You’ve recently promoted someone to management. This newly-promoted manager just isn’t cutting the mustard. How long do you wait before you replace and reassign them?
My question is: What have you done to set up this new manager for success in this entirely new and different role in the organization?
SINK OR SWIM! This approach is used by many organizations when promoting new managers. Shove the person into the deep end of the pool to see how they do! (Side-note: This may have been your OWN indoctrination into being a brand-new manager. Know that the cycle can end with you!)
INSTEAD, I recommend taking the “Swimming Lessons” approach. Coach your newly-promoted manager to use three important Strokes for Success.
Stroke for Success 1: Gaining a Wider View
Your newly-promoted manager must figure out how to balance day-to-day activities with the Big Picture. This can be challenging for those who love details and are skilled at responding to emergencies. They need to learn how to think from a new perspective. For instance, where is the organization heading? How will this team contribute to that Vision? What is the longer-term course of action for the team to achieve those objectives? Where are potential challenges or barriers? What opportunities or improvements are possible? How does the plan need to be adjusted for the team to be successful? As effective managers already know, it is critical to keep the Big Picture in mind while managing the day-to-day.
Engage in a coaching conversation with your newly-promoted manager to hear their responses to those questions. If they have a clear grasp of the Big Picture, give them a verbal pat on the back! If not, educate on these aspects. Help them see why they need to be strategically thinking beyond the day-to-day and the status quo. Have them articulate these concepts in their own words.
Stroke for Success 2: Accountability
Team members are hyper-focused on their own tasks. They are busy coordinating their part of the work within and across teams. Your newly-promoted manager was probably good at this, which is why they stood out to you to begin with! But now instead of doing all the things, they need to ensure that the others are doing all the things.
Some new managers are reluctant to “boss people around” for fear of ruffling feathers. Others enthusiastically dive into dictatorial direction-setting. However, as effective managers already know, there are positive ways to provide clear direction and ensure expectations are met. It is crucial to provide feedback to address problems or offer praise. New managers may not know what a good accountability process looks like. In some cases, they may lack the language to use when setting expectations or providing feedback.
Engage in a coaching conversation with your newly-promoted manager to provide them feedback and coaching on their accountability process. Which parts are they doing effectively? Be specific. Give examples. What could be done better? Be specific. Give examples. Ask how they would handle a situation differently. Help them identify an approach that works for them.
Stroke for Success 3: Delegation
Every manager needs to have a process for identifying when and what responsibilities or decisions to delegate to others. New managers have all kinds of reasons for not delegating – and not knowing how is one of them. But, as effective managers already know, they can’t survive or thrive without delegation!
Engage in a coaching conversation with your newly-promoted manager to understand how they choose to spend their time. What meetings, tasks or projects are they working on, and why? Which aspects of their management role are they not doing (or avoiding!), and why? What could be delegated to a team member who could handle it or who could develop some skills by taking on the task? Help them think through the who-what-when-how aspects of their delegation approach, and help them see the benefits of delegation.
It takes coaching and practice to get results when we learn any new skill. And there is cause for celebration as we see growth and mastery! Engage with your new manager in these Strokes for Success and you will experience the personal satisfaction that you made a good choice. In addition, your newly-promoted manager will grow in their confidence and competence in their new position!
To you, I say, “Swim On!”