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New Manager Madness: 3 Tips to Keep Your New Managers from Melting Down

New managers are created every day. We find an employee who does good work. They go above and beyond. People really like them. Then we slap them with a raise, a bunch of direct reports, and say “go get’em tiger!” Then we sit by as they struggle and perish. We get frustrated. And we wonder if we’ve made a mistake.

Well, ok, it’s not exactly like that. At least not every time. But truth be told, that’s how it ends up feeling.

We all know that most employees are thrown into manager roles without adequate training. It’s what we refer to today as “on-the-job training”. That would be fine, but check out how defines “on-the-job training”…

“Employee training at the place of work while he or she is doing the actual job. Usually a professional trainer (or sometimes an experienced employee) serves as the course instructor using hands-on training often supported by formal classroom training.”

What we do with new managers would make a lot of sense, if only they had access to, or time for, course instruction, classroom training, or even a coach to guide them “on-the-job”.

Instead, new managers have:

  • Crazy deadlines: You probably promoted them because you were in over your own head, and needed to spread the ‘joy’.
  • Resentful Peers: The disillusioned employees who thought they should have gotten the promotion instead.
  • Insecurity: They’ve never had to manage a diverse set of personalities coming at them from all directions placing incredible demands on their time. Not knowing how to manage personalities can be paralyzing to a new manager.

So how can you help your new managers from melting down?

  1. 3 Tips to Keep managers from melting downCoach, Don’t Tell

Have a weekly meeting with your newly appointed manager for the first 3 months. Your job during that meeting is to listen. To be the sounding board and exhaust system through which the new manager can feel safe venting.

In this meeting, you want the manager to feel entirely secure. Free from judgement. Ask the manager what his or her biggest struggle is right now, and then ask how they might go about resolving it. Then ask “how do you think that will work for you?” Then you can ask “what would be a different approach you could take that might work better?”

A great coach asks questions without an agenda. It is not your job to get them to come to your solution. Nor is it your job to tell them what to do. You are going to uncover their greatness by asking great questions. You might help them improve their ideas with a bit of your wisdom.

  1. Clarify Their Metrics

Just like any employee, new managers need clarity in their role. They need to know exactly what is expected of them, both tangibly and behaviourally. Clearing up any confusion on how the new manager’s success will be measured will remove the inefficiency of confusion and ambiguity.

Along with that, they need to know what decisions they have the authority to make on their own. Assigning responsibility without authority will lead to frustration every time.

  1. Have Their Back 

Do you have an older sibling? If you do, do you remember the first day joining them at high school? They were either going to pretend they don’t know you, or introduce you to some cool folks. You prayed it wouldn’t be the former.

Every kid wants someone to have their back… especially in a new environment. Same thing in business. The new manager will be juggling a thousand priorities. One of those priorities is bound to slip through the cracks. It is your job as their leader to cushion the fall, while still letting them learn.

Learn how to give feedback without throwing darts at people. The new manager needs you to be gentle, calm and rational. Be the leader you want your new manager to turn into.

Mary Engel
About the Author

Mary Engel is a global management expert and life coach based in Toronto, Canada. She helps managers and executives get personal and professional results faster. Visit her website to schedule a private consultation or to download her free ebook, Stand Out: 8 Tips to Enjoy Your Work, Get Recognized and Get Promoted.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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