Making the Jump to Manager
Published: March 25, 2016
When I was hired at 3Q Digital, I took a hit in terms of title. Sure, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between an “associate” and a “coordinator,” but at 3Q the hierarchy is associate -> coordinator -> manager. I left a position as a coordinator, and came in as an associate. Why? I knew the breadth of knowledge I’d acquire at 3Q would more than make up the difference, and I was eager to prove that I could be an impactful member of the marketing team.
One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me at work was an accident. When I told a coworker that I had been promoted to marketing manager, they replied “Oh? I thought you already were.” Definite confidence booster, and I expected things to be a breeze. However, the changes have been more dramatic than I had anticipated. Here’s what I’ve learned so far to be qualities I think are important to a new manager, and ones I hope to refine further along the way:
Dictionary.com provides the following (among 9) definition of managing: “to take charge or care of.” It also refers to horses and weapon-wielding, both of which bring out the English major curiosity as to its etymology, but I digress. The important point is that you’re being given charge of something. If you’re not the one looking after your responsibilities, no one else is going to pick up the slack. While this sometimes means longer hours, it also means taking pride and care in the things you accomplish.
I don’t mean that you need to be literally clairvoyant. That’s impossible. I think. What I mean is: you need to anticipate things before they happen as best you can. Meeting coming up? You better have as much data and research as you can so you can answer questions intelligently and effectively.
Plan as best as you can, anticipate problems, and execute. If you’ve thought enough about what you’re doing, altering course should be simple should problems arise. Don’t try to steer the ship through a storm without a map.
Take the Initiative
Taking the initiative can come in several forms. It could mean charting out a project and executing it before a problem arises. It could mean refining a process through your own testing and iteration. It could mean identifying a mistake you’ve made, and communicating it (and your solution) to whomever you report to. You can’t wait around for tasks to be given to you like when you might have in a supporting role. You’re responsible for making decisions and taking action.
Anyone working in any position at 3Q Digital embodies this trait, which is something I think we often take for granted. It’s a good testament to our hiring process and passionate team.
Own Your Mistakes
One of 3Q’s core values is “Own it!” The official explanation of the value is overwhelmingly positive (which I love), but it also implies that we should own our mistakes too. That means: identifying that you’ve made a mistake, correcting the problem, and taking steps to ensure that you don’t make that mistake again. If you do make the mistake again, it’s time to examine the issue as a bigger problem.
For instance: several times (in rapid succession I might add) I’ve made a stupid mistake at work. I’m responsible for posting the blog every morning, and WordPress has a pesky habit of deciding it wants to set the blog posting date back when the post was drafted instead of when I’m posting it. It only does this occasionally, and most frequently around the turn of the year. At any rate: the date needs to be checked every time, and I was missing the error.
Sure, it seems fairly easy to correct, but in my morning rush I kept making the mistake. It took a self-examination for me to realize that when tasks become too routine, I tend to miss details that I really shouldn’t be missing. I’ve taken steps to take my time with things that would otherwise be routine by changing the order I do them in, trying to do them during different parts of the day, or setting reminders in some cases.
I’ve still got a lot to learn in my role as Marketing Manager, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our CEO likes to say that “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.” He’s referring to our industry specifically since things move so fast in the digital marketing world, but I like to think that it applies to professional development too.