Moving into management...

jmeb

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Got the call yesterday morning from the head of the office. A few logistics to work out (like how to not lose tons of ski days), but I've as good as accepted.

While I've been leading projects and coordinating teams for a few years now, this will be the first supervisory role of full-time professional staff. Five direct reports, most of which have been my peers for the last 1-4 years. As if the peer-to-manager transition wasn't difficult enough, four of us applied for this gig.

So -- what'd you mess up in your transition to management? Or what have you seen/experienced being successful? Helpful training, mentoring or reading you encountered? Wisdom beyond take a breath, listen, and don't be an asshole?
 
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crgildart

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Congrats, I'm in the same boat. This time last year (near company fiscal year end) I was told in no uncertain terms to stop providing my stakeholders with the custom reports my steadily downsized team provided because that reporting was being migrated to a new platform our stakeholders hated. So, this time last year I sat around with almost nothing to do, did still provide similar reporting to company directors who also didn't like the new platform. Sat there twiddling my thumbs and taking a paycheck with the heads up that we were going to be out of work in a month while a bunch of new hires and a few of my former stakeholders were in new year readiness planning sessions. Laid off in September, took a long break I really needed. Hired back under a different vendor but supporting the same client needs in December. So, tomorrow and all week I'm on the inside of the FY2020 planning meetings as a senior analyst and essentially a high visibility project manager doing what we told them last year they should be doing to fix the new platform and greatly increase support and adoption for it company wide. Also no longer a contractor, full time, full benefits employee at vendor and highly respected among client stakeholders in new role.

My advice is don't say "no" to the stakeholders even when you know that is probably the correct answer. Redirect, stall some so they can better digest the situation with a little good, tactful communication. Also, never take "no" from the team members supporting your project. Gotta overcome their objections too. Ask them for alternatives instead of nothing when the ask isn't seen as reasonable or doable within the current timeline according to those closer to the details.

Work on public speaking too if you're even a little bit sketchy. I'm now active in a Toastmasters club, but was kind of forced in to it by my vendor program manager. They want EVERYONE doing it, And, I have to agree it has helped me tremendously in the short time I've started doing that. Sounding confident, entertaining, and reputable when speaking in or leading meetings is way more important than being perfect with regard to deliverables.
 

crgildart

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P. S. on topic.. Ya, the days of being able to log in to data systems at 5:30 am and crank out all the deliverables then logging off early.. or vice versa... taking the morning off to chase a storm then working 2pm til 10pm to fulfill the required time are getting replaced by back to back meetings during east coast, west coast, and some overseas late night required meetings. Gotta do what we gotta do to put 2 kids through college. When the nest empties, there will be more time and funds to spend skiing weekdays.
 

Bill Talbot

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Why would you do this?!
Those that can do, those that can't manage those who can do it without them...
 

Ken_R

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Got the call yesterday morning from the head of the office. A few logistics to work out (like how to not lose tons of ski days), but I've as good as accepted.

While I've been leading projects and coordinating teams for a few years now, this will be the first supervisory role of full-time professional staff. Five direct reports, most of which have been my peers for the last 1-4 years. As if the peer-to-manager transition wasn't difficult enough, four of us applied for this gig.

So -- what'd you mess up in your transition to management? Or what have you seen/experienced being successful? Helpful training, mentoring or reading you encountered? Wisdom beyond take a breath, listen, and don't be an asshole?
Oh man. That is a tough one.

I would have to talk to you in person over a few beers. :huh: :ogcool:

It helps if one actually knows how to, is competent at and appreciates what everyone does (the people you are managing). Being consistent and fair is key.

Dealing with someone who actually applied for the job you got but didnt get it and is stuck is really tough though.
 
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jmeb

jmeb

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@Ken_R -- those beers can happen soon. Next few weeks is gonna be a ton of work. It is a tough one.

As a researcher by nature and profession I'm trying to cast as wide a net as I can for guidance right now.
 

scott43

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Don't be a hero. Don't micromanage. Don't tell people what to do, tell them where you're going and ask how theyd like to help. The others didn't get the job for a reason. Unless they're complete assholes they'll come around. Sometimes you have to say no. Sometimes the corporation is wrong and you have to go to bat for your folks. Choose wisely. Communicate a lot but don't communicate everything. Money doesn't necessarily make people happy but good interesting work does.

