Hey, Koda!

I just got promoted to a managerial position. That’s a big win, but I’m struggling to find a balance between being friendly with my former peers and asserting my new authority. I’m worried that my team won’t take me seriously or that I’ll come across as too high and mighty.

How can I quickly establish respect, and a professional yet approachable relationship with my team?

Thanks in advance,

Unsure New Manager

Dear Unsure New Manager–

Congratulations on your recent promotion! 

It makes sense to feel uncertain as you navigate your new role as a manager. You obviously want to maintain good relationships with your former colleagues. As you begin this new role, it’s absolutely possible to maintain rapport and also ensure you’re successful in managing them.

I’m going to break down my best tips for any new manager for you. 

Encourage office-appropriate vulnerability in order to build trust. When you share stories of challenge and growth, you create an environment where your team feels safe to open up about their experiences and needs.

Another way to build a strong, secure, collaborative team dynamic is to foster a culture of experimentation. It’s one thing to say it’s okay to fail, but it’s much harder to create an environment and process where failure is expected and applauded. 

One manager I know encourages his direct reports to try their best to “break something”. Another boss I know tells her employees to “take it too far”. Some managers find it easier to correct those who make mistakes while trying than those who avoid experimenting altogether.

Encourage your team to take risks and try new approaches, even if they don’t always work out. By celebrating the process of learning and growth, you’ll create a more supportive and innovative work environment. When your employee knows it’s safer to try and fail than to avoid and evade, there is a whole path of growth open to them. 

As far as accountability goes, remember a few things. First, set very clear expectations and goals for each team member. Everyone should have a crystal clear idea of what success looks like in their role. Knowing the bar they’re expected to clear will help them feel secure in their work. 

It is also your primary responsibility to provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Regularly touch base with each team members to monitor their progress and offer feedback and assistance. You’re there to make sure they’re successful, because as a manager your team’s success is also yours. Praise their wins and give help and support when they fall short.

Lead by example when it comes to accountability. Study the ways your employees respond when you hold them to account for their work. Be transparent about your own goals and progress, and hold yourself to the same high standards that you expect of your team. This will demonstrate your own commitment to the team’s success and create a culture where everyone aims for transparency and responsibility. 

Finally, remember always that leadership is ultimately about serving others. You cannot lead if no one wants to follow you. When you prioritize their success over your own and you’re own with kindness, clarity, and consistency, you’ll build trust, respect, and support among your team members. 

Best of luck in your new role!

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