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Helping a New Manager Succeed

New ManagerNew managers need support to succeed in role. Consider that many individuals hired into new management roles may not have previous experience managing people; they have likely come from individual contributor roles. To make it even more challenging, they are now likely managing those individuals who were once their peers.

Consider this example:

Jeremy is a newly promoted manager in his department. He wants to be sure that his team knows he is the boss. This is especially important to Jeremy since he used to be a peer of many of the people who now report to him. He feels a need to control everything and make sure his team doesn’t make mistakes. Here is what Jeremy’s team says about him:

“Jeremy could probably be a good boss but he just isn’t a very nice person. He loses his cool quickly and berates employees in front of the rest of the team. He does quickly apologizes but then does it all over again! When this happens, the rest of us are, frankly, afraid of him and it is not very comfortable to be in that situation. Jeremy will probably do the same to us next! At this point, we aren’t going to do anything that he might consider ‘stepping out of line.’ We don’t need the stress of a boss yelling out us.”

Jeremy know he is having some challenges in his new role, but is hesitant to approach his manager for help. He doesn’t want his promotion taken away! Jeremy’s manager meets one-on-one every other week with Jeremy. The discussions during these one-on-ones are solely around progress being made on projects being worked on by Jeremy’s team. When projects are falling behind, Jeremy’s manager tells him to get things back on track.

Best Practices to Support a New Manager

Leadership must be sensitive to the fact that many new managers have never managed people previously. Moving from an individual contributor to being responsible for a team is a significant change for people. Without the right support, many will fail in their role of new manager. Morale of their direct reports may also be reduced which will impact productivity within the group.

Here are some best practices to help a new manager succeed in his role:

Set up Regular Weekly One-on-One Meetings

Regular weekly one-on-one meetings are essential to keep a new manager moving forward and on track. In our example above, the manager is meeting with Jeremy, but not weekly and the focus is only on reporting on status of projects of Jeremy’s team. Weekly meetings enables for increased support of the new manager by providing him a forum to share challenges and get guidance on managing staff. The agenda for these meetings should include checking in on current projects, discussing challenges that the new manager is having with staff, enabling the new manager to ask questions related to managing his staff as well as helping the new manager set objectives and goals for himself and his staff.

Provide a Mentor

Every new manager needs a mentor besides his manager. This mentor should be another manager in the organization who has more experience than the new manager but who has been in the “new manager” role previously. The mentor may come from another area of the organization, it does not need to be from the same division. Mentors are another resource for the new manager, enabling him to have someone he can reach out to help solve problems or resolve conflicts. For many new managers, a mentor is someone he can go to discuss ideas, thoughts, concerns that he may not be comfortable talking about with his boss.

Help the New Manager Make Connections

The manager (and even the mentor may assist here) should help the new manager make connections throughout the organization. Often individual contributors do not have broad experience working throughout the organization and may not have much opportunity to work with other departments. Managers and mentors can support the new manager by providing him introductions throughout the organization and giving him a “head start” in building relationships.

Provide Training Opportunities

Providing training opportunities enables the new manager to gain new skills and increase his knowledge to help him be effective in his new role. Training should go beyond the usual information provided by human resources or the new manager’s boss around expectations of the manager role and should be focused on key management and leadership skills. Training may be provided as part of an on-site program or via virtual options. There is certainly value in getting a number of new managers together to attend an on-site management skills training workshop. It enables them to build relationships with each other and collaborate on how to perform their roles effectively.

New managers need support and guidance to help them succeed. Some of Abudi Consulting Group’s clients runs a yearly Achieving Your Leadership Potential program for new managers and supervisors. This program provides best practices for managing conflicts with others, engaging direct reports, managing performance and providing feedback and a number of other relevant best practices for those new to managing people. For many of our clients we also host a portal that enables participants in the program to have a safe place to go to discuss challenges with staff, problem solve collaboratively or just share some of their own best practices.

The more support provided new managers the more likely they are to succeed in their role and be productive sooner rather than later. They will engage their direct reports which enables for goals and objectives to be achieved and collaboration among the team.

Let’s revisit our example of Jeremy – a new manager. With the right combination of manager support as well as training and a mentor, Jeremy will gain the skills needed to be confident in his role without being overbearing with his staff. He needs guidance from his own manager to understand how to manage people effectively.