What Can Go Wrong with Unprepared New Managers


Too many companies leave their new managers in the lurch. They hand out promotions based on an employee’s exceptional performance as an individual contributor. But they don’t provide effective new manager training to prepare the newly promoted employee for their new role and their new mindset. In a management position, instead of operating autonomously and being accountable for one’s own actions, new managers are asked to behave like leaders who are responsible for the results of others.

Most new managers have not been trained to think strategically and yet, as frontline leaders, they are the ones who must communicate the corporate strategy to their teams while designing, aligning and executing the strategy on the ground. They are no longer the ones taking direction; they are the ones who must effectively guide their team along an aligned path to achieving corporate priorities and measurable business results. When companies don’t invest in training their new managers in the skills they will need to succeed, there can be dire consequences for the organization.

Here is what can go wrong if new managers are unprepared. Their lack of understanding of what it takes and how to lead can:

  • Lower productivity
    New managers are apt to be task-focused rather than focused on strategy alignment and execution. They are likely to get bogged down in minutiae and delegate tasks rather than communicate and cascade overall goals. Team members then miss the opportunity to work more effectively. Their work is short-term and piecemeal. If team members are given a more complete picture of where the team is headed, they could streamline their activities and pull more collaboratively in an aligned direction.
  • Lower morale
    Unless given proper training and coaching, new managers risk becoming bad managers. Their intentions may be good but they need to know how to set clear expectations, delegate effectively, and support and manage the performance of their team members through the good and bad times. If their leadership is weak, morale will suffer and turnover could become a serious problem.
  • Lower engagement
    Managers are key to supporting the organization’s culture – how things truly get done. They, as much as anyone in the company, are on the frontline and should be expressing and living the behaviors the company wants to promote to be successful. Not only should they be setting the example, but they should also be skilled at coaching for the desired behaviors. Only a very few come by coaching skills naturally. New managers need to be taught how to give feedback regularly and effectively so that they have a positive impact on the performance of their team. They should be clear on the behaviors to be encouraged and set objectives and measures so team members know exactly what is expected of them.
  • Lower accountability
    New managers struggle with sharing information with their team. When they hold critical data to themselves, team members can’t work as efficiently toward team objectives. And when team members are denied important information about the company that could affect how they prioritize tasks, they begin to lose the trust that engenders respect for management and builds the relationships that support long-term growth. New managers need to understand how being open and transparent can build high-performing teams. In fact, based upon our latest organizational alignment research, if you are looking for improved business results, you need to be sure that information flows effectively and unobstructed throughout your organization. 81% of respondents who reported a high level of alignment agreed or strongly agreed that information flow was timely. Conversely, only 6% of companies who reported a low level of alignment agreed that information flow was timely.

The bottom line.  Better managers lead to higher levels of engagement, advocacy, discretionary effort, retention and productivity.

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