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The Challenges of Becoming a New Manager Among Old Peers

Leadership
New Manager

22 April, 2022

Neha Saha

Neha Saha

Manager, Software Development Engineering at Workday

Neha Saha, Manager, Software Development Engineering at Workday, illustrates the challenges of obtaining a position in management with no prior experience and the confidence it takes in order to succeed.

Obtaining New Management Positions with No Experience

It is interesting to see the development in dynamic once you obtain a management position. Especially when you are now managing a team of your former colleagues, who know your past role, and whether or not you have the experience. This happened to me. I ended up obtaining a position as a new manager, with no prior formal experience, and I had no idea how this would go over with my peers.

It was obvious that I was hired internally for the position and that anyone who knew me, knew this was my very first time in this role. I assumed it would be discouraging, and challenging, and although it took some rightful effort on my part, it is not something to fear. I think it is important to encourage new managers to believe in themselves, and to find strategies that bring you closer to your team to dissolve apprehension or doubt.

You are the one who sets the narrative.

The Importance of Gaining Respect From Your Team

It seemed like a much larger challenge at the time -- wondering at first how I could gain respect from my team and those who posed doubts onto me. There were fears that were definitely guiding my next plan for action.

Gaining trust, respect, and avoiding issues was my main concern at the time in order to continue the team dynamic, while also improving it for the future of our work culture. I think internally it kind of intimidated me thinking that it was going to be something that might not end positively.

With these new challenges in mind, I knew I had to do something about it, and not allow it to escalate beyond just my own worries.

How to Encourage Your Team and Create Connection

When you have doubts, it is important to make a plan to dispel those doubts. It is all about how you are actionable and intentional. This combination is a recipe for your desired outcomes. Those ingredients are what help create connection to your team.

So I made it a point to actively seek to create understanding within my team. Weekly 1-1s were hugely important to me to be able to hear about obstacles, receive feedback, and to speak with individual contributors on where they were at. I had to literally build trust as if I was building something in the physical world: foundation first, and then brick-by-brick.

I sought to get to know people and to find out what they were looking for; especially in regards to a leader. It was vital that I was a good listener to gain others' trust and confidence in me that I was there for my team. One thing I did not want to do was obtain some sort of management position and begin imposing changes right away. I took it slow, and started from the ground up with my team.

You Are the Driver of Your Own Outcomes

This was definitely a transformational experience. In the end, I realized that it is up to you to be the driver of your own outcomes. In regards to fear and worries, you are the only one responsible for managing that scenario and creating an environment that is void of that. It is not easy, but with intention and action I believe you can help initiate connection and gain trust from your peers to be a good leader.

I recommend imagining yourself in someone else's shoes. Then identify what worries or concerns may be inevitable. The awareness necessary to be a good manager and take on a new position is essential when it is within the same company or organization.

  • In order to instill confidence in your team, you need to have confidence in yourself. There will be uncertainty and doubt, along with a laundry list of things that are based out of fear for the unknown. I think my best advice is to open your perspective, and tackle new management positions humbly. You will be surprised how well your team will support you when you support them by offering connections.

  • Look to transform relationships. If you are worried you will have trouble leading without prior experience, try to get feedback in order to transform previous relationships into a new, strong foundation.

  • Accept the challenges. Expect that there will be challenges when being brand new in a management role. Don't fight the current, but seize the opportunity to grow and create trust that will last beyond what you would imagine. There is a human element to consider when entering a position of leadership. Yes you have the skill to succeed, but if you don't connect with your team and the people who compose it, you won't get very far. This is the kind of foresight I had when entering this role, and thus wanted to build upon that to create an environment that could be built on trust.

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