If you’ve ever been an optical manager, you know it can be a tough job. After all, you’re responsible for the performance of other people as well as a number of specific tasks and objectives. The success of your team directly determines your success. That’s a pretty tall order, especially since most optical managers have no prior managerial training, so they fly by the seat of their pants, as the old saying goes. Want to make that situation even more difficult? How about becoming a
manager in an office where you used to be one of the people supervised by this manager’s position? In other words, you’re now managing the people you used to work with side-by-side as equals. Now you’re “the boss,” so to speak.

For most people, this is a tough situation. There’s plenty to do and there’s plenty to learn. Let’s face it—your old buddies are going to test you in ways you never thought possible. After all, you used to be one of them so they’re going to expect you to be pretty light on them. The problem for you is that your owner or supervisor is going to expect you to be the kind of manager she expects—a real pro. That’s why she gave you the position.

If you’re going to take a manager’s position in an office you now work in as one of the staff, you’ll need to consider a few things. The biggest is that you’re moving into something that is very different than you were doing. You’re going to be in charge of your team, and while you can be as participatory as you wish, you’re ultimately responsible for what they do and how they do it. This means setting expectations for the team and each person in it. That may not set well with your old buds, but it’s your job, so accept the responsibility. You can’t apologize for being the manager; it’s a respected position and you’ll need to do it well to keep it.

On your first day as a new manager, pull your team together and explain that you’ll need their help to get things done in the office and that together, you’ll enjoy making the office a better place to work. Next, ask them how the business can be improved. It’s important that you establish a sense of trust with them. One way of doing this is to let them know from the beginning that you value their input and recommendations. Remember, you don’t know everything and you really do need their help to make the office a success. Empower people by engaging their insights and talents.

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