Exposing the Truth About Transitioning to Management

By MJ Plaster

You’ve been offered a promotion to management, and you know it means “more, more, more.” But more of what exactly? Hold your reply to the offer while we take a candid look at the pros and the cons of moving up to management and the best ways to handle the madness and mayhem of the transition to the elevated position.

Money and Benefits
Of course, you expect to make more money than you did in your previous job; however, your hourly pay could drop—significantly in some cases. When you switch from 40 hours per week with overtime to unlimited hours on a salary, do the math. You might want to rethink that offer. Further, as a manager, you might not be the highest-paid member of your team. A top sales person routinely makes more money than the sales manager.

You might also receive a bump in benefits along with pay—better health insurance, paid university tuition, gym memberships, etc. But will you have time to take advantage of them?

Authority and Responsibility
People will view you in a new light because management positions come with authority. Along with authority comes responsibility. As a manager, your director views you as the “buck stops here” person.

Your relationship with co-workers, some of whom could be friends, will, not might, change. When you become their direct supervisor, the quality of their work reflects on your ability to produce results. Managers accept the job with the understanding that they will make things happen. You know you can produce, but motivating others to work at the level your superiors find acceptable requires a different talent—leadership.

Work/Life Balance
Expect some disruption in your current daily routine. It’s important to know the company culture to be able to assess the degree of disruption you could encounter.

If you value family over work and the culture demands complete and total dedication, count on missing a few (or more) family occasions and losing some leisure time. What will you do when you’re in a meeting and you receive a call from the school that your child is sick? How will you schedule dentist appointments when managers at your company don’t take lunch away from their desks? How will you handle a canceled weekend getaway when a last-minute work emergency arises? Careful planning will take on new meaning in your life.

Read the tea leaves before you accept the promotion. Your company could place value on work/life balance. If it doesn’t, you can build your resume and work on your leadership skills and qualities while you find a company that is more in line with your values.

Tips for Handling the Transition to Management
The biggest transition comes from motivating others to do the work that you did so well. Saba Halogen, an HR software company says it best, “Your job now is to work through others, not simply to do the work yourself. Your primary focus should therefore be to manage the work of your employees and support their high performance.” Motivating is selling. Some people are natural motivators; others couldn’t sell a dip in the pool on a 100-degree day. People in management are always selling—selling even when it goes against their grain.

1. Take Advantage of Leadership Training
You’ll need new skills in your management position. If your company offers leadership training, take advantage of it. If not, you can find free training online. Visit Inc. to find nine other places to start your search for courses. Even if you don’t think you’re a natural leader, you can acquire the skills if you want to.

2. Establish a New Relationship With Co-Workers
You’ll need to put some distance between you and your former co-workers to establish your authority. Leave behind water-cooler gossip, venting and speculation, and focus on earning their respect. You cannot slip confidential information to subordinates, even to friends. Start by dressing the part and exuding confidence. You don’t have to forsake friendship, but you do have to convey the message that you are in control.

3. Communicate
Start by talking with each member of the team to learn how they feel about your transition to management. Explain that you’re going to be fair and impartial when evaluating their work, and that you won’t show favoritism. Keep lines of communication open. The best managers keep an open-door policy. It helps them to read the team’s interactions and progress and to stomp out molehills before they become mountains.

4. Be Honest About Expectations
Remember that you will be judged by your team’s performance. Lay out expectation clearly and early. Make sure everyone understands his or her role in reaching milestones.

5. Respect Your Team
You have to earn respect as a manager even if you previously had the team’s respect. Work through steps 1–4 above, keep the lines of communication open, and treat everyone professionally and with dignity, and you’ll be on your way.

When I owned a business, I worked with around 10–15 contractors at any given time. Because I knew everyone and knew they were professionals, my motto was, “Don’t bore me with the details, but if you need anything at all, do not hesitate to come to me.” Without exception, the arrangement worked for me. Perhaps I was lucky, but I also respected everyone. I think that is the secret sauce—respect.

What’s your secret sauce? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook page.