Managers play a crucial role in culture-building at any company. You could even call them the guardians of workplace standards.
After all, it’s easier to hand down decrees about values from on high or even observe behavior rules quietly yourself than it is to direct, confront and correct others’ behavior.
This responsibility becomes even more difficult when the behavior you have to direct is that of former friends and colleagues — and that’s exactly what happens when newly appointed managers first step into their roles.
Moving into managerial ranks can be a uniquely stressful time. New managers are usually transitioning from roles they did well and felt comfortable in to new roles that take them completely out of their comfort zones.
Plus, new managers may be unlikely to ask for help, since they’ll want to prove that they deserved the promotion they just received.
So, if you want your managers to succeed, you must give them the tools and support they’ll need to thrive.
Provide Training on Key Management Skills
If an employee has never been a manager before, they’re entering a very unfamiliar world. Training on the following fundamentals will help them get comfortable with their new responsibilities and help them avoid mistakes that can do serious damage to office morale and culture.
Listening and apologizing effectively
Listening and apologizing are important skills for employees at all levels of your company. However, these skills are particularly important for employees when they become managers.
By listening attentively and apologizing sincerely, managers set the standard for what’s acceptable. Exhibiting this behavior paves the way for the rest of the staff to emulate it.
But managers also need these skills because they’ll need to listen, apologize, and just generally communicate much more often than they did before they stepped into managerial roles. Good managers attempt to build relationships with each one of their reports, and they have to work with them daily to motivate them, redirect them, and help them get their work done correctly.
Without solid communication skills, all of that work gets much more difficult, if not impossible. Good training will give new managers space to practice those new listening and apologizing skills in a safe space before they have to use them in the real world.
Responding to bad news with grace
If managers cannot accept bad news with grace, employees will never feel comfortable coming to them to report important problems or red flags. The earlier potential problems are reported, the easier they are to solve and the less damage they do. And ignoring problems can easily lead to poor morale, poor productivity and even lawsuits.
Good training will even give new managers scripts to use and physical directions such as eye contact and body language. It will teach managers how to manage their own emotions in the workplace so that they can respond to bad news without taking it personally.
Values should be much more than vague qualities that are listed on your website.
As we wrote in our post Action Tips for Values-Based Leaders, these values “drive how team members work, treat one another, and serve their markets or consumers year after year.” When your managers have truly internalized company values and understand the role they play in reaching their goals, they can use them to guide their decisions and every day actions.
Listening to employees carefully and with empathy, welcoming feedback and insights continuously, and acting with the company’s values in mind can help with the following management tasks:
- Setting goals and motivating the team: Engaging employees in the shared goals so that they feel personally invested in making sure they happen is another skill that new managers will need to develop. But employees are much more likely to get on board with goals if their feedback has been welcomed and they have a good rapport with the person handing down the directives.
- Managing performance and accountability: When managers check in regularly with teammates and can listen to them with empathy, it’s easier to give feedback and redirect behavior.
- Managing conflict between employees: When employees feel you truly have their interests in mind and you can tie all behavioral expectations back to consistent values, it’s much easier to handle conflicts between employees.
- Hiring and firing: Internalizing company values paves the way for managers to hire people with skills and values that the company needs, and recognize when a new hire doesn’t fit with those values.
Of course, they’ll need additional, tactical training on all of those topics, but connection and values pave the way for that training.
Show Them Support
Managers often feel isolated in their new roles. They can no longer relate to their colleagues the way they used to, and there may be little natural contact with other managers on a regular basis.
Solid training, including on the topics we just mentioned, is one way to show your support and understanding of their challenges.
Managers often feel isolated in their new roles and need plenty of support.
Here are a few other ways organizational leaders can support managers.
- Connect them with mentors: Connect new managers with more experienced ones, either higher up in the company or from another location. Arrange for them to meet regularly, if you can.
- Include them in decision making: Just as managers should include their own reports in their decisions, managers should be included in bigger-picture discussions about strategy. They’d rather be brought into the loop and understand the bigger strategy behind the operatives that they’re tasked with carrying out. They can lend important insights that no other type of employee can give.
- Provide a clear path for advancement: Few of your employees dream of staying in the middle management role. If they understand what they need to do and learn in order to move forward, and their hard work is recognized with increasing compensation and benefits, they’ll be less likely to get demoralized.
Finally, if you have any questions about how and why to train and support new managers, please reach out to us at ELI. We work with employers of all sizes to create civil workplace cultures that were built to last for the long-term.