Leadership Transitions Can Be More Challenging Than Anticipated

Challenging TransitionsPicture This…

Your reputation as a hard working manager had you designated a high performer at talent review meetings. In the year end reorganization, you accepted a director position with a wider scope of responsibility.

A few differences between your managerial role and your director role were:

  • Increased technical skill
  • Reports that have more technical skill than you do
  • More cross functional responsibilities

After eight months, you realize it hasn’t been easy transitioning from manager to director. A number of things have not gone well, and a recent discussion with your leader indicates the problems are noticeable to others. You’re wondering what damage this will do to your reputation.

What did you miss?

When assigned a new role, it’s important that expectations be clear. It’s important to determine:

  • What is and isn’t included in your responsibilities?
  • How much development and coaching will you receive from your leader?
  • What are your accountabilities?
  • Which relationships are crucial and are they functional or strategic?
  • The current level of effectiveness for each relationship and where it needs to be eventually?
  • What technical areas will you need to develop?

What’s familiar is guaranteed to shift

While the increased status and compensation are something to look forward to, that’s minor considering the expectations of a director. Here are some things that will shift when transitioning into a new role

  1. There will be more relationships to manage, upward, downward and outward.
  2. Your relationship skills will be challenged, and what you do and don’t do during the first two months will set the stage for how each relationship evolves.
  3. Reports, peers and management will look to you for guidance. Possibly questions you hadn’t even considered. You will require agility to gain the knowledge required in order to give appropriate direction.
  4. More meetings than envisioned.
  5. Tough discussions as business unit leaders compete for fewer resources.
  6. Complexity will increase leading to increased conflict and disagreements.
  7. You will be busier, and it will take time away from personal commitments.

What to pay attention to when transitioning

Acknowledge that the new demands will affect personal commitments. Identify your priorities and stick to them. Figure out what you will do when you cannot stick to a personal priority.

Throwing more time at your responsibilities is expected for an interim period but not ideal as a long term strategy. Solicit feedback from leaders and colleagues to determine what your interim period is likely to involve and set a realistic timeline and be prepared to extend it if necessary.

Relationship building may not be your strength however you will be required to forge strong working relationships to keep moving the business forward. You may be more interested in the technical aspects than the people however at director level without strong people skills your effectiveness and execution will suffer.

Endless demands will create new levels of pressure. Determine where you go under pressure and what you need to do to manage pressure in appropriate ways. Something said in the heat of the moment can undo weeks of relationship building. Or not passing along information to others who are affected by something could have serious implications for another business unit.

Learn more about your organization’s management code of conduct. Become familiar with these expectations and watch how peer directors and executives handle themselves. Respect will no doubt be one of the expected leadership behaviors, but you can expect to be criticized when things don’t meet others expectations.

Conflict, criticism and collaboration will increase, and you need to be self-aware how far out of your comfort zone these expectations will take you.

Role transitions are a roller coaster ride.

Learn from other people’s experience they can help you anticipate the expected and unexpected. Planning your way through a transition can help you keep your reputation intact.

When you last changed roles did you miss anything?

The next time you change roles, what will you do differently?

Photo credits:  Deposit Photos




Comments are closed.