Tips for New Managers
Recently, I have been doing quite a bit of new manager training, which I love. First time managers are one of the reasons I became a coach. They often get very little support as they are getting started on their leadership journey. So, I have five tips for you if you are a new manager or if you know a new manager.
You’re a manager in your first 100 days. What do you do?
1. Assess your team. If you were promoted from within the team, you may have a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the team. If you are new to the organization or department, you’ll need to do an assessment of the team. What does this entail?
2. Listen more and talk less – I know you want to prove your worth and demonstrate you were hired for a reason, but less is more. Talk less and listen more. We’ve all heard the old adage – you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Put it to practice! Listen to both what is said and unsaid. Pay attention to body language while you are listening.
3. Do a listening tour of your new organization. Meet with your manager, peers, and stakeholders. Ask questions about what the team does well and what they need to do better. There is always room for improvement, so don’t be defensive. Your job right now is to listen. Make general and brief notes, and schedule time on your calendar immediately following your meetings so you can flesh in the notes. If you’re writing the entire time you are meeting with others, it could be unnerving. Often trust is difficult to develop if you are not making eye contact and listening intently. It’s not easy to attentively listen if you are trying to jot down every word someone is saying. Build in the time after your meetings to fill in the gaps from your shorthand notes. What themes and patterns are you seeing?
4. Meet with staff 1:1 and in groups. Ask them questions about their likes and dislikes, their impressions of the current state, and where they think the department should go. Try to listen with an unbiased ear. Take in what staff members share with you. They are close to the action and will have valuable insight. Also make sure you spend some time discussing their individual personal development and goals. Where do people want to go and how do they want to grow? Show an interest in their professional development and their evaluation of the department. I guarantee no one has asked them before, and they will be impressed that you took the time to ask the questions and listen. Are there any common themes from what you heard in your prior meetings?
5. Get some buy-in from your team. Once you have an assessment from your manager, peers, and stakeholders, get some buy-in from your team on the direction you think you should be heading. Consider doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to poke holes at what you learned during your listening tour. In the SWOT session, continue with your practice of listening more and talking less. Let the team drive the conversation and witness how they interact. Are there any interpersonal conflicts you notice?
Now that you have an outline of your department’s strengths and areas for improvement, it’s time to craft some goals. Where do you want to take things and how do you get there?
At this stage, it can be helpful to hire a leadership or business coach to help you craft your goals and objectives. A coach can be more objective than your manager, and can be a great sounding board as you try to determine next steps. A coach can help ensure you are on the right path as you start your new journey. Need a good coach or know someone who might? Give me a call.