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Applying for a manager position

By Joan Lloyd

Dear Joan:
I am applying for a manager position. Up to now, I have had non-managerial positions. People tell me I do an excellent job and get along with everyone.
 
What more of a company perspective does a manager have to consider?  What should I clarify about it? It is a new position. Thank you.   Really appreciate your expertise.
 
Answer:
Moving from individual contributor to manager is like moving from babysitter to parent. Your entire perspective changes. Rather than being concerned with your own performance, you are responsible for the performance of the individuals in your department, your own performance, the company’s performance and the company’s reputation in the world outside.
 
Let’s take a sharper look at each of these categories:
 
Your employees’ performance:
New managers often get tripped up here. They are so used to doing the job themselves; it takes awhile to learn how to get the work done through other people. They tend to be too buddy-buddy, heavy-handed, or micro-manage their employees’ actions. Instead, they need to learn how to clarify the desired outcomes and get out of the way.
 
A great performer like you can get very frustrated if an employee doesn’t perform up to the standards you set. Rather than nudging the employee aside and doing it for her, giving feedback and coaching to get the desired results become the primary skills you draw upon.
 
And the real test is when an employee’s performance isn’t up to standards or their behavior is getting in the way. Being able to confront issues directly and openly, without shattering the person’s self-esteem, is the toughest part.
 
Your own performance:
You will be measured on how well you manage projects within and across departments;
communicate with upper management; manage the budget and collaborate with your peers, to name a few new categories. Depending upon the position, you may be expected to do technical work, as well as strategic work. Leadership skills will be a large part of your performance appraisal.
 
Some people discover that they enjoy doing their own work more than they like managing the work of others. The higher up the ladder you go, the farther away you get from the technical/project work and move to the 3 P’s: managing people, politics and peers. As a first line manager, you will probably be expected to be a leader and a doer.
 
Company’s performance:
The higher you go in a company, the more likely your compensation will be tied to the bottom line. Many companies give their managers a bonus that is determined, in part, by company results. So even if you had a stellar year, your bonus could be weighed down by other factors.
 
As a manager you need to think like the “owner” of the entire business. Every decision should be made with other departments in mind. Managers who wall their department off from the rest of the company tend to get embroiled in turf wars and finger pointing rather than operating from the perspective of, “What’s right for the company?” This big picture view develops over time, as you learn more about how the company works.
 
One of the biggest changes new managers notice is the amount of time they spend in meetings. Rather than complain about it, realize that meetings (good ones, at least) are where the big picture is developed. They are the bridge of the ship, where direction is set and the steering is done.
 
Company reputation:
As a manager you represent the company, both inside and outside the walls. You are expected to set a good moral example, demonstrate a good work ethic, keep confidences, attend industry events, and show up for the summer picnic.
 
When you open your mouth to any vendor, colleague or neighbor you are the company speaking.
 
Does it sound like something you’re up for? It is a lot of responsibility but if this lofty list sounds like a noble challenge—instead of an intimidating nightmare—managing sounds right for you. Good luck!