Every manager was a new manager once. Some learned and grew and excelled at their jobs. Others struggled. Some decided they weren’t cut out to be managers. Not every talented worker needs to manage; some prefer to make personal contributions as subject matter experts, and there’s no shame in that.
But for new managers who want to lead others, some initial struggles are almost inevitable. Here are some ways to help new managers become good, or even great, at management.
Some Common Issues
The biggest mistake many new managers make is not asserting themselves with their direct reports. Especially when people are promoted from within the organization and find themselves managing former peers, the adjustment can be difficult.
A second issue—again, especially if people have been promoted—is that new managers must work twice as hard to prove themselves and gain credibility. Depending upon the organization’s culture, that may be even more true if the new manager is female or a person of color. Fortunately, many companies are aware of this possibility and are working to create inclusive environments.
Overcoming Those Issues
For organizations of any size, helping new managers succeed with in-depth management training is critical. That training should include several areas.
To start, new managers should be taught how to manage people, including how to set boundaries, give clear direction, communicate expectations, and support both high- and low-performing employees. They should also learn how to manage performance issues.
New managers should also understand how their management responsibilities support the organization’s strategy and culture. Mentorship from senior managers can provide guidance.
Specifically, when applicable, the senior manager who supported the new manager’s promotion should serve as a mentor. This is a huge confidence booster. Not only did this individual advocate their promotion, but they’re also providing ongoing guidance and encouragement, which reinforces the initial vote of confidence.
The Realities of Management
New managers will learn two things early on in their management careers.
First, they might lose some friends (if they were promoted from within), and they have to be careful to set professional and personal boundaries to ensure that they don’t develop inappropriate friendships with the people they manage.
Second, new managers need to think about more than what’s directly in front of them. If experienced managers could travel back in time to advise their younger selves, many say they would tell their younger selves to be more strategic in their thinking. New managers should envision where they want themselves and their team to be, not just where they are now, and manage themselves and their staff to reach those goals.
Think about tomorrow. What are the goals of the company and the department or team? What role will they play in that future state?
Again, management isn’t intuitive, and many people aren’t born managers. But with the right training and support, they can become excellent at it.
The Lindenberger Group can help organizations train and grow managers at every level. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.
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