Elizabeth Arnott, SPHR
Promoted Too Soon: How to Overcome Inexperience and Become a Great Manager
Defensive responses when you get feedback. Feeling overwhelmed. Frustration when your team asks you questions that you don't know the answers to. Feeling like people are trying to prove you wrong. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may have been promoted to management before you were quite ready to take on this critical role. But don't worry! You can overcome premature promotion by proactively addressing your own performance.
1. Stop trying to prove yourself.
If you got the promotion, you've already proved yourself. Stop trying to show everyone that you know what you are doing, because it ends up looking like you are really insecure, which is the opposite of what you want.
2. Take every opportunity to learn.
Learn from every situation. Keep a notebook and write down the things you learn every day, whether it's about the business, managing people, or academic knowledge. Review what you've learned at the end of every week. Read everything you can about managing and leading.
3. Realize that it's okay not to know everything.
There's a false perception that managers have to know everything. On the contrary, a great manager knows when to ask for help or research an answer. Don't make stuff up. If someone asks you a question that you don't know, say "I'm not sure what the answer is, but I will find out and get back to you." Then follow through. Showing that you know where to find answers instills more confidence in you.
4. Be open to feedback - It's a gift.
Feedback is going to happen when you are a manager - often not when you are expecting it. If an employee or anyone else gives you feedback on your managerial style, say thank you! They are giving you information that you can use to improve. That's a gift!
5. Admit your mistakes.
A manager that can't admit when they are wrong is a manager that is resented and not respected. It can be hard to admit to your team that you've made a mistake, but the trust you build by being vulnerable is irreplaceable. You're human. You make mistakes like everyone else does. Your team already knows that. Admitting you made a mistake shows your humility. When you do that, your team will be more likely to approach you with their own mistakes so that you can help them solve problems. That's your job, after all!
Now go forth and lead. You got this.