20 Weird Things That Can Happen When You Become a Manager

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Published 5/8/2015

Managers are caught by surprise by some of the subtle, and not so subtle, changes that take place when he/she becomes a manager. To the manager, he/she may think he/she is still just one of the gang that happens to have a title, and think, “Hey, it’s just me, same old Dan, no big deal!” But it’s not the same – weird things begin to happen. The manager begins to notice the following:

1. They become funny. Their employees laugh at their jokes – the same employees who never did when the manager was one of them.

2. They become interesting. When the manager speaks, all of sudden employees turn on their best listening skills. They knowingly nod their heads in agreement, and people take notes when he/she speaks.

3. Suggestions become orders. For a manager, there is no such thing as a suggestion. “Hey, have you ever considered using FedEx instead of UPS?” is heard as “I want you to dump UPS!”

4. Their coworkers are no longer their friends. This is one of the toughest pills to swallow as a manager. The roles are now different – the manager now is in a position to reward and punish. Friendship is perceived as playing favorites.

5. Their employees stop talking, laughing, or change the subject when they show up. The same thing happens to HR managers. It’s part of the territory.

6. The manager becomes the topic of your employee’s dinner time conversation. While the manager may not be around to witness this, trust me, when asked, “How was your day at work?”, there is a good chance the manager will be a part of the conversation.


7. The manager has an enormous impact on the lives of your employees. Good or bad decisions no longer just impact one person – they impact each and every employee, as well as the employee’s family.

8. The manager starts speaking Management Speak, using words and phrases like “synergies,” “low-hanging fruit,” “drill-down,” “helicopter view,” and “deliverables.”

9. The manager becomes painfully aware of their former coworkers faults that the former manager covered up. Behavior that was once seen as quirky and funny now seems unprofessional and irritating.

10. Performance reviews are now taken seriously. What was once seen as a once a year annoying ritual now is seen as an important process and discussion.

11. Everything is taken more seriously. The manager begins to lose their sense of humor.

12. The manager becomes demanding and impatient. The top performer who gets promoted to manager just can’t seem to understand why everyone else doesn’t get it the way they did. They can often come across as insensitive jerks, instead of taking the time to coach and develop.

See “Ten Reasons Why Superstar Employees Make Lousy Managers.”

13. They start micromanaging. The lack of patience and demands from above begins to turn the “hands off” manager into a micromanager.

See “20 Clues That You Might be a Micromanager: Take the Quiz to Find Out.”

14. They begin to realize that they are “management,” “the company,” and “the man.” When looking for someone to blame, they realize the buck stops with them.

15. What used to pass for a joke or stupid behavior can now turn into a lawsuit.

16. Expectations are raised for the manager. They are expected to be wiser, more patient, a leader, more strategic, and more professional. This happens overnight, with little or no training or probationary period.

17. They become overly cautious and risk-adverse. Little mistakes become big mistakes, and when they get their hands slapped, the once innovative, bold, high-flyer becomes a gatekeeper instead of a gate crasher.

18. They become guarded. When they have access to sensitive and confidential information, they become cautious as to what they can share or not share. While this can be a good thing, they often begin to hoard information and become less willing to share personal information about themselves.

19. They become cost conscious. Or even cheap. The same employee that used to complain about how cheap “the company” was is now is responsible for a budget. 

See “A Finance and Accounting Glossary for the Non-Financial Manager.”

20. They turn into a “human shield.” Managers find themselves protecting their employees from all kinds of nonsense in order to allow them to focus on their jobs and stay motivated. Given that their own managers probably did that for them, they never realized there was so much @%&* coming at them from above.

Do all of these weird things have to happen to every manager? Of course not! However, a manager should be aware that once promoted to a management, things do change – some for the better, and some for the worse. Self-awareness is critical in order to avoid the potential negative unintended consequences of becoming a manager.