How To Make Sure New Managers Thrive From Day One

August 10, 2023

Contributor: Jordan Turner

These four strategies will ensure they’re set up for success.

Whether they’re brand new to overseeing a team or managerial veterans, manager success is a large ask these days. More responsibilities and expectations have made the role, well, unmanageable. 

“A successful new manager transition benefits more than just the new manager,” says Colleen Adler, Director, Research at Gartner. “Direct reports of managers who receive an impactful onboarding show a 14% increase in performance, 15% increase in intent to stay and 13% increase in commitment to the organization and team.”

Help managers embrace people management

While they may be elated by their promotion or new role, it’s natural for new managers to feel hesitant and lack confidence for a variety of reasons: disciplining a former peer, managing co-workers who are older, avoiding favoritism, admitting mistakes, etc. 

Our recommendations:

  • Conduct regular check-ins with new managers about their understanding of people management and whether that falls in line with the organization’s views. Ask:

    • Is your career following the progression you imagined it would?

    • Would you rather have been given more responsibility as an individual contributor than being made team manager?

    • Do you understand the skills necessary to effectively manage your team? What are some of the resources you are using to develop these skills?

  • Help build excitement and confidence for their new role, in addition to ensuring they understand what it entails.

Encourage self-reflection

It’s typical for new managers to replicate and amplify the successful behaviors they exhibited in previous roles without understanding that a new management role requires a sometimes difficult shift in the way they work. 

Our recommendations:

  • Seed a start/stop/continue model as it applies to their new role.

  • Help identify their top managerial strengths and how to apply them in their new role.

  • Prompt them to reflect on derailing management behaviors they’ve experienced and use these to learn how to manage differently.

Foster networking

The pressure to drive employee performance and engagement, along with business impact, pushes new managers to try to deliver results as soon as possible. But the reality is, the initial months are often demanding and new managers would do well to spend some of that time building strong relationships with the right people — the people who will provide access to years of wisdom and valuable expertise, especially on hybrid teams where there’s a lack of visibility into work being done.

Our recommendations:

  • Encourage new managers to set up conversations with the previous team manager, their peers and their direct reports.

  • Provide a “cheat sheet” on engaging with their network to help them make the best of their conversations and relationships. This can be as simple as a key contacts list with notes as to why each person is important.

Prompt them to work through others

It’s important to learn to trust one’s team and own your management style enough to let go of the work, while being there for support. Win as a team, through your team. “Our research shows that coaching and developing others and building psychological safety within teams were the top two leadership capability gaps in frontline managers, as voted by HR leaders,” says Adler. 

Our recommendations:

  • Educate managers on the importance of sustainable performance and its impact on team performance and satisfaction. Guide managers on how to identify quick wins, and teach their team to do so, too, as part of a collective process.

  • Offer up resources on how to grow psychological safety within the team, so that team members are more trusting of each other and are open to hearing new ideas and participating in discussions.

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