The 7th Key to Making a Successful Transition to Management

In previous posts, I addressed six keys to becoming effective in a new management position:

1. Get Clarity about Your New Role

2. Acknowledge Power Differences

3.  Give Clear Expectations and Feedback

4. Coach Employees to Success

5.  Choose Your Battles

6.  Be Honest and Transparent about Your Focus and Intentions.  


Now, I am offering a 7th key–

7.  Avoid Throwing Anyone Under the Bus– Ever!

You can best achieve a successful transition to management– and maintain your integrity — if you work at your ability to hold the two perspectives in tension, without trying to choose sides.  Even if you used to participate in the conversations about how management just doesn’t get it, you don’t have to join in on the conversations about how staff just doesn’t get it.

Hey, think of it this way–  it’s a great opportunity to develop your intelligence and your character!

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald 

When you’re a middle manager, there’s really no way to be successful in this transition if you side against line staff OR  if you side against management.  It is your job to be supportive of both.

I have seen quite a few newer managers stumble on this one– maybe all of us have!  You try to cope with this complexity by holding your alliance with former peers/ current supervisees as your top priority and, somehow, without intending it, you end up throwing someone under the bus.  Early in your transition, it’s more likely to be upper management or payors.  It looks like this:

  • “Hey, team, here’s a new requirement– it’s stupid, as usual.  I had nothing to do with it.  Please just do your best.”

This just doesn’t work out well.  In my experience, managers who take this approach tend to experience a lot of stress in their new roles.  They don’t feel they’re doing their best.  They know they’re not behaving with integrity as they betray the rest of the management team.  And, at some level, they worry that they’re risking their jobs.

So, the advice is to never throw anyone under the bus– ever!   Maintain your integrity and develop new intelligence as you learn to manage effectively from the middle.

What lessons would YOU like to share about coping with being a middle manager?


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