Ways to Transition from Worker to Management

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businessman in suit standing on word Management “Leveling up” your career path from detail-oriented worker bee to leader can mean many things— some good, some confusing, and some frightening. Initially, a manager title means an increased salary, a new boss, a new workspace, and new authority. But it also means a shift in your duties and responsibilities. Where once you were focused on the details of your work, now your job requires you to let those work habits go and embrace your position of leadership to responsibly grow your organization by positioning your team to bolster the bottom line.

And while there are many potential screw ups a new manager can make perhaps the most egregious is being unwilling or unable to fully transition to a higher level of operation. Most of the time this means spending too much time working on prior tasks and not enough time spent leading and growing a team. This inability to properly transition can lead to several distinct management problems, including:

• Competing against subordinates

• Overworking teams for unreachable amounts of detail

• Creating underperforming teams out of a fear of being professionally threatened

• Failing to develop a team’s capacity to perform more work

The transition can be particularly painful because new managers are no longer doing that work that they have spent years mastering. But by shifting mindsets from the idea of working within a business to one of working on a business can help neophyte leaders focus more on thinking and delegating and less time doing their old jobs. Steps to improve early leadership performance can include:

• Constructing an overall team strategy that highlights the role of the team within a business and drives the team forward

• Fine tuning individual workloads so that each team member is working on what they do best and on tasks that are the highest priority

• Establishing and maintaining alignment between team and management

• Identifying workers and areas that require further development, changes, or training and making the necessary talent upgrades

• Getting a well-rounded understanding of what is getting done through diligent tracking and execution of necessary work through streamlined team frameworks

• Assisting team members in developing leadership capabilities through a continuous learning process

• Regularly reducing the costs of daily activities to save resources for developing new and better approaches

• Improving communication channels and work relationships within the team and within the larger organization

• Seeking out a senior-level mentor who can guide and advise on appropriate topics

Transitioning to a management position should quickly be found to be enjoyable work; at least as enjoyable as any prior responsibilities. But if not, or if the transition has yet to occur, it is important to consider whether the demands of management are preferable to the tasks already performed. Remaining an individual contributor is perfectly acceptable and not all people should necessarily seek to move beyond the work that they love. Management is largely a matter of personal preference and should always be seriously considered before hastily accepting a new position.


By Joshua Bjerke