Here’s what needs to change:

1. Your definition of success

When you were an individual contributor, your definition of success looked in the form of “I need to do X really well and show results.” Your success revolved around tactical work and your personal contributions. As a manager, it’s a whole new ball game. Your definition of success is no longer about you; it’s about your team. This leads us to reframe our mindset and think about success through the performance and development of others. Your success is directly linked to helping your team members excel individually and bringing the team together to collectively work towards a common goal to advance your organization.

2. Invest in yourself

Managing people is hard. There’s no manual, rule book or a one size fits all approach. Each individual is different, complex and has his/her own motivators, derailers, strengths, and opportunities. In order to navigate the people side of managing (which is 97% of managing), think about investing in yourself to learn the skills and build the confidence on how to cultivate effective leaders within your team and help them thrive. Seek out a coach to develop yourself so that you can coach others. The best way to teach is to be taught.

3. Step out of the details

As an individual contributor, you were responsible for every single detail of your work. It was your job to be in the micro, and that’s what made you successful. Now that you’re managing other people, it’s nearly impossible for you to be in that level of detail. In fact, it’s dangerous for you and your team if you’re in that type of detail. A key part of your role is to keep a pulse on what’s going on with each team member, how it’s impacting the organization, communicate that to your boss and course correct as needed.

Now that’s a lot to remember and keep moving forward. This is why you’ll have to take a step back and think about the bigger picture. Ask yourself, what’s the organizational goal and strategy right now? What’s our function’s role and strategy to support the organizational goal? What is my team’s part in supporting the function and organization forward? Once you have those questions answered, every action should support it. At any given time, you should be able to answer and frequently communicate how your team fits into the bigger picture and how your team is contributing to the bigger mission.

4. Don’t be the hero (or the martyr)

It was nice as an individual contributor to be recognized for providing your manager a much needed analysis. Your manager saw a need for the analysis and recognized the impact it could have, so you stayed in the office until 10pm to get it done and save the day. That’s no longer your role. So now it’s your job to identify what the team, the customers or organization needs and identify the best person in your team who can deliver that. You are now supporting the hero and creating opportunities for your team to shine. It’s no longer about you burning the midnight oil for fame and glory but instead to allow your team to step up to have opportunities to learn and grow and to be recognized for their contributions (hopefully not at 10pm).

5. Recognize and celebrate every success and failure

In this economy, people are wanting more for less. It can be hard to see the immediate impact or satisfaction, so remember to celebrate success every step of the way. Recognize others for their efforts, their strengths and for a job well done. And when things don’t go the way you originally planned, use that as an opportunity to learn about how to improve next time around. In safe environments, encourage taking chances as it will allow your team members to stretch themselves and innovate.

6. Know when to coach and manage

There’s a big difference between managing and coaching. When you’re in a management position, it might seem natural to give out commands and let your team members know exactly what needs to be done and how. While this is appropriate sometimes, don’t let this be a default. Instead, think about coaching your team members to think the way you’re thinking about problem solving and empower them to come up with their own solutions.

At Ama La Vida, we follow the RISE methodology for determining when to coach and when to manage. If there is a Right or wrong answer, if a team member is Inexperienced, if there is a Specific course of action that needs to be taken or if it is Essential to complete the task perfectly, then it is appropriate to manage and give clear instruction. In all other situations, do your best to coach your team member instead of manage.

7. Work yourself out of your role

This might sound scary at first. You’ve just been promoted, and now I’m asking you to work yourself out of your role. An indicator of a good manager is how many people the manager is able to develop into new managers. Your manager helped you step into the management role by providing you with the opportunities you needed to step up.

Now it’s your turn! Start with thinking through how you succeeded. You first had to master your role as a subject matter expert. Help your team members do the same by providing opportunities for them to hone in on their expertise. Then in a safe environment, allow them to stretch outside of their comfort zone and give them opportunities to be a mentor and start informally managing others. This is a great way to build up your team so that as your team succeeds and advances within the organization, you succeed and advance too.

You’ve worked really hard to become a manager. Celebrate that and recognize yourself for a job well done. And now it’s time to learn a new craft – one that’s equally, if not more, rewarding. You get to coach, teach and develop those around you.

I became a leadership coach because I’ve experienced firsthand the impact managers have made on their team members. It takes one dedicated manager to positively change the career trajectory of an individual. You can be that manager.


If you’ve been promoted recently and are struggling to adjust to life as a manager, click here and we will match you with a leadership coach for a complimentary consultation.

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