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Management Masterclass

By Christine Hayhurst, Chartered Management Instituteexternal link

Contact us for advice on your problems at work.

Q: "I'm considering an offer to take up a position as general manager for a company which started off as a distributor for imported goods. The company has decided to start manufacturing and the CEO wishes to expand the company and create a professional environment. My brief would be to create systems and structures to take the company beyond its present level. I like the challenge but have little previous experience to call on. What are the key steps I ought to take in this situation?"
-- Anabel, UK

A: Starting a job in a new area of a business can be daunting however experienced you are.

If you have been recruited to create something intended to develop the business, as in this case, it's easy to feel under pressure.

It can feel like everybody is watching you and expecting immediate results.

Recently in the public eye, UK lawmaker Charles Clark has made the move from the Department for Education and Skills to become the new Home Secretary and will undoubtedly be under enormous pressure to produce results.

The key in this situation is to turn the pressure into a positive challenge and a new opportunity for learning and development.

It's important that you anticipate change as things will be different and it is likely that your working life will become more demanding.

By ensuring that you have the support of family and friends, you should be better equipped to deal with challenges in the workplace and receive the emotional backup you might need during the early stages of your new job.

Once you know why this new position has been created, consider why the chief executive believes you to be the best person for the job.

Try to identify the qualities that single you out for this job as your performance will certainly be judged by your demonstration of these characteristics and deployment of these skills.

You were chosen based on the experience and skills you offer so it is very unlikely that you are incapable of doing the job well.

When you begin your new role, don't expect too much of yourself settling in with the new territory. Although you may understand the purpose of the job you're doing and the company itself, there will be areas of the role you will need to learn, so try to find out exactly what is expected of you, the scope of your responsibilities and how this will be measured.

If you know what your aims are you can begin to break each aspect down into manageable pieces which will seem more achievable.

If you will be working with others, get to know your team and find out their strengths. It's easier to work with others if you understand them and their abilities.

If working alone, talk to your manager about your concerns and ask questions about the job in hand. By talking things through with your boss in an open manner you should feel less intimidated by the overall project and more supported.

It's important to remember to ask for help if you need it and to voice any concerns you have in plenty of time, before they become major issues.

You might find it useful to network with other managers outside of the organization who may have had similar experiences and can share their knowledge with you.

There are also many resources available to give you technical information on systems development if you require it. Once you have the information you need and are sure of your responsibilities, you need to believe in your own ability and use your experience and skills to achieve the company goals set for you.

If you use the resources open to you and plan your workload you should succeed. Remember, the chief executive would not have offered you this opportunity unless he or she has faith in you.

-- The Chartered Management Instituteexternal link shapes and supports the managers of tomorrow, helping them deliver results in a dynamic world. With 74,000 individual members and 500 corporate members, the Institute helps set and raise standards in management, encouraging development to improve performance.

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