A Strong Start

 “I’ve just been hired as a business development manager. It’s a big promotion for me and it’s also a new company. How can I ramp up quickly and start getting results?”

There are few career moments as exciting, and these days as perilous, as being promoted from an individual contributor to a manager. Here ‘s advice from others like you who have successfully moved into management.

Five Career Success Tactics

  1. Begin your transition before you start the job.

What are the key challenges? Which functions are strong, and which ones need to be overhauled? What are your expectations in the first month, after 6 months, within a year? Use that information to develop an action plan from day one.

“The interview process is where you start. That’s where you begin asking questions to find out what it will take to be successful.”

  1. Acknowledge what you don’t know.

Identify those around you who are the experts and don’t be afraid to lean on them. No one expects an incoming manager to know everything. And there is nothing more off-putting to a future team than a know it all boss.

“I had lots of credibility as a manufacturing engineer. But suddenly I was responsible for tool design, fuselage definition, all kinds of areas that weren’t in my background. I had to get up to speed fast.”

  1. Be an elephant hunter not an ant stomper.

You can’t fix everything at once despite the pressures that are on you as the new manager. Every day you must go out hunting elephants, those high priority goals, rather than stomping ants, those tasks that are quick kills but do not put much meat on the table.

“Typically, you can’t do everything you want to do, so you need to make some strategic choices. This is where you begin to align your goals around your organization’s key initiatives.”

  1. Target a few early wins.

Nothing succeeds like success. It’s critical for a new manager to create momentum during the transition. Pick some problems the organization has not been able to solve and figure out a way to fix them quickly.

“I didn’t want to solve world hunger in the first three months, but I was looking for a couple of things that would pay immediate dividends. Where I could get the attention of my boss and show her I can be effective.”

  1. Balance the big picture with front line views.

Go where the action is. Get out of your office and walk the shop, retail, plant floors. Talk with your front-line people, your peers, your customers and even your suppliers. They generally will give you the “real” scoop rather than what you tend to hear from your direct reports.

“During my first six months, I visited more than 50 stores and met with more than 500 team members. I knew they could tell me, better than headquarters, what the company needed to do in order to keep on growing.”

Making the transition from individual contributor can be challenging, especially if you have little or no management experience. Look at the key skills you need to be an effective manager and focus developing them as quick as possible. Focus on gaining some early wins – small victories that you and the team can achieve quickly. This will give you a sense of accomplishment. To enhance your leadership also see Letting Go is Hard to Do but Necessary and Who Will Make the better Leader, Carla or Sam?

What lessons have you learned that would help the newly promoted? I would enjoy hearing from you.

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What’s Your Specific Challenge?
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My motto is: “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens. To bring that magic to your leadership Subscribe to “Coaching Clinic” Marcia’s monthly Execubrief with additional insights, intelligence, and inspiration on leadership and career topics.


Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. With our clients, we make sure they understand the sort of people we are — we often start off with saying we’re a team of “grey hair and no hair that does ____”. Then we share a story. Our challenge is having one story we can share with all clients.

  2. Wonderful advise Marcia! I’m so glad you’ve shared these tips for the new and/or inspiring manager. In further support, I really appreciate the point about spending time with staff to get a true ‘feel’ for the organization. It’s not uncommon that we learn a whole lot from our peers that headquarters simply isn’t privy to~

    • Jennifer, I’m not sure who said this truism: “if you want to know what’s going on, talk with the folks on the front line…they hear and see everything.” As you said we also can learn a whole lot from our peer, customers, etc.

  3. Wonderful insights, Marcia. I especially love the suggestion of “being an Elephant Hunter rather than an Ant Stomper!” This one insight could be an entire (and interesting) article. I appreciate your contributions to BizCatalyst360. 🙂 Smiles, Devaney

    • Thank you Devaney. I’ve been using the analogy of elephant hunting and ant stomping ith my clients in talking about time and priority management.

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