So you’ve heard and we've all said that the only constant in our world today is change. Change happens in all kinds of ways and at any time and sometimes when you're least ready for it. So how do you handle change when it directly affects you? “You’re the manager, the leader and you’re supposed to know what’s going on. So, how come you were surprised about that change?”, someone not quite in the know might ask you.
Your role as a first-time manager gives you the formal position to manage people and it allows you the chance to perform in such a way that people will allow you to lead them. It does not give you the keys to the castle, or in this case the boardroom.
In the manager role, you will have more information shared with you about what is happening in the company and how it might affect you and your team. You will not be told everything. There will still be things and information that are beyond your role, knowledge and control. We know this intuitively however, I’ve seen more than one occasion when people are surprised when something unexpected happens or is asked of them. It’s kind of like, ready or not, here it comes.
How you see things
An analogy that captures this is your navigation system in your vehicle. Have you ever set a destination, expecting that you kind of knew the route and generally where you were going, only to end up lost at some point, not recognizing anything around you!? In this case the map didn’t match reality. Imagine that your expectations, your map, didn’t match your reality at work. Confusion and a warning, like in the Matrix (an old analogy for some), something changed!
Human beings have a resistance to change that is so strong that unexpected things generally meet one initial reaction - push back. The way you handle disruptive change, especially in the early days of being a manager, can have a profound effect on the way you handle yourself for the rest of your career. The way your handle unexpected change will also have an impact on your team and their perception of how well you can handle yourself - a judgement, yes, that comes with being a manager.
Coming back to your super-self!
Also, you may not give you the luxury and the time to process the changes and react in your best way. This is always a challenge because you have people looking to you for direction, understanding and safety. For a first-time manager the trick is to know that you will get knocked off balance from time to time. The ideal situation is not about never getting knocked off balance because these things are outside of your control. It is, however, about coming back to your super-self in a manner that's calm, collected, resilient and may, with technique and practice, be invisible to your team. Giving them more confidence in you over time!