7 Battle-Tested Ingredients of Great New Managers


Great new managers are made not born. They are a blend of talent, experience, attitude and desire. Here are some of the ingredients that are baked into a new manager with the “just right” combination.

Based upon insights fromthousands of new manager training participants, great new managers:

  1. Hire Right.
    They understand they need to not only hire for experience and specific knowledge but also for attitude and culture fit. Successful managers build teams that perform and subscribe to the company values and mission. New hires with the “right” resumes but the wrong attitudes will only pull down the team or leave.
  2. Set Clear Expectations.
    They understand that team members do not “get” what they need to do to succeed through osmosis. Successful new managers are very clear about what the results look like (goals and success metrics) and what each team member must contribute (roles and processes) in order to achieve them.
  3. Manage Performance.
    If you want to build a high performance team, substandard performers cannot be overlooked. When you have an employee who is not delivering what you expect in the way you expect it, you must look into the situation immediately. Find out what’s going wrong and then put together a plan to correct the problem. If, with support and understanding, there is no improvement, move the employee along in a way that makes sense. Otherwise, hardworking team members will lose heart and motivation, and team performance will suffer.
  4. Share Information.
    Our recent organizational alignment research found that information flow and transparency demonstrated the fourth highest influence between high and low performing organizations. Great managers foster open communication and know how to ask questions and then listen well. Team meetings should always encourage everyone’s participation and everyone should feel comfortable questioning decisions, offering alternatives, and examining failures with a focus on improvement. Environments where questions are squelched or new ideas ignored cannot thrive in today’s economy where the ability to adapt and change is critical.
  5. Balance Health and Results.
    Every leader must maintain an eye on the present as well as plan for the future. Of course every new manager has performance targets just around the corner and you need to have a clear, believable and implementable plan that will help you achieve the desired results. But great managers do not neglect planning for the long-term. They keep a keen eye on current and future team health and performance.
  6. Make Tough Decisions.
    Some decisions are difficult but necessary. Not everyone will agree with the decisions you make as a new manager. Think about when you had to let Mary go…she was well-liked but underperforming. You tried to help her, but she was unwilling. Moving her on was necessary for the good of the team, the company and Mary herself. Or what about when you had to cut back temporarily on flex hours. There was a period when everyone needed to be onsite at the same time or the objective would be missed. Yes, it caused some inconvenience, but it had to happen for the good of the overall team. Great managers make tough decisions for the good of the team in a way that makes sense.
  7. Model the Way.
    Great managers set the example. Followers follow…that’s what they do. If you model and reward hard work, integrity, and open communication, your team will strive to replicate those values. They will also understand when you make mistakes…as long as you admit them and show that you are open to learning better ways because you are committed to growth and improvement.

New managers can become great managers. They need to be self-aware and evaluate their own behavior in light of the great manager recipe above.

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