Learning Dynamics in bytes


Category: Professional Development

So, you just became a manager for the first time . . .

Not sure if your career path is anything like mine, but the first time I officially had direct reports at work was 15 years into my working career. Sure, I had held various leadership roles in college and even at work lead committees and teams on projects, but the first time my job responsibilities included, “career advisor” to a fellow coworker has only been in the last year. What I have come to realize is that while leading a team is a blast, it also starts to shift how you are valued at work. 


This is the second paradigm shift during my working career. The first came about six months into my first job out of college. Fresh out of college, I landed a staff accountant role in Colorado at a small privately held company. Though I learned many valuable lessons in this role, the biggest came when I realized I was valued based on what I knew in my head and not what I could physically accomplish. Many of the jobs prior to graduating college were manual labor jobs including, bailing straw and lawn maintenance. This paradigm shift of being valued for what my body could accomplish, to the intellectual abilities of my brain, was crazy to me! Once I understood I am now valued for my knowledge, which is highly valued in the computer and digital age, I have sought to continue to learn at every opportunity. 


The second paradigm shift in my career came just this past week. In the last year I was promoted to manager and given responsibilities to grow a recent college hire. It has been an amazing year of learning and working with a professional that I have no doubts, will soon far outpace myself. While the year has been enjoyable, it has also been a year of turmoil as I struggled to find my place in this new world of management. After years of being evaluated based on my personal contributions and knowledge of the product, I was now evaluated on team performance and my ability to grow and develop others. While one of my favorite things about my job is to grow and mentor people, the devaluation of my personal knowledge and contributions to a project was a blow to my ego. After eight years of developing my product knowledge, the currency of valuation was changing along with my job title and responsibilities. 


Growing up we moved around a lot and I learn to appreciate moving and the change that comes with it. The opportunity to learn more about a new area of the country or world and meet new people and learn about their traditions has fascinated me. So needless to say, I enjoy change and the opportunities to grow and learn from change. With all that said, this change in valuation from individual contributor to manager was unanticipated and came as a shock. I had never heard anyone describe their metamorphosis regarding the change that comes with the promotion to manager. 


It’s an exciting time in your career when you are asked to manage others and to help grow and shape them in their career. Being given this honor is validation for all of the hard work that you have put in as an individual contributor and is the next stage in the evolution of your career. I would encourage you to be aware of the emotions you will go through during this paradigm shift and to be excited for the opportunities to meaningfully impact those whom have been entrusted to your guidance.