The Greatest Risk for New Managers

by Mar 26, 2017NEW MANAGER TRAINING

We know from thousands of new manager training participants that new managers are typically risk-averse. They often do not want to come aboard and make quick decisions that rock the team boat to the point where they take on water and sink.

In an ideal world, new managers would attend targeted new manager training and have the time and resources to gather all pertinent information before they have to make an important decision. They would be able to assess the options, weigh the rewards against the risks, and choose the best path ahead. But the business world typically moves too fast for this luxury in decision-making. And the time and resources spent gathering all the information present the greatest risk of all for most of our high growth clients…the loss of opportunity.

New managers, don’t let your management decisions be diluted by the greatest risk you face – being dependent upon an extreme need for information.

Sometimes you need very little information as a new manager.
How about when you are deciding where to take a client for dinner? You should know, for example, if your client has clear food preferences, and you should know the reputation, price and location of an appropriate restaurant or two. But you don’t have to research every restaurant in the area nor do you need to evaluate every item on the menu. 50% of the information should be sufficient to make a good restaurant choice.

Surprising to many new leaders, the same is true for many day-to-day decisions regarding priorities, performance management, projects and stakeholders.  To be more decisive, the best new supervisors focus only on the critical few pieces of information required to answer their key questions or solve their big problems.  If what you are discussing or gathering is not related to the urgent and important matters at hand, you are probably off track.

Sometimes you need more information as a new manager.
Let’s say you have been asked by a client to run a complimentary pilot program in anticipation of winning a contract for rolling out the program company-wide. You need to wisely assess the upside (a huge deal) and the downside (no compensation for the pilot). Before making the decision, consider what you do know…the reliability of the client, their backing at high levels, how the program is prioritized against other organizational needs, if there are others in competition and the criteria for success of the pilot. It would be great to know just who will be attending, how the go/no-go decision will ultimately be made, how protected the budget for the roll-out is, etc.

But there is risk in waiting too long to understand all the answers. You could be considered “hard to do business with”; you might lose credibility because you don’t appear to have sufficient faith in your program; and you might lose the momentum so the client looks to a competitor for the program. In this case, 75% of the information may be all you need to be thoughtful and decisive.

The balance
New managers, especially, need to balance the level of risk and potential payoff with their need for sufficient information to make a good and timely decision. They need to learn how to focus on those factors that matter most rather than trying to fill in all the blanks. Today’s rapid pace of business will not allow having 100% of the information before decision-making.

Are your new managers prepared to be decisive in the face of uncertainty?

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