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Don’t confuse feedback with criticism

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “A few months after I became a supervisor, my manager “wrote me up” because of conflicts with my employees. These people used to be my peers, and they were upset when I was promoted. Since then, my boss and I have bumped heads over several other issues. She says I can’t take feedback, which is true. I’m currently working on that, because I really want to succeed in this job. Before my promotion, I was regarded as an outstanding performer. I still have the same strong work ethic, and I’m always looking for new ways to be the best. However, I feel that management now doubts my abilities. I would like to be considered for future opportunities, but I don’t know if anyone will trust me to handle more responsibility. How do I recover from these recent setbacks?”  Former Superstar

Answer: Most new supervisors struggle at first. After being promoted, they quickly discover that management is a completely different type of work, requiring a brand new set of skills. This transition is especially tough for high achievers, who have grown accustomed to uninterrupted success.  

To restore your reputation, you must shift your focus from personal achievement to group accomplishments.  Although you may be a hard worker, that won’t count for much unless you can also motivate your employees to produce outstanding results. No one is born with the ability to manage people, so you need to start educating yourself. Find a workshop on supervisory skills and get permission to attend. Identify talented managers, solicit their advice, and use them as role models.  

Finally, stop regarding your boss’s comments as criticism. Her job is to help you adapt to this new role, so don’t get defensive when she offers suggestions. If greater responsibility is your goal, then you need to show that you can accept constructive feedback.

If you're a new manager, or about to become one, here are some suggestions for success: Twelve Tips for New Managers.

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