When you’re supporting a newly promoted manager, you want to set them up for success so that they can develop into a confident, effective leader and amplify performance and culture. And arguably the most critical stage to support newly promoted managers is right at the beginning when they are transitioning to the role. But what are the key areas new managers need the most support in?
We’re here to help. We asked our community of ambitious managers from the world’s fastest growing companies to share what they most needed as new managers. We’ve compiled the top five so that you can use these as a guide when developing your new managers.
The top 5 things new managers need
#1: “I need to develop the soft-skills to be an effective manager”
What this means: Delivering feedback, motivating a team, running effective 1:1 meetings… These are foundational soft skills that are used day-to-day and can be taken for granted by seasoned leaders. In reality, nobody is born with these skills. They need to be learned, which makes them daunting for a newly promoted manager.
Why this is so hard: Most managers learn from trial and error. This is a poor experience for the employees involved, and increasingly unacceptable as the complexity of issues and expectations of team members rise. For companies, this approach makes it difficult to rely on consistent practices across managers. To build these skills, some companies invest in their own internal programs, which are hard to maintain and operate sustainably. Others invest in one-time trainings that don’t respond to the ongoing needs of managers.
How you can support managers: Set up a manager communication channel (e.g. Slack) or recurring forum for people to ask HR and execs for support. You can also find a training provider to teach soft skills.
2: “I want to shift my mindset from being an individual contributor to a people manager”
What this means: It’s a paradigm shift for new managers to focus on their team members achieving goals vs achieving their own goals. Often, managers revert back to old patterns of doing rather than managing (“it’ll take me longer to tell someone how to do something than it is to just do it” is a tempting quick-fix).
Why this is so hard: In short – managers are accountable for a lot of impact that isn’t directly within their control! It’s an entirely different job from being an individual contributor and requires systems and strategies to influence and set people up to succeed.
How you can support managers: Set clear expectations when someone becomes a people manager. We recommend creating a 30-60-90 day plan as though they are a new hire starting in a new role. Be sure to clarify how much individual contributor work they should continue doing and talk through how their days should change.
#3: “I need the right tools and resources to enable me to manage my team”
What this means: New managers spend hours seeking the right resources, often relying on Google searches and friends for advice. It’s no surprise that ambitious and time-poor managers are on the lookout for ways to be more effective – such as templates for 1:1s and reviews, feedback on how they’re doing, and advice.
Why this is so hard: The options available to managers tend to focus on leadership and theoretical frameworks that are difficult to put into practice. Managers often pass down tools and resources informally or reinvent the wheel and build templates from scratch, which can lead to user error and inconsistency. The process of compiling, updating, and sharing tools can be a full time job.
How you can support managers: If you want to DIY, crowd-source! Create a Wiki page and each month pick a topic like 1:1s. Then ask your managers to upload their favorite resources to that page. Alternatively, find a vendor or community with a curated content library of practical templates and how-to guides for managers.
#4: "I want to improve stakeholder management skills"
What this means: In addition to taking on the responsibility of direct reports, new managers are also introduced to a whole new world of stakeholders whom they need to influence and partner with to succeed.
Why this is so hard: The promotion to people manager comes with the expectation that managers will engage other teams, navigate conflict, and gain buy-in to achieve shared goals. In high growth organizations, stakeholders can change quickly and it can be easy to get out of alignment. Each stakeholder means unique interests, working styles, and communication preferences.
How you can support managers: We recommend that new managers sit down with their own manager and write down the list of stakeholders. Much like a new hire, it’s a good idea to “meet” each of them and talk about shared goals, how to work together, and when to meet and communicate.
#5: "I want more confidence"
What this means: The magic word: confidence! Great managers are rated for their confidence and vulnerability (which requires even more confidence!). But it’s pretty hard to start a completely different role feeling anything but intimated. Often, star individual-contributors-turned-managers are dealing with the double whammy of low confidence in their new role and no longer getting validation as a top performer.
Why this is so hard: For many, competence drives confidence. Many of our new managers feel the pressure to perform, but not many have the skills necessary to be competent in their new role. As a result, many managers are advised to fake it until they make it by bluffing their way through their early days while they develop the competence necessary for true confidence. However, without effective support the effects of this on newly promoted managers range from feeling “imposter syndrome” to potential business risk if a manager feels they can’t ask for help.
How you can support managers: Get your managers training on the soft skills they need to be a great manager and connect them to a support network of other managers. One quick win is to create a communication channel, like Slack, for managers. You can encourage people to call for help and have more senior managers role model this behavior.
The bottom line: what does this mean for everyone supporting new managers?
Making the transition to management is a complex and big leap. As managers progress, the job brings new challenges and complexity.
Building the right manager enablement can feel like an enormous task. How can you possibly develop a system that takes care of multiple new managers at scale?! With so many competing priorities, devoting the time, expertise, and resources to upskilling and supporting managers can be hard to come by.
Our advice: don’t go it alone! Find a partner who can help you invest in your managers with training, support, and practical tools. Not ready to find a partner? Start small with some of the tips we’ve shared here. If nothing else, give managers an easy path to support when they need it.
Want to learn more about how The Mintable can help you give your managers the tools, training, and community they deserve? Get a demo from our team today.