4 Tips So You Won’t Fall Off the New Manager “Mountain”
Congratulations! You achieved your goal of moving from individual contributor to new manager. But you’re new at it and, despite having attended the new manager training program designed to prepare you for your new leadership role, you are feeling at risk. You’ve conquered the new manager mountain. Now what?
After over two decades of training and coaching new managers to adjust to and succeed as new managers, we have 4 bits of advice that will help you secure your position on top of the management mountain.
- Take time…but not too much.
Most new managers inherit a team and are challenged to effectively lead the team to reach specific goals. It is important to take the time to get to know individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses so you assign roles wisely. But it is also important not take so much time planning that you allow substandard performers to stay on the team for too long. Yes, work with them on a personal development plan. However, if they don’t measure up, move them on so the rest of the hardworking team does not lose motivation and so the performance standards do not sink.
- Focus on the future…not the past.
There is nothing to be gained (and much to lose) by criticizing the previous manager or team approach. As a new manager, do your best to assess what went well and what didn’t with the team so they feel as though you are all on the same page. With a clear understanding of past successes and failures, you can then move forward in a positive way and avoid alienating members of the team who are leery of the changes a new manager will typically want—and need—to make.
- Involve the team in planning for the future.
As you determine the best way to achieve team objectives, include the team in your thinking process. The more they are involved in choosing the path ahead and how they will contribute to the team effort, the more they will be committed to achieving results. Gain their buy-in and, along with it, their commitment.
- Ask for advice.
Nobody expects you to make all the right decisions right off the block as a new manager. You have a bit of a honeymoon period when colleagues will forgive a misstep or too. But don’t overdo it. Be ready and willing to ask for help as you enter this new management territory. Lean on more experienced leaders for advice on how to restructure a team, how to navigate through various established relationships to make the connections that can help you achieve results, how to gain the support of key figures and how to build a high performance team.
Basically, you need to pace yourself. Think through the consequences of any changes you are considering. Be thoughtful of how you handle the team members you have inherited. Be clear with your expectations of them but understand that they, too, are worried about how they will perform under a new boss. Your promotion to management is a positive one that you sought. Make sure the change for your team members is also a positive one that brings success for the team as a whole.