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Promoted … and feeling like an imposter

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in Admins,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management

You've just been promoted over your peers to team leader or maybe even office manager. You’re thrilled, but the shift is “like an earthquake.” Suddenly thrust into the spotlight isn’t something that most admins relish, says career coach Marie McIntyre (www.yourofficecoach.com).

“One day you’re a peer and the next day you’re responsible for directing performance. You feel like an imposter,” she says, “which is why it’s called the ‘imposter syndrome.’”

Here’s how to adjust:

Recognize that things have changed. “People will screen what they say to you,” says McIntyre. “You may be used to going out to lunch and griping about the boss. Now you are the boss.” Others will interpret your actions, so you’ll have to examine and adjust them as needed.

Hold a transition meeting in a formal setting. It will help clear any uncomfortable feelings and allow you to step into your new role. “You can acknowledge that it’s going to be an uncomfortable change for you, but don’t try to level the field by saying, ‘I can’t imagine why they promoted me,’” advises McIntyre. “Try to act comfortable in the role, even if you’re not.”

Instead, say, “Here’s the kind of supervisor I want to be. Here’s what my expectations are—be at work on time, etc.—and this is the kind of department I want us to have. I know that things can’t be the same, but I still want us to communicate.”

Sit down one-on-one with those you manage. Find out how they view their jobs and exactly what they do. “You can work side-by-side with someone and never really know,” says McIntyre. Ask about the challenges and concerns of their jobs.

Then let them know what you expect and what drives you nuts. “Even if they know you,” says McIntyre, “they need time to assess what you’ll be like as a boss. So tell them up front.”

If you have a strong friendship with someone in the group, you may have to say, “Lee, I treasure our friendship, but our daily lunches might seem awkward now. Let’s scale back to one lunch a week.”

Repeat as necessary. “If you sense that someone really is resentful, have another one-on-one,” says McIntyre. “Say, ‘I get the feeling that you’re not comfortable with our new relationship.’”

Remember: Your goal as a supervisor is to make everyone successful and create a climate where people want to do their best, utilize resources, resolve problems and address concerns.

So have a conversation to find out how, in this person’s view, you can do that.

“Once they realize that you really want to help them succeed,” says McIntyre, “that often does the trick.”

Learn about being a manager. “My web site posts a page on being a better manager,” says McIntyre. “You can also channel a good boss you once had. That’s helpful when you’re in the ‘imposter’ phase. I remember the staff meeting I held in my first management job. I’d had a manager named Bill, and I pretended I was Bill for the staff meeting.”

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