Did it Happen to You to Blame the Mountain?
Hey 👋 - Alina here.
Happy Thursday to 301 thriving professionals!
Anyone entering a new role in an organisation has a learning curve ahead. We welcome professional advance, move happily in the next position, only to realise there is a mountain in front of us. And it takes us by surprise.
Often, we call this mountain an obstacle, while it is just just a legitimate part of our journey. Instead of concentrating our efforts to find out the best track to the top, we start blaming the mountain for havving appeared out of the blue or blaming us for not having seen it before. And some of us will redraw and quit the journey, too early.
This mountain will appear every time a person advances in a management position or will enter a new career.
Each management role comes with its own mountain: a hill for the team leaders or first line managers, a mild mountain for middle managers, and rocky, tall, sometimes steep picks for C-level positions.
It takes one who has already passed each mountain, to see, assess objectively and acknowledge the relative difference between them. These mountains seem similarly frightening when you sit at their base and contemplate the climb ahead.
In working 1-on-1 with all three levels of managers, I came to realise that many are caught by surprise by the appearance of this mountain once they access the next management role. And I feel for them because I can recall asking myself “how am I going to do it” when I landed my "next" management position.
What I learnt from my experience and from working with managers is there are several common beliefs managers develop knowing they have been the right person to the job in their latest role in the company, and got promoted for it. They all sincerely believe:
- I know everything about my next role, since I have known the company for x years.
- I need just to continue doing the same things, because it gave me success and appreciation in my last role.
- I will for sure be immediately the right person in my next role, since I have been one in my last role.
- I know my strengths and weaknesses since they have been forged on the road to my last job and led me to land this job.
And while they may be right, they are also very wrong.
Think for yourself! The four statements above imply a mindset fundamentally set on the following basic assumptions:
- I know everything in my job (yes, but this job is a new one!!!)
- Nothing can take me by surprise (hmmm, this is what you believe!!!)
- I am safe (most probably yes, but not in the sense you believe!)
- I can relax (NO WAY!)
The truth is we do know everything about our last job, but almost nothing about how the current one feels from inside.
Even though we know the company, our role now is larger, stakeholders are different, the power given to us has changed and we do not know yet to match our inner resources to it. Our mission and role changed within the old environment, and we are Mario v.2 in terms of resources whom was granted access to the challenges of Mario v.3. If ony we would know right away what upgrade to make to our inner resources! But this takes tests and trials.
When we tacitly decide we can relax, our brain shuts down its processing capability to rely on the already installed software.
And this means, we will defer to our automatic way of being, i.e. to our learnt patterns of perceiving, feeling, and associating meaning: to our natural, unabridged and unsupervised way of reaction.
And you will ask me: What can be wrong with that?
Nothing and potentially everything.
Nothing, if your natural way of BEING has good foundations for observing yourself in interaction with situations and with others, and for learning fast the changes you need to integrate in who you are to respond better next time the challenges you have.
Everything (or almost), if your natural way of BEING does not contain YET an appropriate way to observe yourself and to integrate your insights without creating inner resistance and become your own obstacle.
Why does it matter?
Because every such mountain brings a different perspective over REALITY.
From each top (first line manager, middle manager and C-level manager), one will see different things, will have different understandings of what they see, of the meaning of what is happening at organisational and personal level, will have a different range of capabilities to exercise the same strength, will have different approaches to set expectations, will have different perspectives and understandings about what autonomy, safety, self value, forgiveness, acceptance, compromise, commitment, and success mean. And will have a real understanding and appreciation of the effort done by the people climbing the mountains behind, because they already know what took them to get there.
However, irrespective of the mountain these managers managed to climb, they will have a limited view of what is requested to climb the next one. And as I both experienced and saw with my clients, it appears that a period of about 5 years on top of any of these mountains, creates again the sensation of know-it-all, seen-it-all, followed by the mentioned relaxation and by forgetting that transitioning towards the next management position will soon reveal a different mountain ahead.
When I ask managers transitioning from one mountain to the next one, what do they mean when they say this transition takes effort, they mention it is not easy for them to pay attention to so many things around.
It is only when in coaching we sort and put order in “those many things”, it starts to be visible for them the gap between what they were used to operate on and what they need now to handle. And they realise there are in fact only several mindset tweaks they have to work to successfully climb the mountain ahead of them.
This is why I take today time to picture the shift necessary at each management level in my hope managers reading this post create realistic expectations especially for themselves, about what it means to grow while transitioning between top positions.
And to consider coaching as a valuable resource they can have always at hand.
