Monday, March 21, 2011

5 Steps for Helping New Managers Succeed

By Davis Woodruff

What does it take for the newly appointed manager to succeed in the management and leadership job? This is the most difficult question of all after the right person has been matched to the job, of course.

1. The individual must be willing to learn. The newly appointed manager should not come in to the job thinking or saying, "I've got all the answers, I know the answers and I'm going to tell you what they are." They have to be willing to learn. The new leader needs to ask the right questions to "pick the brains" of the people who are doing the work, seek to understand the people, learn the processes and to really learn the new job.

2. Be sure the short-term and long-term expectations are understood. In this case short-term is 90 days to 6 months and long- term is one year and longer. If your supervisor has not explained what it expected, then ask. It is imperative that the new manager know and understand what is expected in terms of performance, behaviors and results.

3. The organization should provide the time and resources for development. That's the one that "bites" organizations and individuals many times. A technical expert is promoted one day and by action the organization says to them, "Sink or swim while you're learning on the job because we don't have time for you to take a week to go to this training (or we don't have time for you to take two days, or whatever time)."
Allowing the time for training can be a real issue because speed is a concern in every business today. It may appear that there is not time to allow a new manager to attend training. Well, time has to be provided for training if the organization expects the person to succeed in their new role. Remember the goal to insure success for the newly promoted manager.

4. Following up on work assignments is essential. Follow-up is simply letting people know you care by seeing that work assignments are properly performed. Effective follow-up is not "looking over the shoulder" of the worker, but is simply asking or observing how the work is progressing. It lets the employee know you care about them and that the work is important. Monitor the progress of the new manager to prevent troubles from occurring with personnel or other issues.
Once I worked for a manager who would write items in a journal. I soon learned that if he wrote it in the journal, I could forget it because he would never check on it again. However, if he didn't write it down, beware because it was a priority task. The bottom line is simply if the manager doesn't care enough to follow-up, why should the employee?

5. Coach them through difficult employee issues that arise. Don't leave the new manager out there to flounder in a "sink or swim" situation. Provide the daily, weekly and monthly guidance. If you are the manager of a newly appointed supervisor, then lead by example. Provide one on one coaching through difficult issues to help the new manager learn the background of issues and why certain decisions are should or should not be made in given situations.

Davis M. Woodruff, PE, CMC is an internationally recognized consultant, professional speaker and author who is an expert in showing companies how to be the low cost, high quality, environmentally responsible leader in their industry. The benefits he brings to his clients include: developing leaders; optimizing resource utilization; improving processes, quality and customer satisfaction; and saving time and $$$. Since 1984 he has served clients in 35 states and on 3 continents. Davis is the author of a full length book Taking Care of the Basics: 101 Success Factors for Managers, and dozens of published articles. He is a 1972 Engineering graduate of Auburn University, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Professional Engineer (PE). His consulting firm, Management Methods based in Decatur, AL, is now in its third decade. Davis can be reached at or for more information visit

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