Getting Your Management Career off to a Great Start

For decades, I’ve been talking to new managers about their biggest challenges. One thing I still hear over and over is how hard it is to balance being the tough boss and being the nice boss. I think this feat is especially difficult for the new manager who started as a high performing individual contributor, was promoted, and is now managing former colleagues and friends.

This common first-time manager dilemma reminds me of my longtime friend and coauthor Don Shula, legendary coach of the Miami Dolphins. In our book Everyone’s a Coach, he says it is more important to be respected than to be popular.

I offer two pieces of advice. First, think back to a leader who inspired you to great performance. More than likely it was someone who combined toughness with compassion. You knew that person cared about you, but also that they would not let up on you in the quest for excellence. To achieve this balance you need to set high standards to make sure each person on your team is adding value to the organization. You also need to be present for them to offer support and direction along the way. You must be willing to set stretch goals with your people, pushing them beyond their comfort level—and then you need to help them achieve those goals.

This is where the art of communication comes into play.  Having honest and open conversations with your people when setting goals, providing feedback, and giving direction will pave the way to building mutually respectful relationships with them.

My second suggestion is to ask for training. Our research shows that more than 40 percent of new managers go years without receiving any training in their new role! That’s incredible. Is it any wonder that 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in the first two years? Without proper managerial training, you are likely to develop poor habits that will prevent you from being as effective as you need to be. And those poor habits you developed early can become the familiar, comfortable behaviors that will be more difficult to change as time goes by.

For example, as a new manager you might find it hard to delegate—especially if you were a successful individual achiever who was promoted into a management role. But even though it might be easier and faster to do some tasks yourself, you must learn how to get work accomplished through others. If you don’t delegate, your direct reports might see you as a nice boss, but if you show each person you care about their development enough to require them to carry their own weight, they will respect you as their leader. This relates back to Coach Shula preferring respect to popularity.

Are you ready to ask for training to learn the skills you need to get your management career off to a great start? And are you ready to push your people to find the greatness within themselves? I guarantee if you focus on both of these issues, you’ll set yourself and your team up for success.

Meeting the Challenge of Being a First-Time Manager

Congratulations! You got that promotion you’ve been waiting for. You are a first-time manager!

My guess is that you earned your promotion by being a high achiever—and that’s fabulous. Keep in mind, though, that the skills that helped you succeed as an individual contributor are not necessarily the same ones you will need to achieve success as a manager. That’s why I’m so excited about our First-time Manager program, a new training program I’m working on with Linda Miller and Scott Blanchard that will help new managers master the skills they need to make it through this major transition.

In our research, we have found that first-time managers must deal with three new realities.

The first new reality: First-time managers must shift from being responsible only for their own work to managing the work of others, as well. As a manager, they need to work with their staff to set performance goals and then manage that performance along the way. This can be challenging when dealing with someone who is underperforming.

The second new reality: It can be emotionally challenging to manage a group of former peers who are now direct reports. Some new managers report suddenly being unfollowed on social media or not invited to lunches or other group activities. This can make a new manager feel as if they are alone in their new endeavor.

The third new reality: Managers have a greater level of impact than non-managers. Not only are they responsible for helping their own team succeed, they now play a role in the overall success of the organization. They must manage new relationships, both with their people and with other leaders in the company. And they now serve two groups—their direct reports as well as their own leader.

If this all sounds pretty daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Learning how to communicate effectively will set first-time managers up for success. I believe that leading is something you do with people, not to them. So knowing how to hold conversations that strengthen relationships and build trust will get your management career off to a great start.

Our new program focuses on four critical conversations new managers need to master: Goal Setting, Praising, Redirecting, and Wrapping Up. In the next few weeks, I’ll go into detail about how and why to hold these conversations and I’ll also show you four skills that will further improve the quality of your communication with others. You’ll learn how to Listen to Learn, Inquire for Insight, Tell Your Truth, and Express Confidence in each interaction. These tips will improve your relationships with your team, your colleagues, and your leaders.

In the meantime, celebrate your success in your new role—and be open to learning how you can make a positive and fulfilling transition to being a first-time manager!

Praising Performance to Build Confidence, Productivity, and Morale

Business People Talking On Business MeetingI ask people all the time, “How many of you are sick and tired of all the praisings you get at work?” I always get the same response—laughter. It’s sad how many managers spend their time pointing out things that are wrong with performance instead of catching people doing things right. That’s why Spencer Johnson and I encourage you to focus on the Second Secret of The New One Minute Manager®, One Minute Praisings.

