The Survival Guide For New Managers

The Survival Guide For New Managers

The Survival Guide For New Managers
By Mark Wager

The majority of good companies around the world offer training, guidance and coaching whenever anyone starts a new position. The idea that they wouldn't receive a thorough training is just inconceivable, yet this happens every single day. Whenever someone gets promoted to a new managerial role, it's rare that they receive the standard of support they need in order to succeed so you see many good people struggle in managerial roles because they are just thrown into the role and are expected to just survive.

In this article I'm going to explore some of the key factors that new Managers have to remember in order to survive their first managerial role.

You are now bottom of a new ladder
You have two major advantages in your new role. Firstly, you have been given a position of responsibility which establishes a level of social expectation that people should follow you and secondly you will bring a level of expertise, most likely as a subject matter expert, which will influence your team as well but here's a big disadvantage. Management would be easy if it wasn't for one thing - people! Having a position of responsibility requires you to interact with people on a regular basis and people are complex and unique. To manage people successfully you need to have a good understanding of human behaviour and the drivers of motivation. This takes time, it takes quality training and requires experience. You are now bottom of a new ladder and you have a whole world of expertise to build.

Make sure expectations are clear.
When I get called into an organisation to provide advice on leadership or management issues the most common cause of performance breakdowns is down to a lack of setting clear expectations. The most dangerous question for any manager to ask their team is "Do you understand?" The most common answer is yes, yet later on, the results or lack thereof demonstrate that they didn't understand. Sounds familiar? In twenty five years of developing leaders I've never met anyone who lied when they said "yes, I understand" because they believed they did. It's difficult to know what you don't know. It's vital that every one shares the same understanding so instead of asking "do you understand?" ask people how they are going to perform the task. Look for applied learning rather than for agreement.

Define success
I coach many leaders and one of the first questions I ask is what does success look like. The quality and detail of their answers give me a very accurate idea of the current likelihood of that person succeeding in life. When you start a new managerial role it's likely you will have a new boss as well. Talk to him or her and ask if in a years time you both are celebrating a successful year what would that year look like and what would have to happen in order to make success a reality. Do the same with your team. Ask them what success looks like and what are their expectations of you. If you can share each other's expectations then it's easy to clarify roles and responsibilities and get everyone on the same page.

Aim to be a good person and you will become a good leader
Leadership and management are very different. Management is the responsibility and control over people and resources in order to achieve an objective yet leadership is the influence over people to achieve a common objective. Similar but different. If you manage people they will do what you tell them to do. If you lead people, you will find that you don't have to ask. Leadership is a massive topic, in fact there's over 50,000 leadership books published every year so in the time it's taken you to read this article somewhere in the world a book on leadership has been published. If I had to give you one piece of leadership advice so that you survive your first year as a manager then I would tell you to be the best person you can be. Focus on your personal qualities, your honesty, your integrity, if all you do with your leadership skills is to focus on becoming the kind of person that you yourself would want to follow then you will become a leader.

Align personal ambition to overall objectives
Your success as a manager will be defined by the performance of your team, no matter what you do if your team doesn't perform then you don't perform. One thing that successful managers do is to align each members personal ambition to the overall team objective. Talk to your team and ask people what drives them what do they want in life and when you discover their internal motivation then you need to link that motivation to the teams or organisations objective so people can see that by working towards the overall objective they are also working towards their own personal goals. Remember people will work hard for you but they will give blood, sweat and tears for themselves.

Ask for help
The last piece of advice I would give you in order to survive your new managerial role is to ask for help. Every successful person has a support network around them, people who will support them, give them advice and most importantly show them what they already know but don't want to admit. When you start at the bottom level of a company, you get a lot of feedback about your performance. If you make a mistake you will have a line of people telling you what you've done wrong yet as a manager feedback is more difficult to come by. People by their very nature, hesitate to provide feedback to their manager. Feedback is vital for progression so make sure you have people around you that will provide that feedback and if possible have a coach. If you heard that a top level performer in the sports world never had a coach you would be shocked, yet in the business worlds, coaches are not as prominent and usually are available only for top executives, yet any manager at any level, especially first time managers, will benefit greatly from having a coach they can turn to and seek advice from.

About the Author:
Mark Wager is an award winning Leadership Coach and Keynote Speaker who specialises in developing leaders across the Asia-Pacific region. Mark designs and facilitates leadership development programmes as well as offering individual coaching to leaders of all levels. Mark can be contacted via the enquiry form below.

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at

Posted: Monday 14 March 2016

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