If you're right for the job it'll go well don't worry. You can make a difference and it's your responsibility now to do so. Congrats!
 

Sibhusky

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Tough question. I managed people most of my working career. It can be very draining emotionally at first. My daughter is certainly going through that phase right now. All I can suggest is, it's better to give a small correction immediately than wait until you're really pissed and come down all over someone. And even when it is personal, pretend at least to treat it as a professional issue. Frame discussions from an "impact on the team" or business perspective. Also, figure out how to regularly reward people, even if it's just a monthly T-shirt for whatever. Not a participation shirt. Something measurable. It's surprising how knowing you're watching motivates people. Towards the end of my career, I was the sole remaining manager of over 100 direct reports. The other managers got laid off or retired and as that happened I was left with all their people. I had four offices and commuted around the state.
 

Steve

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My favorite 7 words as a manager are “I don’t know, what do you think?”
 

T-Square

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Congratulations.

Piece of useless advice; it is far easier to change a no to a yes than a yes to a no.
 
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jmeb

jmeb

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You were demoted to management? Sorry. :nono:ogwink
Something I thought a long time about. Ultimately I want to make the most positive social impact I can. In the particular institution I'm in and my skill set, that means empowering lots of people with great technical skills rather than just being an individual contributor.
 
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EricG

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@jmeb - in 2013 I was in a similar situation. I was part of a 8 person team and was promoted to manager about a year after starting with that team. Several of the team also applied for the position. It will change you relationship with some of the people, just no way around it.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is: don’t change who you are. The demands on you will change, but you are still part of the team and responsible for its success.

I’ve since walked away from management and only work 3-4 days a week and my wife is able to stay home with our toddlers. While I miss the $$, I am much happier spending time at home raising my family.
 

Sibhusky

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I think the frustrating part is the amount of your time that gets eaten up by politics and corporate bullshit. There's really no escaping it. My daughter is in a start-up and going through the same crap I went through in various huge corporations. And the ubiquity of being reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week anymore makes it worse than ever. At least years ago when I went on vacation to some foreign country I could truly say there was no way I could attend some damn conference call scheduled at 5 AM.
 

mdf

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My only advise is to take managing seriously, and realize that above a certain number managing is a full time job, not something you mix in with "your own work." Back in the 80's, when they were in their glory, IBM used to say the cutoff was 7 people reporting to you.

I was a boss for about 5 years, but I never took it seriously enough. Fortunately I was respected enough that I was able to go back to being an "individual contributor" for about 20 years. But recently our business has picked up and I was told in no uncertain terms, "you need help." So now I have two people working for me (although I'm not their supervisor of record, so don't have to worry about time cards and compliance training and....only their actual work). I'll try to do a better job this time around.
 

VickieH

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Way too far into my time as an IT manager for the federal govt, I stumbled upon a course in supervisory stuff that covered disciplinary actions. There is guidance on what to do for 1st offense, repeat offenses, as well as what constitutes a conduct problem vs a performance problem. A person repeatedly failing to turn in a status report is conduct, not performance. And their conduct hampers your ability to manage the work as well as your team's effectiveness. (In the fed world, it is rarely feasible to fire someone over performance issues. For conduct, it can be "3 strikes, you're out".)

It's good to be familiar with this stuff in advance. It helps you avoid letting things go on for too long, then try to take strong action and find out you can't. Most everything you will run into has already been HR-tested, sometimes court-tested. HR is your friend ... use them.
 

SugarCube

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Be fair but realize that being fair doesn't mean treating everyone exactly the same. If you can do this, you're better than most.

Congrats on your promotion, and PM sent.
 

surfsnowgirl

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Congratulations and good luck. My only advice is everyone is different so people need to be treated differently sometimes, don't micromanage and really try to maintain a personable demeanor. I'm not saying you are or aren't any of those things already. I also have no desire to manage but this is just what I've seen work in the the corporate land environments I've been in.
 
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