When climbing up the ladder of management, it pays to consider how each level differs from the previous one. Managing the on-the-ground employees is much different from managing their managers, and so on as you continue to move up. However, that initial transition is really the biggest difference, as managing employees who are responsible solely for themselves is much different than managing other managers. The following are the biggest points to note when moving into a higher level of management.
As a supervisor or low-level manager, there are likely things that you cannot tell your employees as soon as you find out about them. This may be because the ideas are not fully fleshed out, or they need to be rolled out strategically across the team. While this does not completely go away when managing managers, there is less of a risk in talking to them about new information. In fact, it may be encouraged to communicate much earlier about these projects.
When you’re a manager who oversees non-management, you might have checks in place to ensure your employees are doing quality work in a timely manner. Although this doesn’t change when you supervise managers, it can become different. You may need to check on work less often, and instead, might want to spend that time coaching them on being better managers. If you cannot trust your team, they probably shouldn’t be managers, so don’t be afraid to take your eyes off of them for a little longer.
When you are managing other leaders, it is inevitable that they will come to you with a mistake. Be prepared, because mistakes made by managers can have more of an effect on the team at large. In fact, an inappropriate joke or some unintentional favoritism can cause serious issues that could go to HR. Do your best to coach your staff on what is and is not acceptable behavior from a manager, but also, help them to feel comfortable with coming to you after making a mistake. Teach them to recognize the consequences of their actions, so that they can stop bad or misguided behavior before it starts. And again, be open-minded enough to listen to them, so that they can learn from the small mistakes and avoid larger ones.
There is no one guide that can prepare you for becoming a manager. There is even less that prepares people to move from managing general staff to managing leaders in the company. Even if it is significantly different, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for help when it’s needed.