How to Transition From Worker Bee to Management

How to Transition From Worker Bee to Management

Upward mobility is a major selling point for candidates, especially for those who aspire to work in a management role. However, shifting from worker bee to management isn’t always easy. The transition can be fraught with obstacles, juggling not only the new tasks that need to be accomplished, but also overseeing the very people that were once your equals. It’s part of the reason that approximately 60 percent of managers say the stresses associated with being promoted to management are on par with going through a divorce.

With the right mindset and expectations, the transition from employee to manager can go more smoothly. Here’s how:

1. Avoid overestimating your newfound authority

Playing the role of manager is a delicate balance. You have more responsibility, so your directives need to be followed, but you also don’t want to cast an impression of superiority, which can result in resentment. You can walk this fine line by being a “servant leader.” A term coined by Robert Greenleaf, servant leadership is exhibited when individuals seek to serve others first and foremost, which can inspire employees to adopt the same approach. In short, servant leaders focus on the growth and professional well-being of the people they supervise.

2. Differentiate between personal and professional 

You may want your relationship with co-workers to remain exactly the same despite your promotion. That can be the case at the personal level, but not at the professional. Workers now answer to you. The faster you realize and accept this, the easier the transition should be for everyone involved.

3. Proactively speak to co-workers about the transition

Let’s say you started at a company at the same time as a co-worker with whom you’re friendly. Having to go to you for assignments may be awkward in the beginning. If you sense something is different between the two of you, see if you can talk to him or her in a one-on-one setting, Forbes advised. Alternatively, you may want to take a more proactive approach by having a conversation up front to set expectations about your new work relationship and also ensure there are no hard feelings. It’s only natural that some colleagues might feel disappointment or even jealousy if they’ve been hoping for a promotion, especially if he or she was vying for the same job title as you. Getting everything out into the open helps establish a management style that prioritizes relationships with employees on an individual basis, which can help you foster trust and strong engagement over time.

4. Rely on management mentors

Managers, like employees, typically come in groups. These colleagues have more experience under their belt for how to adapt to the new job title. If you have questions or feel ill at ease making the switch, talk to them to see how they handled it and take advantage of those occasions when they offer to help. In short, look for a mentor who you can rely on to provide sage advice.

5. Prioritize communication

Sometimes work can fall between the cracks for any number of reasons, but chief among them is poor communication. If there’s a specific task that needs to be completed, make it clear to the people you assign what’s expected and the due dates for specific projects. You can do this by asking if they have any questions regarding the instructions and following up. For projects that have several moving parts, or may take place over a long length of time, it can be helpful to create dashboards or calendars, to track when various tasks are due and the contributor(s) that are responsible for completing these them.

Every job title comes with its pros and cons, whether at the associate or managerial level. By acknowledging this and the inherent transitions that accompany a more prominent job title, you should be able to handle the shift more seamlessly.