Permalink to Three Mistakes Newly-Promoted Managers All Make – Part Two

Three Mistakes Newly-Promoted Managers All Make – Part Two

Trying to be friends with staff Managers need to provide a balanced view of performance, both the halos and the warts, and if the manager is trying to be friends with staff, it’s much harder to give tough feedback

This is the second part in a three part series on mistakes newly-promoted managers all make. Part one can be found here.

Friendly newly-promoted manager

Chris was very excited when he was given the news that he was being promoted to team leader but he was a little nervous as well. He had worked very hard to prepare for his interview but he knew that one of his team mates, Marty, had also very much wanted this role. He knew that Marty had expected to win because he had told everyone on the team that he thought he was the best one for the role.

Chris was determined to treat everyone equally and be a really good team leader but he knew it would be hard. Perhaps he could take the team out to the pub at the end of the first day and treat everyone for a drink.

Everything went fairly well for the first month except that Marty was taking advantage of Chris’ good nature. When Chris had asked the team to follow a particular approach, Marty openly disagreed and when Chris insisted, Marty shrugged and said, “Okay,” but Chris could see that Marty was only giving lip service to the new approach.

Over the next month, Chris tried everything he could think of. He tried taking Marty out for a drink to try to persuade him to put more effort in. He tried pointing out to Marty why the approach was a good one. He tried pointing out to Marty that he was shooting himself in the foot because he was losing some goodwill from his fellow team mates. Nothing seemed to get through to Marty who stubbornly continued to tell his fellow team members that Chris was not on the right track.

Chris’ boss George, called up Chris and arranged a meeting. “Chris, I understand that things are not going very well with Marty,” he said. Chris nodded. He explained how frustrated and disappointed he was.

George asked him what he had tried. When Chris laid out his strategies, George listened and then asked him a key question. “And how is that working for you?”

Chris had to admit that he was at a standstill with Marty.

Your team, not your friends

George then pointed out that Marty was making a classic mistake. Chris had been trying to deal with Marty as if he were primarily a friend. “You are no longer just Marty’s friend, Chris. You are his boss. That’s what we are paying you to be. You weren’t wrong in trying the friendly approach but Marty is a tough nut. The friendly approach is not sufficient with him.” George also pointed out, “If you want to get your team working well for you, you will have to be intentional about how you play out your role. Effective teams have effective leaders who are intentional about how they lead. That’s what I’m looking for from you.”

They talked about how Chris could get tough. “You have to really lay it out with Marty. He’ll take advantage of your friendship if you don’t. You have to be really intentional about this. The team’s success depends on it.” They made a strategy together. Chris and George agreed that if Marty didn’t respond to this approach, they would create another strategy where there were consequences for Marty.

A business discussion

Before the end of the day, Chris had booked a meeting with Marty for the next day. It went very well, and by the end of the meeting, Chris was confident that Marty understood what he had to do. What did George suggest? Here was the strategy:

  1. Book a meeting room for the conversation – context matters – by booking a meeting room, it signalled that this was a business meeting and was serious. (Not in a pub which was more social and suggested that they were of equal rank.)
  2. Chris was to ask Marty to listen without commenting until Chris had laid out his point of view.
  3. Chris as then to share a very specific description of Marty’s behaviour and its impact on Chris and on the other team members.
  4. He was then to ask Marty, specifically, for different behaviour (commit to following the approach and support the him and the team). He was to ask for Marty’s reaction by saying, “Do you understand why this is important to me?”
  5. Finally, the plan was that If Marty then acknowledged Chris’ points, then Chris was to ask that he step up and fully support the new approach. If Marty waffled or argued, Chris would repeat the question until Marty acknowledged his point of view. (Broken record technique)
  6. Finally, Chris kept the meeting brief and thanked Marty for his time. At no time, did he ask for Marty’s friendship or imply that this was anything but a business discussion.

Chris was fortunate that he had a boss who understood his dilemma and had a very good strategy to suggest. By focusing on the team and how Chris needed to get the team working together, Chris was able to retrieve the situation. Ultimately, Marty fell into line and Chris was able to show his intention in terms of leading the team.

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Please reach out to Bill or Esther regarding your team challenges. If more comfortable, contact our concierge at concierge[at]bigtreestrategies[dot]com who can direct you to information about our services that will be applicable to your current needs.

Permalink to The Top Three Mistakes Newly-Promoted Managers All Make

The Top Three Mistakes Newly-Promoted Managers All Make

There are some classic mistakes that newly-promoted managers make. Knowing about them and the techniques for avoiding them can help a new manager make a great start to their role.

This is the first in a series of three blogs on the topic. I will identify the three mistakes and give you techniques to not only avoid them but to grow and thrive as you start to develop the foundation of your management strengths.

Three Newly-Promoted Manager Mistakes

  • Trying to do it all – not delegating Sometimes newly promoted managers forget that the way to prove their worth is to get things done through others
  • Trying to be friends with staff – Managers need to provide a balanced view of performance, both the halos and the warts, and if the manager is trying to be friends with staff, it’s much harder to give tough feedback
  • Pushing to be promoted before you’re ready– In their zeal to grow their careers, some managers apply to senior jobs too quickly in order to get ahead. All they prove is that they don’t yet have the judgement to know the growth they still need to make.

Not delegating?

One of my clients, George, a newly-hired Controller, had the disconcerting experience of having his new boss stop by his desk one night. It was 7 pm and George was still working, trying to get a handle on some cost analysis. His boss barked at him, “Is there something wrong with you? Does the fact that you are still here at this hour the fourth day in a row mean that you can’t actually do the job I hired you for?”

George stared at his boss, slightly panicked and not knowing what to say. His boss went on, “I don’t expect my managers to do everything themselves. If you are still here this late, day after day, you are either not smart enough to do the job or you are trying to do all the work yourself. You choose. You will either learn to delegate or you will burn out. I know what I would prefer. Let me know what you decide,” he stumped off.

George was shocked but it was a very useful wakeup call. Had he been delegating enough? Not likely. And he had to admit that staying until 11 pm for days in a row meant that he was too tired to do a good job the next morning.

You can’t do it all alone

From then on, he  decided he must change his ways. He analyzed the work. He met with his staff and portioned it out so that he was not the first preparer of the information but the reviewer of it. It was the beginning of a great career that eventually saw him become CEO of a publicly traded company and a very successful businessman.

George would tell you today that if he hadn’t learned that lesson, he would never have been so successful. And from then on, he always applied the principle of asking himself, “Should I do this work, or should I delegate it?” He became a more intentional leader and his people grew and he grew along with them.

Steps to start delegating

How did George do it? The biggest change was to follow the two points below – changing his mindset, and asking one question about each piece of work he handled:

  • He changed his mindset about his staff. He decided to be intentional about growing the capabilities of his team. He knew he couldn’t prevent problems his staff would have as they learned and stretched beyond what they knew,  but he could make sure they learned the most from whatever happened
  • He asked himself weekly, “Who should do this work and what support do they need from me?” He made an effort to get work off his plate that others could do, or be trained to do.

Delegating, or, not delegating can be one of the hardest things for newly promoted managers to get right. Drop us a line and share with us your delegation challenges, perhaps we can help. Rapidly we can get you or your managers to leave behind the behaviour of not delegating. Our system is a consistent, coachable and repeatable program you can quickly learn and apply.

In my next post, I’ll explain the second mistake newly-promoted managers make – trying to be friends with their staff.


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