How to Transition from Middle Management to Upper Management

Although a promotion is exciting, transitioning from middle management to senior management can be a challenge. The things that worked in your previous role may not necessarily work as well in your new role and this transition oftentimes means letting go of old habits and learning to develop new ones. Yet, not everyone has someone they can rely on for support or questions along the way. Here are a few tips that can help you ease the transition from manager to executive. 

Understand the New Position

One of the most crucial components to succeeding in your new role is to understand exactly what is involved. You can’t be successful if you rely on the framework of your prior position. Therefore, you need to examine every detail of this new position: What are the skills and responsibilities of the executive position? How does this differ from the management role? How can you prepare for these new responsibilities? What is your plan of action? Understanding the specifics of your new role is fundamental to your success. 

Shift Your Focus

One of the biggest challenges in transitioning from middle to upper management is the ability to shift your focus. Managers tend to focus on short-term goals and developing their employees in a way that will produce results. Executives, however, need to focus on long-term goals and how they can influence outcomes. Managers thrive as specialists in their department but leaders need to understand the workings of every department. Managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their team while leaders focus on engaging the entire workforce. 

Commit to Self-Improvement

Managers are focused on one team but leaders are focused on everyone, which means there is far more at stake and far more to learn. As you transition to upper management, you must commit to becoming a learner and demonstrate a willingness to strive for self-improvement. You can only lead others if you are competent yourself so you must always be working to strengthen and develop your skills.

Trust Yourself

When moving from middle to upper management, many professionals struggle with trusting themselves to operate at this new level. It is important to remember that you were chosen for this role because others in senior management felt like you were capable, so you need to start by believing in yourself. Next, choose a mentor who can help you navigate the challenges you will face as you learn this new role. 

Maintain Old Relationships

As you climb the corporate ladder, you become more physically removed from day-to-day work and people. You lose touch with those who are performing the work and making the business possible, but oftentimes these people are the ones with the best ideas. Don’t miss opportunities by looking at the company from the rooftop view. Instead, maintain relationships with those closest to the work and get to know the people and the problems.