First manager position
|Contribution||from individual contributor to team contribution|
|Focus||from task execution to process performance|
|Communication||from being told to telling others|
|Feedback||from being given to providing|
|Rountines, practices||from task execution is finite while management tasks are continuous|
|Responsibility||from follow procedures to signal risks and inconsistencies in the functioning of the organisational systems|
|Relationships||from equal to colleagues to people manager|
|Stakeholders||from self, colleagues and a boss to multiple subordinates and a range of upper managers|
|Success||from personal success to team success|
|Action time||now, past; short term.|
|Contribution||Organisational and bottom line impact through the right functional / sector / project impact or contribution|
|Focus||Functional results. From process efficiency to process effectiveness. Optimisations across the organisation.|
|Communication||Agree and negotiate resources and deadlines with other organisational stakeholders|
|Feedback||Active and assertive in asking for and in providing feedback|
|Rountines, practices||Connect and employ people, processes and resources, as deemed necessary, the organisational routines to get things done, and reach the set organisational objectives with their .|
|Responsibility||Functional objectives, people development, organisational development. Actively manage status quo, implement integrations and optimisations as deemed necessary.|
|Relationships||Manage direct relationships with internal (up, down and lateral) stakeholders. Takes part in management of the external stakeholders. Manage through situations leadership.|
|Stakeholders||Direct reports are first line managers. In direct work communication with a variety of managers. Possible to be also in direct communication with external stakeholders.|
|Success||Departmental contribution to the company’s objectives. People's development and motivation.|
|Orientation||Shift easily between various time planes. Now, future, past; short and medium term.|
|Contribution||Create value agreed with shareholders. Define and implement strategy for organisational thriving. Create collateral benefits as expected by shareholders and stakeholders at large.|
|Focus||Value and benefit creation, organisational thriving|
|Communication||Strategic, connecting and facilitating results|
|Rountines, practices||Actively manage organisational culture as the main tool for organisational performance.|
|Responsibility||As agreed with shareholders. Legal compliance. Maintaining organisation at least as a going concern within its constraints.|
|Relationships||Active networking, creating opportunities for the organisation and its people.|
|Stakeholders||Shareholders. Clients and various other external and internal stakeholders.|
|Success||Shareholder and stakeholder promised value. Annual organisational objectives.|
|Orientation||Work with longer term scenarios. See potential. Shift easily between what might be possible, what needs to happen and what is now. Future, now, past. Long, medium and short term.|
The transitioning journey is typical for any integration in a new position. Whether that is in a specialist career or in a management career, the mountain will be waiting for you at any new start.
You may be the master of your last career segment, but once you start a new road, there will be aspects where you will be a novice. It is OK! You need only to know when and how to ackowldge the master in you, and when and how the novice in you needs help and ask for it. Accept this novice, it still has at least hapf a year of goodwill from higher ups around to put all the questions and learn fast.
As a novice, you are at an advantage: people ahead of you in a similar journey, already know what you are going through. Nobody expects (except probably you) you will be fully functional and performant in your new management job, the next day of your nomination. That is why higher or more senior managers will usually be happy to share when seeing "the novice" having "the courage" to open the door and ask.
And be prepared to receive. This means there will be things you will not like. Keep what is useful and use it. Pay attention to not transform the rest in negative feelings or noise in your head or in your environment.
Hire a coach to have a "neutral sounding board" with whom to discuss your approach, your challenges, and your expectations. The exercise of listening to yourself talking about what is happening to you and in you, is very useful at this stage. Unless you give yourself the space to do that, some of your lessons will be only partially integrated, if all.
Last but not least, do not forget to breath! Seriously! In your most stressful moments, take several deep breath. You will start rightaway seeing clearer.
Hope you found this newsletter interesting.
Write me with your experience and tell me what you retain to be most useful. Try yourself first, and help any of your colleagues wth these insights.
💥🎉 That’s pretty much all for today 💥🎉
- Transitioning in any new job is a journey involving a learning curve.
- Relaxing into a position creates the premises of future failure or at least propensity for errors.
- Each management level needs a different mindset.
- One cannot know fully and in depth the next mindset required for success unless 100% involved in the respective paradigm.
- Accessing a new position, you need to adjust expectations about yourself.
- It is OK to be a master and a novice the same time.
- Each management level comes with a different understanding and meaning associated to autonomy, safety, self value, forgiveness, acceptance, compromise, commitment, and success.
- Usually you have 6 months in transitioning to open doors, put your questions and grow to become performant
- When you ask, be prepared to receive everything
- It is on you to sort, keep and discard
- Find a mentor, hire a coach - it will save months if not years of dissapointments
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