Throwing new managers into the deep end and what to expect.
The phrase ‘thrown in at the deep end’ springs to mind when describing a new manager’s role. When we promote individuals to a management position, it can be a boost to their confidence and it is intended to represent recognition for their talent and the expertise they have developed.
Certainly clear succession planning and potential to be promoted in the future can often act as a significant motivator to individuals and encourages commitment.
If we do not follow up the promotion with adequate and appropriate support, what was meant to be a complement and recognition quickly turns into a nightmare. We are literally throwing our talent into the deep end without having shown them how to swim.
Having developed significant expertise in their field, the individual is thrown into a situation that demands immediate expertise – managing others.
Having the abilities, to influence and develop their team members (all of whom will have different needs) and harnessing the strengths in their teams, are not necessarily natural skills every new manager has.
All too often the emphasis is placed on the individual to miraculously become an expert manager.
The ‘thrown in at the deep end and see what happens’ approach can have far reaching implications:
- for the individual, it can be disheartening for the team they manage, it can be catastrophic in terms of morale & productivity
- for the wider organisation, the retention & loss of expertise issues can be damaging.
Simple interventions can often have an incredibly positive impact – helping the individual grow their expertise and enabling them to become great managers.
Below are a few tips to help guide you when thinking about how best to support new managers.
Coach, don’t boss them!
Be the sounding board and trusted advisor through which the new manager can feel safe exploring their new role.
A great coach asks questions without an agenda. It is not your job to get them to come to your solution. Nor is it your job to tell them what to do. You are going to uncover their greatness by asking great questions. You might help them improve their ideas with a bit of your wisdom.
Clarify their responsibilities, and their authority…
Just like any employee, new managers need clarity in their role. They need to know exactly what is expected of them, both tangibly and behaviourally. Clearing up any confusion on how the new manager’s success will be measured will remove the inefficiency of confusion and ambiguity.
Along with that, they need to know what decisions they have the authority to make on their own. Assigning responsibility without authority will lead to frustration every time.
Back them up
Every new manager makes mistakes, it’s your job to accept those mistakes, limit the damage from those mistakes and to make sure that your new manager learns from them. Be the leader you want your new manager to turn into.