Tips for making an effective transition – before you apply or when you are selected

Think about what you want to be known for as a manager - how people will describe what it’s like to work with you. The reputation you envision is yours to create.
The change from being an individual contributor to management can feel uncertain at times. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and be open to advice and feedback. Accept that there will be an adjustment period where you will have to learn and practice new skills, and in so doing you will regain confidence.
When you start a management role, your first instinct may be to focus on the work and the problems you are expected to solve. Reset your focus to develop and manage a team that capably meets the objectives that have been set for your area. No manager succeeds alone.
Assume that everyone wants to do their best for the United Nations. You may have worked with some of your team members before, and others are new to you. Start fresh with each person, letting everyone know that you are focused on the shared goals as well as their individual aspirations. You may find it helpful to read the article, How to Manage Your Former Peers, from the Harvard Business Review.
Open the checklist to think about areas where you need to transition your skills. Use the resources here and throughout the Organization to build your knowledge, skills and relationships.

Practical things you need to know and do at the start

First day

First week

First month

  • Have a start-up meeting with your manager to understand his/her expectations.
  • Meet your team and let them know what they can expect from you as their manager. Set a positive open tone from the start.
  • Ask for updates on the most critical deliverables and how progress is being monitored.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of your predecessor and let the team know your interest is to build the future—not to criticize the past.
  • Review the Senior Manager's Compact for your Dept/Office and other strategic documents.
  • Introduce yourself to your fellow managers and their teams.
  • Develop your workplan with your manager. Note what is most important to your manager and his/her view of the high impact deliverables.
  • Gather the information about the work in progress with your team members to make an informed assessment of where the work stands and what has to happen.  Ask to see the existing workplans and/or strategies
  • Spend time with each individual to learn more about their experience and goals, and any issues that need to be addressed within the team.
  • Check the policy or procedure on things new to you. For HR policy, review the legal framework
  • Set up regular communication mechanisms within the team
  • Give your manager regular updates
  • During managerial meetings, take note of the areas where your work integrates with or impacts other areas.
  • Start developing your support network
  • Go the Profile of an Effective UN Manager to self-assess your most important learning needs and get started on your priorities.




Developing your support network

Becoming a manager can make you feel “lonely at the top” and like you are living under a microscope at the same time. When you need advice or a private sounding board, you will want to turn to those who have the experience that you trust. Avoid the pitfall of confiding in a former co-worker that you now supervise. Develop your support network among other managers - often the act of asking for some help opens the door to building an alliance that will serve you well over time. Think, too, about the key relationships you need to develop to be successful. Look for someone whose actions model the kind of manager you would like to be. Make the time to build those relationships. For example:

  • A colleague who is known as a great team leader
  • The manager with skill in persuasive presentations
  • The colleague who has upper management’s trust
  • Someone with a low-stress way of managing the competing demands

Fostering a good relationship with your manager

Mutual support between you and your manager means that you each trust and can rely on the other. Think about some of the essentials to building trust and reliability:

  • Knowledge – do your homework on all of the background related to what you are doing and what is expected. It is not your manager’s job to educate you; he/she will appreciate that you demonstrate having the knowledge base by sharing your analysis and forward-thinking ideas.
  • Loyalty – If you expect your manager to back you up when things get tough, and to help you promote initiatives that require persuasion, then you must also do the same. Handle public situations with diplomacy and tact and have private conversations with your manager to agree on a united front.
  • Competence – proactively move the agenda forward—don’t add burdens for your manager to carry. He or she wants to see that you can be counted on to manage the effort of your team to produce the results. When something blocks the effort, acknowledge the problem and work with your team to find another way.

Getting started with your Profile

The Profile of an Effective UN Manager sets out the key expectations that the UN Secretariat has of its managers. Use the profile to self-assess your knowledge and skills against the expectations. The related supporting tools and resources to meet the requirements of each expectation listed in the profile are available to staff in all duty stations here on the HR Portal, and serve as just-in-time resources to supplement face-to-face learning programmes.