Growth, change and transitions are a natural part of any career, especially in a quickly moving industry like PR. Personally, I transitioned into PR after studying journalism—a seamless move, especially since the skills I developed writing for the university newspaper (Go Hilltoppers!) come in handy when working so closely with media.
Seven years into my PR career—after many pitches sent and stories placed, plans written and products launched—another transition was in store for me as I celebrated a promotion from senior account executive to account manager. Once the dust settled around the excitement, I began to experience something that I had heard about before—the jump to manager is one of the most challenging moves in agency life. Tactical prowess has gotten you this far, but now it’s time to evolve into a dedicated leader and teacher.
At SHIFT, we’re offered a management immersion program to help develop a wider management skill set, and in turn, enhance our ability to build and lead high-performing teams. With lessons that range from “motivating your team” to “coaching with emotional intelligence,” new managers get a crash course in developing key skills for success. Here are three big takeaways from my work in the program so far:
1. Delegate. It’s not about you.
The challenge: when to do the work yourself, and when to guide and train. A wise woman (shout out Cathy Allen!) described the struggle as battling with an internal voice—the critic and perfectionist within you wants to “just do it,” and worries that people might think you’re shirking responsibility. Not so! Your role as a manager is to make the work even better, and save your time to review, add value and teach your team.
2. Trust your gut.
You earned your new title and responsibilities, but does everyone else buy into that? It’s easy to start second guessing your own recommendations now that they aren’t all being signed off on by senior leadership—it’s your responsibility now to call the shots. But, as the kids say these days, you should lean in! It was sound judgment and smart strategic decisions that moved you into a management role, and if you trust your own counsel, your team and clients will too.
3. Sometimes, just listen.
As a new manager, the pressure is on to know ALL the answers to your team’s problems overnight. Or at least it feels that way. In reality, good management isn’t about solving issues with a magic wand. Usually, your reports are just looking for someone to listen—more often than not, they know the answers to their own questions and need a sounding board. Set aside time for one-on-one meetings and offer your ear—if someone is facing a challenge, share your own experience where you had a similar problem to face. Or don’t—build trust with your team by listening to what they have to say.
These are just three of the endless lessons available on how become a strong manager. Above all else, stay nimble and open to change—transition is always on the horizon, bringing with it opportunities for continuous growth.
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