In recent weeks, I’ve shared tips and strategies on how to overcome challenges as a new manager.
But what do they look like in action?
Today, I want to share a real-life case study with you. It highlights how one of my clients successfully implemented the strategies, navigated the obstacles in front of her, and ended up thriving in her role.
I’d like you to meet Emily.
When I first met Emily, she was working as a Financial Analyst at a family-owned commercial real estate firm.
The business was looking to expand, so Emily’s main job, as part of a 4-strong acquisition team, was to analyze the numbers behind each potential deal.
Emily’s job was meticulous – she would pore over each detail to make sure the deal was right for the business.
Her attention to detail and her impressive analytical skills had caught the eye of the CEO. They were creating a new department and wanted to promote Emily into a management role.
Apprehension around promotion and coaching
It was a big change – she’d be responsible for four Client Service Managers who looked after 6-8 accounts each. But it wasn’t just that – the job would be less technical and more hands-on with customers, which Emily wasn’t used to.
The CEO had offered to pay for executive coaching to help her overcome her concerns. Emily appreciated the gesture but it added to her worries. In her last job, coaching was for the poor performers and usually the last resort before they were fired.
The CEO reassured Emily that it was quite the opposite. They prioritized leadership development and often hired executive coaches to unlock potential. Once Emily agreed, they turned to me, and it was at this point that our journey began.
My approach in helping Emily reach her goal
In our initial discussions, I outlined my role and approach in helping Emily transition into management.
We spoke about enhancing communication skills. Looking beyond the immediate circumstances, reactions, and emotions. Taking a step back to see the bigger picture.
We spoke about ways to make informed decisions, such as the RACI model – Who is Responsible? Who is Accountable? Who needs to be Consulted? And who needs to be Informed?
We also considered the importance of:
- Understanding the business on a deeper level
- Removing the ‘here and now’ mindset to allow for a learning period
- Fostering an environment of curiosity by asking questions
- Avoiding constant references to how her previous employers did things
- Earning her colleagues’ trust by cultivating better relationships
Seeing Emily take these things on board and blossom into her new role was truly fulfilling.
But the challenges were only just beginning.
What follows are two more scenarios that Emily found difficult to deal with. Let’s see what they were, how we overcame them together, and what you can do if they sound familiar!
Challenge 1: Insecurities
Moving into a management role when you’ve spent most of your career as an individual contributor can be daunting. It can stir up self-doubt and insecurities. Which is exactly what happened with Emily.
Soon after starting her new role, Emily discovered that she was younger than one of her team members. This individual had been there since the company was founded. Oh, and they wanted Emily’s job – but didn’t get it!
Emily felt out of her comfort zone but she knew she had to figure out how to work with her. So she struck up a conversation, where Emily acknowledged that she was newer to the company, younger than this employee, and wanted to learn from her.
But she found it hard to read their reaction. It left her feeling awkward and struggling to assert expectations.
Challenge 2: Responsibilities
Emily knew that taking on a management role would be more demanding. But she didn’t appreciate how much. The phone calls, emails, and meetings felt relentless. It seemed that the business was involving her in everything, but why? She wondered what the launch of the company’s new inventory management system or the marketing department’s new product had to do with her.
Emily quickly became overwhelmed and needed clarity around her responsibilities.
How I guided Emily through these challenges
When Emily and I first started working together, we discussed the potential obstacles she might face and set out a 90-day plan to prepare her for them.
In our one-to-one sessions, I encouraged her to go beyond her accounting role and:
- Become familiar with the business and develop a “birds-eye view” of the people, processes, and systems
- Learn about the company as a whole
- Understand the business’ strategy, the products and services, the industry, and the competition
- Identify the cultural norms and align with them
By preparing for the challenges, and applying the strategies we’d discussed, Emily became more aware of how her group’s work fit into the larger business and how to frame conversations about their work within the larger context. She realized that her behavior and outlook impacts others. She learned to slow down and to question her assumptions. She became more aware of how her comments and actions impacted others.
The person who wanted her job and didn’t get it? Well, Emily found new opportunities for her within the business. She also continued to work on their relationship, seeking guidance from her whenever possible.
Emily began to see the bigger picture and learn more about how the company operated outside of her role.
Today, Emily thrives in her role. Of course, challenges continue to pop up each day. But Emily now has the skills to navigate them.
How you can win with executive coaching
Can you relate to some (or all) of the challenges Emily faced and the feelings she had towards them?
- You might feel apprehensive about working with executive coaches. Maybe you think the coach will report everything back to the boss. Or that they’re only interested in pushing their own agenda.
- Maybe you’re older than your boss and frustrated that you were overlooked for the promotion. Perhaps that boss is you, so you’re managing employees that are older than you and you’re unsure how to assert your expectations.
- Or are you a new manager within the business, realizing it’s very different from where you’ve worked before and struggling to be heard?
In my 35 years in business, there aren’t many scenarios I haven’t faced. I was the youngest among my peers for many years and then all of a sudden, everyone was younger than me. Problems I’ve had to solve. Challenges I’ve had to overcome.
My ‘1st 90-Day Plan’ is my way of combining all of my experience to help you become a more impactful and empathetic leader. Together, we will:
- Explore the broader system and challenge your assumptions and beliefs
- Encourage self-awareness and understand how you impact others
- Learn how to approach situations from a standing start and plan forward
- Discuss strategies for building trust with your team
- Develop your skills in building meaningful relationships with your colleagues
- Understand how to listen properly – to what is said but also to what is left unspoken
- Shift your perspective from transactional thinking to systemic thinking
When you work with me, I am completely dedicated to your success. I become your unwavering source of confidential talk and support. My agenda is not hidden, it’s in plain sight. It’s this, and only this: to see you flourish and prosper in your professional life.
Whatever professional situation you’re in, I can help. Contact me today for a free consultation.