I love Germany. I love the people, the country and the language that gives the world a word for ‘the feeling of being alone in the woods’ – waldeinsamkeit.
Managing people for the first time gave me my first taste of waldeinsamkeit. My beer mates from before my promotion were now my staff and they were looking to me for leadership.
After the congratulations and excitement dies down it can feel very lonely to be the one in charge. You have to find your niche in the team and develop your own best practice in management. You also have a whole new set of priorities from your new boss. There will be mistakes that affect other people's lives, sometimes seriously and there’s often no-one to share with.
First time managers need 3 things in those early years
- A solid management education to steer them through the new situations and decisions they will be making.
- A mentor – books, no matter how brilliant, will never replace intelligent discussion and guidance from an experienced person who is on your side.
- Support and reassurance. Mistakes are necessary to grow but it’s hard to open up about mistakes you make with your staff. You need a supportive group of people in a similar situation where you can discuss what went wrong (and right) and decide how to do better in future.
The University of life and learning by doing is all great but personally, I’d rather have had a bit more preparation before I was dropped off in the woods that first time.