After you have set clear goals with someone, it’s important to spend a good amount of time with that person to make sure they are set up for success. In fact, let people know you’re going to give them lots of feedback on their performance because you believe in their talent and you want them to be high performers. If they aren’t used to receiving much feedback it might seem confusing, but soon they’ll realize what a valuable tool it can be.

When you praise performance, remember to do it promptly and be specific about the behavior. Let the person know how you feel about their achievement and encourage them to keep up the good work. This is especially true when someone is working on a new skill or task, because praising will help build confidence. As people become more proficient, they will actually learn to praise themselves for a job well done.

Something to keep in mind: a One Minute Praising is not the same as flattery. It’s a statement that builds trust and improves communication because it’s based on facts and data. Saying “nice job” isn’t specific enough to build rapport. But if you say, “Sally, thank you for getting your monthly report to me on time. It provided accurate information and allowed me to meet my deadlines. Keep up the great work,” it clearly states your appreciation and will boost Sally’s morale. It will also help her realize she is an important member of the team and improve her productivity overall.

So spend a few minutes every day catching your people doing something right. It doesn’t take much time. Remember: the best minute of the day is the one you invest in your people.

NOMM-book-featureTo learn more about The New One Minute Manager, visit the book homepage where you can download the first chapter.

A New Book for a New Generation: The New One Minute Manager®

NOMM-book-featureOn May 5, HarperCollins will release The New One Minute Manager. I’m already getting a lot of questions about how the One Minute Manager has changed since the original book was published in 1982.

The workplace has evolved dramatically over the last 30 years. In the early 1980s command and control leadership was a way of life. In those days, the One Minute Manager was the one who set goals—he decided who to praise and who to reprimand. The New One Minute Manager realizes that today the old top-down management style doesn’t work, because people want to find meaning in their work and be recognized for their contributions. Now side-by-side leadership—being a partner with your people—is much more effective.

To address these changes, my coauthor Spencer Johnson and I have updated and adapted the Three Secrets used by the New One Minute Manager—One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Re-Directs. Now the Secrets are more relevant than ever.

Readers will discover that goal setting is no longer a task managed by the leader and handed off to the employee as a list of directives. Setting One Minute Goals is now a collaborative activity that the leader and direct report work on together. The focus is on setting clear expectations and providing examples of what a good performance looks like. People are encouraged to review their goals daily so they can stay on track by focusing on their most important projects.

The Second Secret, One Minute Praisings, remains one of the most powerful tools a leader can use to encourage and motivate people. The New One Minute Manager knows the importance of catching people doing things right and praising them right away. In time, people learn to praise themselves and become self-leaders.

The Third Secret is where we’ve made the biggest change: One Minute Reprimands have been changed to One Minute Re-Directs. We did this because the pace of work is so fast today that people are in constant learning mode. Even if you’re an expert today, tomorrow your area of expertise may be outmoded. It’s not helpful to reprimand or punish a learner. Today it’s more effective to coach and support people with One Minute Re-Directs.

I’m excited about the practical tips we’ve incorporated into this book for a new generation. Now more than ever, the Three Secrets provide powerful tools to help you build relationships and achieve personal and professional goals. And the heart and soul of the new book remains the same: one minute really can make a difference. In fact, I believe the best minute of the day is the one you invest in your people.

To learn more about The New One Minute Manager and download the first chapter, visit The New One Minute Manager pre-release website.

Dealing with “The New Normal”

bigstock-Business-man-in-front-of-a-hug-40875844A client recently asked me to speak to their company about “the new normal.” It reminded me of an interview I conducted with Sir Richard Branson on the same topic a couple of years ago. As you know, Sir Richard is an expert on operating in the new normal. His international investment group, the Virgin Group, is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and runs successful businesses in several different sectors.

During our interview, I asked Sir Richard how he chooses the different sectors he invests in.

His reply was that he looks for sectors where the current competitors are not as customer focused as they could be. If they are not taking care of their customers, he’ll go into that industry.

But that was just the beginning. In addition to being customer focused, he shared that you have to be fast and flexible, you have to be cost effective, and you have to be continuously improving. Continue reading