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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

how should new managers be trained?

It's practically cliche at this point to point out that new managers don't get enough training in the art of management, but I haven't seen a lot delineating exactly what topics new managers should be trained in.

Here's what I have on my outline for training new managers:

1. What exactly is a manager responsible for? I posted a list of manager responsibilities here recently.

2. Oversight: How to determine the appropriate amount and how to exercise it. Some employees need more interaction and oversight than others, and it's the manager’s job to determine how much is appropriate for each employee. What systems will the manager use for checking in and staying apprised of her employees' projects?

3. Feedback: the importance of giving regular feedback, making sure that employees know what they do well and where they need to improve. Withholding criticism out of fear of hurting an employee’s feelings does that employee a disservice, and that if a manager has complaints or concerns about an employee and the employee doesn’t know it, the problem lies more with the manager than with the employee. (And similarly, if you have an employee who rocks your world and the employee doesn't know that, something is wrong.)

4. Morale: the importance of looking out for staffers' morale and quality of life.

5. Public image: how to make sure employees are maintaining the organization's public image.

6. Employee policies: managers need to be familiar with all employee policies and understand that applying them inconsistently could create legal consequences. I scare them about these legal consequences.

7. Working with other department: how to work most effectively with other departments and the need to act in a gatekeeper role when other departments send work your way. How should the manager handle conflicting priorities?

8. Determining when to escalate things up the ladder and when the manager is authorized to act on her own.

9. Staff performance problems: what's expected of managers when a staffer is struggling, tools available to a manager in such situations, and how to be clear, direct, and specific about the standards of a job.

That's the basic outline that I use at the outset. Then I try to mentor new managers, so as challenging situations come up, I can hopefully help them navigate them.

What's on your own list for training managers? Or what do you wish someone had trained your manager in?


Anonymous said...

This may sound like a given but I find some managers need to be told their employees are NOT their children and shouldn't be treated that way. I once overheard a manager say to their employee "don't you get smart with me". I just about fell out of my chair!

Jen S McCabe said...

Ah, GREAT topic.

Things I wish the Secret Successful Manager's Club had told me when I joined:

1. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. CLEARLY. PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE AND ENCOURAGE FELLOW MANAGERS TO DO THE SAME. Don't assume your expectations and the organization's needs will be apparent to coworkers. Err on the side of being overly forthright when discussing expectations, job roles, etc.

2. Guess what - it's no longer about your individual work achievements - it's about mentoring/coaching your team to achieve.

The most valuable thing I can give as a manager is my time... to listen, observe, coach, support, etc.

In other words, what I get done in a day is SECONDARY to making sure the team is operating a high level and trucking right along towards achieving organizational goals (and guess who's job it is to remind them of said goals...).

2. Treat me like an adult, and I will do the same for you.

3. Never delay bad news but do have a constructive way to communicate strategy planned (ie never announce bad news and not present actions/reactions the organization is taking to improve and ensure XYZ will never happen again); it only festers and is more likely to be leaked via the gossip grapevine.

4. "Never answer every employees every question" - Leading/managing does NOT mean jumping in and solving every difficult situation and/or presenting the magic bullet for coworkers. I do them a disservice this way, and should not resort to micromanaging.

5. "Arrogance, envy, and untamed ambition often lead to poor decisions." Get over yourself!

6. The best managers are not those in love with the title or perks, but those passionately engaged in the pursuit of a larger goal (strategic, development, etc). The greats are able to transmute that passion and motivate the team to engage in similar pursuit.

7. "Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means." - Albert Einstein. If you think no one will notice you're constantly 10 minutes late, having a bad morning, or that you got a new haircut (all things I've done), think again. As a manager you're under a microscope. It can be intimidating at first but as in most other things, knowing is half the battle.

8. As managers, our ultimate job is not to develop ourselves but to develop our people (although by managing well we also learn and grow tremendously). We should support/create other leaders, not followers.

9. My favorite go-to quote for tough decisions: "Good managers make their decisions first for the sake of their organizations, second for the sake of their group and third for the sake of themselves." As one of my direct reports so wonderfully put it "you're in a daily battle not to be selfish."

10. Use the AAD method for moving from conversation to implementation: 1. Analyze/Detail Action, 2. Assign, 3. Deadline.

And finally - you will have to make decisions. Ones other people don't want to make. Ones that will be blatantly obvious. Difficult ones. Don't put this aside or try to slough off the responsibility on someone/something else.

You will also make mistakes. Large ones. Apologize. Say what you learned and what you will do differently. Manage others by providing an example; manage yourself.

Anonymous said...

How I wish every organization would realize the benefit of providing leadership training before appointing people as leaders. Too many systems offer everyone the opportunity to fail by failing to develop leader behavior in leaders. Sadly, many organizations apoint leaders through the seniority have the most tenure, poof, you're the new leader.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with not treating your employees like your children. I thought I was the only one who experienced this. I am one of the younger managers in my company. One day I said something cheeky to my boss's boss just joking with her and she said "Do I have to put you over my knee?" I laughed thinking she was joking too, but then she said a spanking would do me some good. I didn't know what to say or how to react to that so I made up an excuse to get out of there and get back to work. That is probably what she wanted but she could have just said get back to work. This woman is only about 5 years older than me so its not a generation gap. It was just weird though.

wdywft said...
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