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Two Key Elements of a New Manager’s Mindset

New Manager
Managing Expectations

27 February, 2021

Amitav Chakravartty, ex-CTO at Vaycayhero, highlights two key elements of a new manager’s mindset -- being in the driving seat and not going with a flow.

Problem

Many new managers, including me in my early days, have no clear understanding of what being a manager entails. Most think of it as a continuation or extension of an IC role and this is the biggest mistake they could make. Becoming a manager requires a person to get disconnected from an IC mindset and break its past modus operandi. I identified two key elements of a new manager’s mindset that should help them become successful in their new role.
 

Actions taken

Being in the driving seat

As a manager, you are not supposed only to follow other people’s instructions, but you should develop a go-ahead approach. A go-head approach goes beyond telling people on your team what they should be working on (and why); it is about strengthening your ability to take the initiative and building confidence to make the right decisions.
 

However, how much you will be in the driving seat is largely a matter of your management style. While most people like their teams to be autonomous, they often overlook that maintaining the team’s autonomy will require your active involvement in safeguarding it. Also, autonomy is not in any conflict with you giving the direction.
 

What helped me understand my agency was keeping a brag document that lists everything I accomplished and learned over a certain period of time. I also track all the mistakes I made and list all the things that I could have done better.
 

Don’t go with the flow

Your new role should include a lot of introspection. You should be able to stop for a moment and reflect if what you are doing is the right thing to do. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask yourself if the team, under your guidance, is going in the right direction. As a new manager, you should be daily questioning your decisions, plans, and ideas. Don’t just deal with problems as they come in; some things are more important than others and you will need to prioritize.
 

When going with the flow, you are dropping too many balls. Most managers tend to focus on what is happening today, failing to reflect on what happened yesterday and how that adds to a bigger picture. Always keep in mind what is the big goal that you are trying to achieve. Also, if something happens, ask yourself if that is an individual case or is there a recurrence or pattern.
 

Keep the list of things you should be working on and identify larger areas to deal with them first. By doing so, you will be closer to a bigger picture that fades as you delve into details of daily work. Don’t focus only on today’s problems; step back and reflect on yesterday’s problems and how all of them are connected.
 

I do my introspection session every Friday but every morning I know which things I will pick up from my bucket. If a new problem pops up, I try to put it in some of the buckets and see if it will make it to my daily agenda.
 

Lessons learned

  • I learn best from my own mistakes. However, making mistakes is one thing, while making the same mistake, again and again, is a problem. A brag document can help you become more cognizant of your past mistakes and help you not repeat them.
  • Being in the driving seat doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t grow leaders on your team. On the contrary, by growing them, you will have someone on a passenger seat to whom you can delegate some work.
  • If you go with the flow, something will bite you back. If you are too busy with the customers’ problems, a technical issue may bite you back or the other way around. You have to be able to identify the most important problems and make them a priority.

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