We're Hiring!

Retail Greatness Blog

5 Tips to Help You Ease into the Promotion from Field Rep to Field Manager

It's the moment we equally look forward to and dread: the moment we get promoted. Who doesn't want a promotion? The snazzy new title and a potentially bigger paycheck to go along with it. But the temporary downside to securing that new promotion is transitioning into it. 

5 Tips to Help You Ease into the Promotion from Field Rep to Field Manager

What follows are five tips to make that process a bit more bearable:

1. Be Prepared by Being Proactive

Did you ever have that boss who defended his or her negligence in properly training their employees by throwing out that age-old line: "When it was me trying to learn, my boss just threw me in the deep end and said 'swim!'" Well, never has that been more true than when you become a manager.

After all, it's assumed that you already know all there is to know, so training isn't as much of a priority for managers as it is for newcomers. Yet, of course, there will always be things that you flat-out don't know, or that you may need a refresher on. That is why it is your responsibility to do your research ahead of time before Monday morning rolls around and you're smack dab in the middle of your new position.

Get to know the responsibilities that come with your new position and how best to handle them. A quick internet search should do the trick. You could also seek out advice from others in similar positions.

2. Get to Know Your Team, If You Haven't Already

As a field rep, it is difficult to get to know your peers when you're all working in different places at different times. But as the field reps' manager, it is imperative that you know all there is to know about your team, particularly their best and worst traits. Evaluate their job performance - if they're messing up, is it because they don't care, or because they were improperly trained? Now that you're their manager, you actually have the power to fix this by making some changes to your team or bringing in some additional training opportunities. (Isn't being the manager great?)

It goes without saying that you want to put the majority of your focus on the team members who are struggling the most. If their issues can't be nipped in the bud, they could end up bringing the whole team down single-handedly, and while this is definitely not good for the team or the company, it's also not something you want on your head as their new manager.

3. Make Communication Your Top Priority

We say it all the time here - communicate, communicate, communicate! There is perhaps nothing more important in any relationship, business or otherwise, than effective communication. Remember when, as a field rep, you had that one manager who never heard out your concerns, never got back to you with feedback - good or otherwise - and who basically treated you like a number? Remember how much you hated that? Well, then that's the perfect example of how not to act as your team's new manager.

Provide your team with ample opportunities to approach you with anything they need to discuss, whether it's about their performance in general, other members of the team, issues within a store, etc. Offer regular feedback, and then follow up on that feedback, and offer more training opportunities should that feedback be less than stellar. And when you do meet with your team members, don't rush them. Show them that you respect what they have to say by giving them enough time to say it, enough time for you to respond, and enough time for them to build on that response by defending themselves or by providing more insight into how they did something particularly well.

4. Be a Constant Presence in Your Team's Daily Activities

No, we don't mean to stalk your team, micromanaging them and watching them at every corner. This goes more in line with point number three above. Showing your team that you are a constant presence in their work lives will encourage them to come to you if and when things go south. And how do you do this? Send them regular emails advising them of company policies, great sales figures, stores who received great (or less than great) audits - anything at all that you wish to share with them that will allow them to see how their contributions to the company affect everyone as a whole.

There's a bonus to this, and that is that you are also creating a paper trail of your team's performance history. By sending your team messages about stores that are doing well or about team members that are acting like top performers, you can reference this material later on when you might need it for an audit or feedback session.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Split Up Your Responsibilities

You may think to yourself: "Finally, I am in control. Now I can handle activities the way I want them to be handled." And while you definitely have the skills to do this - after all, those skills got you this promotion - it's actually the much stronger manager who can take a step back and delegate his or her responsibilities to other members of the team. This frees you up to do the more important things which may not present themselves to you right away when you first start in this new role, but that will become more apparent over time once you clear out the "clutter" of the tasks that you don't really need to take responsibility for anymore as a manager.

You should plan out your delegation accordingly beforehand, though. You don't want to hand out tasks willy-nilly to reps who might not have the tools or skills necessary to complete them. And you also want to pay particular attention to territory management. You don't want to burden one rep while overly lightening the load of another. Everyone should have a fairly balanced work schedule in order to prevent burnout and encourage productivity.

Congratulations on your new promotion! Now you get to see if you have what it takes to be a truly great manager. See how you fare against other managers in your field by clicking below to receive our free Field Force Productivity Assessment.

 New Call-to-action

Topics: Field Manager Greatness promotions