Suddenly Managing People? Try These Tips

Posted November 30, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Today’s young women spend more time than ever before rising through the ranks of their career without actually managing staff. I told you recently about my own journey to becoming a boss and how I’ve managed to stay away from direct management of anyone except interns up until now in my career.

If you’ve stayed intentionally away from supervisory responsibilities, you might find yourself in what calls the position of the “accidental manager.” A quick promotion, a layoff above you, or a big project coming on can immediately put you in the position of becoming a manager, and having to immediately learn the skills you need to ensure those you’re managing are getting the most out of their jobs, and you’re getting the most out of your team.

Here are our favorite tips from’s “12 Tips for the Accidental Manager.”

Find a role model.

“Chances are, there’s someone in your workplace who you believe is a great people manager, even if you’ve never worked for him or her before,” says Darcy Eikenberg, president and chief creative officer of Coach Darcy, LLC. “Who do people go to with questions? Who do people gravitate toward? Find that role model and invite them for coffee or lunch. Pay attention to what they say and do — and what they don’t.”

Figure out what “manager” means.

“If you don’t have a clear and admirable image of what it means to be a manager, get one,” says Latham. “It’s not just a title. It’s not about pushing paper and controlling people. You are going to make mistakes, so you might as well admit it up front and prepare yourself and others for the feedback loop that you will need to learn quickly on the job.”

Show them your heart. “When people know that your intent is to do the best you can for everyone because you’ve said so, out loud, your team will help you know the right things to do when,” Eikenberg says. “Ask a lot of questions, especially, ‘What do you think?’ Say thank you everyday. The old models of hard-nosed management don’t work anymore — being yourself does.”

Head to the public library.

“You won’t learn everything overnight, but you’ll expose yourself to new vocabulary and new insights about management, and figure out that your new title or responsibility is really about leadership. Which, is all about your positive influence and impact,” Ashford says.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."