The transition from top performer to manager creates unexpected challenges for both the individual and the team.
The role will change, but often overlooked is the requirement of new skills that were simply not part of the prior role.
A competent “performer” is qualified to make and fulfill promises as an individual.
A competent “manager” is qualified to make and fulfill promises to a team.
With over three decades of teaching, consulting, and coaching in organizations, we have identified vital learning to support the successful transition from top performer to manager.
Barriers to Success
Here’s a list of some common failures people make after being promoted:
- You Can’t Do the New Job With Old Practices.
If you try to do the manager job in the same way as the great performer, you will likely fail because you cannot conduct the orchestra from the first violinist’s chair. You need to look at interactions and commitment differently.
- It’s Not About Giving Orders and Directions.
Orders and directions are about getting compliance rather than building a team. Instead, you need to create ownership and commitment through different conversations than you could have as a top performer.
- It’s Not About Doing More.
The essential skill of management is about coordinating the efforts of a team. Poor coordination produces waste and frustration. Effective coordination comes from knowing and having the right conversations to declare and fulfill a team’s commitments.
- Breakdowns Are Unavoidable.
Identifying and resolving breakdowns, particularly issues with people, is a crucial part of management. Failing to address breakdowns will tear down a team. Dealing with them well is a source of learning and team development. This, too, is part of a new set of conversations.
- Your Comfort Zone Gets In The Way.
Rather than avoiding discomfort, you have to respond appropriately to it in a variety of new circumstances. You will now have to say ‘no’ to former peers’ requests, hold people accountable, declare and manage breakdowns.
- You Are No Longer the Expert.
You may have been promoted based on your expertise, but management is a new role with new expectations and practices that you may be less familiar with. Your success or failure depends on other people more than it has before. The only way to win is through the help (and guidance) of those reporting to you. It’s only through your team that you will come to know what is required, and that may require you to learn new skills in order to serve them well. Welcome to the world of the beginner.