From “Us” to “Them”: You Got Your Promotion… Now What?
So you were the top salesperson, the top technician, the top IT person, and now management has tapped you to be one of “them.” You are no longer part of the “us” workforce. So do you do anything differently from the things you were doing before the promotion? I certainly hope so, because you now have a totally new role. What I am about to tell you comes from 44 years of practicing employment law, representing large and small companies, and seeing the mistakes new managers make.
What got you the promotion and raise? I bet there was a huge “I” mindset. “I” had the top sales. “I” repaired the most cars/trucks. “I” was the best and smartest IT person. “I” deserve this promotion.
But now you are leading a team. As I say in my book How Not to be a Stupid Manager: you lead people and manage processes. Now you are a leader of your group. No longer a “buddy.” You may have to engage in corrective action, or even terminate a former, fellow co-worker. So change your mindset from “I” to “we.”
Now if you take full credit for what the team does, you will be totally disliked and ineffective. You are no longer the “individual” and must take the spotlight off yourself and share it on your team. Make your team and its members successful and you will bask in reflected light.
So how does this work? First, change from “me” to “we” in your vocabulary. Second, learn skills (like communication/listening) that will help you be a better leader. If you are totally out of your element in your new role, take a seminar on leadership. Remember, you are new at this! Third, be mindful of your appearance. Leaders are not slovenly. Fourth, watch your facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. They can say more than the words you use. Fifth, remember you are no longer a BFF: you’re the “boss.”
One of your biggest challenges will be exercising your authority over your former friends. One way to do this is to set clear expectations from the start. Don’t play favorites with some of your former co-workers because they were drinking buddies. Be fair and consistent. You will earn respect as a leader by showing that everyone is on a level playing field. Also, when you set expectations make them achievable and realistic. No one wants to feel set up for failure.
I feel that one great fallacy in leadership is called the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Again, in my book, I turn that around and believe that you should treat others how they want to be treated. This certainly changes the mindset to a team approach and isn’t using the “I” word again.
Finally, (even though there is a lot more), build, mentor and develop your team. Coaches inherit the former coach’s team. The same is true for you. It is now your job to develop your team. Many people like to train their replacement because only in that way can you move up. If upper management says “we can’t promote Bill/Mary, they are too valuable in that position” then you are stuck. But if you have trained your replacement, then you are valuable to the organization and your team member can move up. It becomes a win/win. But if you create a “silo” around yourself, you may find yourself in it for your entire career with that company.
So now you are the “boss.” Change your thinking and your attitude and you will find the path to being a true leader of your new team.