New managers often feel as though they are entering the lions’ den. Many who are new as a manager are thrown into an unfamiliar situation with little guidance or structure.
For CEOs, hiring a manager with little experience can mean great risk — but also great reward. For CEOs who seek new ideas, fresh approaches, or even the opportunity to send a positive message internally around mobility, bringing in a low-experience manager is a move well-worth considering.
After all, managers thrust into leadership roles can and do thrive. But CEOs who have little time to “hand hold” — as well as their organizations — can help by implementing some best practices for managers with little experience.
1. Learn to Manage in the Middle
People are called middle managers for a reason. Often they need to balance the day-to-day needs, problems, and work of people who report to them. At the same time, they need to learn to communicate with senior managers effectively.
This balancing act is tricky to achieve. Communication and listening are key components to success. Understanding what your boss needs to be successful, and focusing your own work on delivering that success, is helpful. At the same time, new managers should take the time to understand their employees’ work, pressure points, and concerns. Communicating key goals … and helping employees see their roles in reaching those goals … is powerful.
2. Find Your Contributions … and Delegate
New managers often feel adrift, especially if they were in a task-based role previously. Managers need to find their footing and pinpoint the work that they need to do to contribute value.
But that does not mean managers should continue to do their old jobs or think that doing everything yourself is the key to success. Usually, it means exhaustion and burnout. It also doesn’t help employees help you to succeed.
3. Seek Early Wins
One way to be successful and credible is to identify some key early wins for your new team. Listen to your teams and if they’re telling you they don’t need the daily meetings, there’s an unnecessary process, or there’s a more efficient way to get work done, listen and act.
New managers are well served by listening to employees and finding some early wins.
4. Get Comfortable with Making Decisions
It can be challenging for managers to retain confidence in a new job. While you shouldn’t necessarily rush to make a decision on a sticky or complicated issue, you will need to make a decision. Be careful not to overthink and to be sure and make the decisions that need to be made. Will they always be right? Probably not, but that’s OK.
5. Find a Network
In your new role, you need a new network of peers, mentors, colleagues, and advisors. This may include some people from your previous network, but your new network needs new perspectives and insights. If you need to look outside the company at first, do so. You can feel alone in a new leadership role and need allies.
6. Keep Your Promises
It’s OK to say no, but often new managers want to please everyone, so they pile on lots of work. This can quickly lead to a credibility gap if you can’t meet the expected outcomes you’ve offered to others. That may mean you need to defer some work until you have a better sense of demands and workload.
Managing is an art and science. With careful consideration, business leadership begins to emerge.