Rising Into Leadership: Preparing Your New Managers
It's always exciting when you're about to give an employee a promotion, but have you thought about how you're preparing them for this next step in their career? With a new job comes new responsibilities, and they might not be fully prepared for what is to come, especially if they are being promoted into a to a management position. So, what is the best way to transition independent contributors into effective leaders?
Moving into a management position is definitely a learning curve. A new role means a new work dynamic. Many must adjust from being a worker bee and completing tasks, to managing a team and handling new, complex issues as they appear. New leaders must learn to look at the overall big picture while taking care of their team.
Tips for Your New Managers
As a part of your employee development and human resources planning, it is crucial to guide your new managers to success. Help your new managers ensure effectiveness in their new roles by providing them with the tips below.
- Regularly ask for feedback from the team and determine each team members' preferences.
Managers need to learn what will and will not work best in terms of direction for each subordinate as well as what their employees expect from them. Ensure they know how to effectively communicate to their team to better understand preferred work and communication styles. This will allow the new manager to be aware of what to expect with the new team members, as well as help them figure out what they can do to become a better leader for their team.
- Align subordinates' interests with work goals to keep them motivated.
Leveraging the Interests data in the Birkman Signature report can reveal what projects and initiatives will make employees the most energized and engaged throughout the day. Understanding how each team member is motivated will show you care about their workplace satisfaction, and in turn can lead to greater retention and better results. This is a great tip for new managers because they are most likely joining a team with members they have not worked with before.
- Have one-on-ones with direct reports weekly.
Both personal and office politics can affect employees' work, so tackling any issues when they start can prevent larger problems down the line. Not only can one-on-one meetings solve challenges, it will bring a manager and their direct report closer together. Knowing what is going on in their personal life or what they are working on at work is great to know. Additionally, giving a private outlet where open communication is encouraged will help others become more comfortable voicing any dilemmas that are affecting their work to their superiors.
- Establish new relationship guidelines with those who used to be peers.
Maintaining friendships with those you manage is tricky. Establishing that work and friendships are separate is crucial for team success. Have the leader sit down with former colleagues and discuss the new dynamic out in the open. This will address the elephant in the room and lead to less complicated relationships.
- Make tough decisions for the overall good of the team but take into account others' opinions.
While it is the manager's responsibility to decide what is best on matters, in the end, it is important that they still gather their team's input. They must make sure their team knows that they listened to them and considered their ideas even when the final decision may not be the most popular. By encouraging conversation or having team meetings often, team members can share ideas, new strategies, or concerns as a whole, which will bring everyone together and work towards the same goals.
Shifting the Mindset from "Me" to "We"
For a manager, success is no longer about how well they perform individually but about how well their team performs as a whole. Shifting from "me" to "we" is essential because how their subordinates perform is a direct reflection of their effectiveness as a leader. Their successes are now the team's successes. The manager's goals should be aimed at helping the overall prosperity of the entire organization now that they are in a leadership position. They should work on leading their team to feel like their contributions are significant and make it evident that what they bring to the table matters. This will, in turn, increase employees' collaboration and commitment to the organization.
Are your new managers making time for their own work? It is crucial when starting a new leadership position to not get bogged down by every little detail the team is working on or irrelevant meetings. Managers often struggle balancing their daily tasks with their new duties and putting out fires each day. Their days may be consumed with back to back meetings, taking up their full schedule. This can be draining and unproductive. A good way to combat this is for them to block off an hour or two of their calendar each day so that they can get their own tasks completed. This will send a message to employees that their time is valuable, and it is important that they have a set time to focus on their bloated email inbox without interruptions.
When too much is piling up on a new leader's plate, they must learn to delegate tasks to their team. Individual contributors are used to completing projects themselves, and although they may have a precise way they like things to be done, it is their responsibility to hand them off to others. As a new manager, their job is simply to develop their employees and hand them the reins to do things as they see fit. They may have good intentions when trying to "fix" things, but taking over their team's work may be discouraging and prevent the manager from doing higher-level work. Letting employees figure out assignments on their own will help them grow and feel more confident in their own abilities.
Promote New Manager Learning
Encourage your new managers that making mistakes is all a part of the learning process. It is important that new managers avoid the tendency to blame themselves for every little thing that goes wrong. They should involve their team in determining courses of action. The best thing to do in this situation is for them to look at the issue, analyze what might have gone awry, and then figure out what to do differently the next time a similar problem arises. They must learn from their mistakes and continue to keep moving forward.
It is common for new leaders to have the misconception of thinking they are alone in this learning process. Remind them that it is okay to ask for help. Even those in management need mentors to guide them and give advice as new challenges arise. Although many are worried about looking incompetent when asking for help, most managers are relieved to find that their superiors are more tolerant of their questions and mistakes than they had expected. In a study by the HR consultancy DDI, it was found that 6 out of 10 managers feel that their career transition created stress and challenges comparably second to that of going through a divorce. Having a support system will alleviate this pressure so that they know they are not alone. Having a mentor is a resource, and they are usually more willing to help than one may think.
How Can Birkman Help?
Another way that has proven to help the transition between individual contributors to first-time managers is to immerse them in a training program prior to or during starting a new position. According to the Association for Talent Development, without proper training, 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years, and a survey from Grovo found that 87% of new managers expressed that they needed more training before switching into their leadership role. The first few months in a management role is a transformational experience that solidifies their leadership foundations and trajectory for their future. It's important that our future managers be prepared to excel to their best potential during this time. There are many quality training programs available such as Birkman's new Rise To Lead: Team Leadership program. It is designed to help new leaders improve their productivity and performance in order to adapt to the new demands in their new role.
Knowing what to expect transitioning into a new management position can be a challenge, but with the proper training, communication, and mindset, leaders can feel confident in their abilities and unlock their full potential to guide a team to success.
About the Author | Ashley Bannwart
Ashley is a native Houstonian and proud Aggie. She graduated Texas A&M with a Bachelors in Management Consulting and a minor in International Business. She works with both the Independent Consultant team, as well as the Marketing team at Birkman. Ashley has a passion for the arts and learning new things from everyone she meets. When she isn’t traveling back to College Station, Ashley is exploring cities all over the world, especially after living in France for 6 months. She continues to build upon her experience as she tackles new projects for the Birkman team with her immense creativity and determination.