Q&A: Managing New Managers

Q: I just promoted an excellent supervisor to a manager. He is now managing what were his peers. He has become a totally different person. What did I miss and can you give me some ideas why this happened? What can I do to turn this around? I don’t want to fire him.

– Cindy, Retail

A: I have learned through my travels that there are five common mistakes individuals make when being promoted to lead their peers.

1. Acting Differently to Assert Power

Many typically like to make a quick impression that things are not the same as they were before because they are now in charge and no longer a peer. Because of this, they start acting different – 1st mistake.

When this happens, the new manager comes across as authoritarian and perhaps even heavy handed. They feel they need to quickly set themselves far apart from their peers. They may even insist on procedures and behaviors being followed that may not have appeared important to them in the past. This makes a poor impression to the team and they lose respect.

2. Trying Too Hard to Befriend Employees

Sometimes, the new manager may lack the leadership skills to “lead” and therefore lacks the ability to engage a strong team. The manager wants to be the employees “friend.” This is just as bad as the previous manager described above. Respect is gained through guidance, coaching and by a manager who rightly enforces expected standards. That is something a “friend” cannot do.

The new manager needs to approach their team as if they are leading a new team and not peers. The new manager needs to work with the team’s strengths and known weaknesses (and learned weaknesses) because a coached team member makes for a stronger team. The manager needs to “want” the team members to be ready for promotions as well.

3. Not Setting Expectations Early On

The new manager should always hold an expectations meeting in the beginning. This helps the team to be aware of the manager’s expectations and the team members will gain trust in the new manager and set expectations for themselves.

This meeting will bring the team together and expectations will have been established should corrective action need to take place.

4. Ignoring New Information About Team ‘Differences’

New managers may not be prepared to see the difficulties within the team. As a peer, the manager saw interactions much differently. The team may have always appeared to be very positive, which means the new manager would not have seen how different they were compared to team members not chosen. After the promotion – new things are seen, behaviors observed will now appear different and what appeared to be a cohesive team now may not be as cohesive as once thought.

When this happens, new managers tend not to be as understanding as their predecessors. The manager sees the team as a peer – not as their manager. This results in the new manager not leading but “being assertive” as if a peer. When this happens, the team feels the new manager is not being reasonable and even singling people out – picking on them.

5. Not Taking Charge

Newly promoted leaders are often not ready to take charge. This means they have not taken the time to think through what they are about to embark on and do not have a “plan of action.” A “plan of action” is a roadmap to keep focused and gain the trust from staff and direct the team to your vision.

An author once wrote, “Being a leader is difficult enough. Being promoted amongst your peers can be the hardest position to be in. If you plan, listen, and recognize that leadership is about promoting the successes of your team you will beat the 90% that fail at leading their peers.”

I was promoted from within my peers – I am amongst the 10% – and you and your new manager can be too; if you remember the five most common mistakes a new manager makes when being promoted from within. To be successful with this promotion, truthfully acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and then spend time coaching or secure a professional coach so your new manager will be a leader and not a supervisor.

Contact us at www.JeanneReavesConsulting.com if you have a question or if we can coach or mentor you or one of your leadership team members. Remember, your question is a question for someone else so please send in your questions and we may print it in our next newsletter. >>

By Jeanne Reaves
At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, Jeanne specializes in coaching executives in a variety of industries. As a certified Personality Consultant, Jeanne employs technology and techniques to help her clients understand their executive teams’ unique abilities, maximize their productivity and manage them more effectively to enhance earnings.