Now that you are a manager, you find yourself standing at the top edge of the diving board—tentative and feeling some doubt about jumping into your role. You wouldn’t have been selected to the role if senior managers didn’t think you could succeed at the job. Being a manager is not beyond you. Here are a few tips on managing doubt and becoming excited about your new role.
Sure it sounds cliché, but confidence is key. If you have doubt in your ability, realize that you have more power over those doubts than you realize. Long before you were a manager you had doubts and fears about other “obstacles.”
Remember all those other worries? There was your driving test, SATs, college applications, finals, job interviews, project presentations, client meetings—the list goes on. You seemed to come out of some or all of those unscathed and on top.
Being a manager, as intimidating as it may sound in your own head, is not out of your league. You’ve proven yourself to yourself before, and there is no reason you cannot do that again.
Make yourself uncomfortable
There is a direct correlation between being uncomfortable and motivation. It is easy to remain comfortable. Being comfortable is safe. It’s like hiding under a cover of trees in the middle of a rainstorm. You may stay dry for a while but eventually you’ll have to dash through the rain and mud to find that clearing in the sky.
There is nothing wrong with being safe, but within that safety you’ll hinder, if not a halt of your ability to learn, grow and become the better self you know you’re capable of being. As you begin your excursion into the world of managing, learn as much as you can from others in similar or higher roles. Read, take courses, and ask questions—even ones you think might be silly.
However, even with all the knowledge or tips you can gather, there is no substituting accomplishment. So, stand tall and simply do the things you’ve never done. Lead a well prepared meeting, give constructive feedback, give praise, and offer advice. Don’t expect to be spot on at any of these at first shot, the chances of that are slim.
Most experts now agree with Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson’s "10,000-Hour Rule.” It takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. But, through practice, your abilities will shine and improvement will come. That is, until you have to do the next thing that makes you uncomfortable (smile).
Set goals for yourself
A few tangible things you can do to ease the anxieties of your new role are: organize, coordinate, and act. Think of yourself as an executive—it’s time to execute.
You’ll have project goals for your team to execute, determined by your team’s role in the organization. If you don’t know the five phases of project planning, save yourself years of grief and learn them. Consider former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s advice: “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.
Create goals for yourself from a more internal angle. Identify your strengths as a leader presently and create a list of what you would like to improve upon. Typically these improvements can be applicable to both your professional and personal life. Personal growth can lead to professional growth and vice-versa.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
It can be a bit delicate towing the line between being a manager and an active part of your team, but both are attainable. Although you may be in a new position and perhaps in a new office, this doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself.
You are not expected to know everything and do everything individuals in your team can. The days of “I’d never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” are over. You are a manager of people and projects. Most of those people have narrow and deep knowledge you are not expected to have.
Take advantage of their expertise and laugh at yourself when you trip over knowledge you erroneously thought you had. To put it simply, be friendly, be natural, and be yourself. Enjoy yourself, your continued growth, and your new role as a manager.