Enlighten your managers

You know, not everyone’s happy when they get promoted. Sounds strange, right? I know. But think about it… your employee, let’s call her Rhonda, is happily working hard and delivering results in her job. She is dedicated and always has her nose to the grindstone. Then one day you call her in to say how thrilled the company is with her performance and *GREAT NEWS* she’s being promoted!

Fast forward a few months, maybe a year, and Rhonda finds herself not jumping out of bed to get to work like she used to. You notice she seems to be acting strange – un-Rhonda-like – but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

You definitely thought you were doing the right thing by recognizing Rhonda and rewarding her with the promotion and the new manager title.  And that’s true – high-performing individual contributors deserve recognition and the opportunity to move up the ladder. Their success as leaders of people, however, depends on you. And the truth is Rhonda’s stressed out and starting to crack under the weighty responsibility of managing her team.

And you start to wonder…

  • Did I prepare her for this role?
  • Was she ready to be a manager and focus on a team first?
  • Does she know how to delegate?

No individual contributor has or needs to have these skills so becoming a manager is a pretty seismic shift that Rhonda, and many others, are just plain unprepared to handle. The following three pivot points are critical to accomplishing the mindset shift required to go from individual contributor to people manager. If you want your new managers to thrive in their role, focus your coaching on these three topics.

1. People as Their #1 Priority

Help new managers understand their number one priority is to engage, coach, and develop their people. Their success is no longer based on what they do as an individual, but instead on the results of the team.

  1. Help them assess where they are really spending their time. Is the majority of their time spent with customers, with reports/emails/metrics, or with their team? The simple act of defining their current reality is eye opening and a good place to begin.
  2. Together, look for specific, tactical ways to start to shift more time to developing people. Challenge their thinking, hold them accountable for change and check in on progress regularly.

2. Delegate to Develop

New managers are often reluctant to delegate. They may feel uncomfortable reassigning work, they may not know what to delegate, or underneath it all, they may be concerned that someone else on the team may do the job better than they could.

  1. Educate your new manager on the dos and don’ts of delegation. Make sure they have the tools and resources to understand what and how best to delegate.
  2. Share your own stories about delegation and what you’ve learned. Talk candidly about what might stand in their way of effectively delegating. Challenge them to overcome any personal barriers they have about doing so.
  3. Confirm they value delegation as an important development opportunity for team members. Together, strategize specific projects, tasks, or responsibilities that could be stretch assignments for team members. Stay close and challenge your new manager to take notice of the impact this has on team member engagement and overall satisfaction.

3. Know Your Team

Ensure your managers realize they need to learn about their team members as individuals – specifically, what each team member does best and where they can improve or build on existing skills.

  1. Challenge managers to use every interaction with their team as an opportunity to get to know them better. Regular meetings should not simply be focused on holding people accountable and getting a status update. Managers should also be listening closely and asking questions to understand what aspects of the work are most appealing to each individual team member.
  2. Hold them accountable for developing this knowledge and putting it to use. Knowing each team member’s strengths and what they want to do next will help shape delegation decisions and drive engagement.
  3. Role model this competency in your approach with your own team. Be deliberate and transparent.

As you promote your best employees, you have nothing but good intentions for their success, as well as their ability to make a positive impact on the company in their new role. But, don’t underestimate how important you are to their success as managers. Coach them and give them the tools and resources they need to make it happen. Rhonda is the perfect example. She loved her job and was great at it. She was promoted, but simply didn’t know how to manage others. The solution is relatively simple – help your people stop acting like individuals and start thinking like managers. With a focus on these pivot points through your coaching and support, your managers will be able to help their teams thrive. When your new managers truly know their role and their teams are performing at their best, this directly affects the customer experience your company delivers. Then, everyone wins.

August 24, 2017


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