How New Managers Must Set the Course and Let Go


As a new manager, you have to think differently if you are to succeed in your new role.

Based upon feedback from thousands of new manager training program participants, we know that newly promoted managers can no longer rely on their individual skills to succeed; a new supervisor’s success depends on the performance of their team.

New managers need to think differently—they need to focus not on their own development and results but on how others will achieve success, what development they will need and how they can achieve results. Managing means setting the course and letting go.

Setting the course
Successful teams are based on trust. As manager, you need to model this trust by working toward a situation where you can depend upon your team to work on the right things in the right way. This is how effective managers lay the groundwork for a high performing team they can trust to do the job.

  • Clear goals, roles and success metrics
    Ensure the organization’s values and strategy are clearly understood and that each team member understands how they need to contribute to the team effort. Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams.
  • Timely information flow
    Share information openly so team members have all the input they need to act with knowledge and confidence. In our organizational alignment research, the timely flow of information was the fourth most important ingredient to faster growth, higher profits and increased employee engagement.
  • Learning philosophy
    Use mistakes as learning opportunities. Missteps are inevitable but, when they are part of positive development, they serve a useful purpose. Teams that are so risk averse that they tend to inaction will never succeed to their full potential.

Letting go
New managers will not succeed if they try to involve themselves directly in every decision or project that their team has been tasked with. Here are some tips on how to lead, not follow:

  • Learn how to delegate effectively
    Be specific in describing the task, set the expectations for quality and timing, and agree upon a process for when and how to report progress or resolve issues.
  • Elicit solutions from others
    Don’t be too quick to provide answers. Encourage your team to come up with solutions they think will work and then evaluate them together. Look for their recommendations before you supply your own.
  • Attend only critical meetings
    Not all team meetings require your presence. When invited, review the agenda and decide if your attendance is necessary. Don’t lock yourself up in an ivory tower but, on the other hand, don’t waste your time in meetings that are unnecessary.
  • Be selective in choosing which tasks need your participation
    Sometimes your participation can slow down progress. People look to you before they act and hesitate to make decisions when you are in the room. Be thoughtful about when you are needed for guidance and when you simply need reports on results.
  • Focus on enabling others
    What resources and guidance do your team members need to handle their jobs more independently? Make sure they have everything they need to do their job.

New managers face challenges to be sure. But as leaders, they have the potential to impact others in a positive way. Make sure your new manager training programs make the most of it!

To learn more, download The 5 Warning Signs that Your Managers Are Falling Behind Strategically

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