If you ask a successful manager where he or she learned the most about management, the answer is almost always the same: from a manager or boss who was a good manager, mentor or supervisor. I have had the honor of having a good chunk of managers and leaders in my career. I also have a bunch of stories of being managed poorly and I could fill a well with those!! The bottom line is developing new managers is not a ‘push a button get a peanut’ type of thing. Meaning, We can’t knight a new manager in this role and expect they will automatically know what to do and how to do it. We need to lead by example, give them the information they need to succeed and share the tools that will help them knock it out of the park! 🙂

Managers Learn by Being Managed Well

Managers learn how to manage by being managed well themselves as they grow in their careers. When you develop managers at your organization, you don’t just develop individual employees – you invest in those who will help develop the next generation of managers. Making sure your current managers are skilled, and helping them to continuously improve, is an investment in future managers as well.

Here are some of the traits of effective managers:

  • Responsiveness
  • Investment in employee development
  • Personal accountability
  • Speaking clearly and politely to colleagues, customers, and clients
  • Holding one’s self and one’s employees to high standards

Clearly Define Roles and Competencies

The first step in creating a management track is defining what managers actually do when they manage and what skills and competencies they need in order to manage successfully. Have you ever thrown a new manager into the pit and asked them to figure it out? Guilty here. ☹

Spend time clearly defining the different roles that managers play in your organization. Based on those roles, create a list of core competencies managers need in order to be successful. Job descriptions and interviews with current managers can also be useful here, as can spending some time talking to lower level employees about their experiences being managed. Make sure that competencies are measurable as well, so that this list can be used in evaluations and professional development plans.

Provide Tools

Imagine someone asks you to build a house. They leave you with a stack of lumber — but no hammer, nails, or saws — and tell you they’ll be back in a week to move in. No matter how smart, motivated, or creative you are, you can’t build a house without tools! The same is true of your employees. Even the most motivated and intelligent new manager will struggle if not given the tools needed to succeed.

So, that’s exactly what I’m learning this week. We have the tools for new managers, but we’ve done a poor job of communicating those tools and fielding questions about them. DOH! This is a byproduct of moving too fast and not taking the time to set folks up for success.

Fixing It

Here’s what we are doing now to fix that:

  1. Holding training with our team managers so they know what tools exist and how to use them.
  2. Allowing them to ask questions in and out of those sessions so they know how to do what we are asking them to do.
  3. Setting up 1:1 sessions with those managers to mentor them and field questions over time regarding the tools and behaviors that are needed in their roles.

So, what sets us apart as good or poor leaders? Knowing when you’ve flubbed up and building a course of action to fix it! We all make mistakes; it’s how we own up to those mistakes and rectify them that really matters.

What is the #1 lesson you have learned as a manager and leader that you carry with you to this day?

Let’s have a conversation about developing new managers, just you and me! You can schedule a time here. There is no cost. This is not a sales call masquerading as a strategy call. I just want to support you. The topic is up to you.

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