May 2023

New management role?

Effective managers lay the foundation for success by spending time on the fundamentals rather than dashing to secure so-called low-hanging fruit. Here are my three fundamentals:

  1. Test and clarify – What’s written in the job description is not always what’s expected. Talk to your boss, team and business partners in the organization to understand your new role and people’s expectations. Listen for alignment of business objectives and values, and for inconsistencies and risks. Understand what success would look like for your stakeholders, the overall organization and yourself (3, 6 and 12 months from now). Use active listening to uncover potential areas of disagreement about priorities and resource allocation.
  2. Set the agenda. Based on these conversations, map the stakeholders according to a) their needs and wants, their positions and interests and b) what you need from them to make progress on business objectives and key performance indicators. Discuss your findings with close colleagues, your team and your boss. Then develop the plan with your team and keep stakeholders engaged or informed as required.
  3. Build an effective team. By involving your team in items 1 and 2 you will have already started building the team. Apply the characteristics of successful teams to your context, write a memo about it to yourself and re-read it every few weeks to see how you and your team are doing:
    • Clear leadership
    • Defined goals, clear assignment of roles, responsibilities and delegation
    • Agreement on how decisions are made and who decides what
    • Open communication, which fosters trust and effective methods for managing disagreements
    • Risk appetite and continuous learning.

In short, focus on team performance as much as individual performance.


Future Tense by Tracy Dennis-Tiwary. Professor of psychology and neuroscience Tracy Dennis-Tiwary reinterprets the “anxiety-as-disease” story. She points to research and her own life to explain anxiety as an emotion that feels bad but can be good for us when it activates action (think the flight or fight tendencies in the context of our every day). While Dennis-Tiwary recognizes that anxiety can be debilitating, most of us can do well by following these three principles:

  1. Anxiety is information about the future; listen to it.
  2. If anxiety isn’t useful, let it go for a moment.
  3. If anxiety is useful, do something purposeful with it.


The Poynter Institute is a U.S.-based training and resource center focused on journalism and an informed citizenry. Its MediaWise program helps young people, the workforce of the future, improve their digital media literacy and critical thinking.

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