How to Prepare New Managers for Tough Conversations
The transition from peer to manager is a tough one. In addition to striking a healthy balance between “leading” and “doing”, new managers need to hold their teams accountable for achieving results. As if these conversations aren’t challenging enough to begin with, it’s also likely that one or two team members are upset that they didn’t earn the promotion!
So how can we prepare new managers to navigate tough conversations effectively? Consider implementing these best practices to increase the chances of success.
- Plan for the conversations. Yes, this is obvious. It’s also common for new managers to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they’re taking in, which means they’ll need extra support in their early decision-making. By taking the time to plan for tough conversations, they can be intentional in their approach and avoid making rash mistakes that can take a long time to recover from.
- Ask them how they’d like to “show up” to their teams. When we’re clear on how we’d like others to perceive us as leaders, we’ve got a much better chance of aligning our behavior with that vision. If the new manager would like to show up as Fair, Empathetic and Assertive, they’ll need to be deliberate in their actions. For example, an assertive person may practice making their key points before a big conversation. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to be empathetic and fair without being a good listener. Encourage your new manager to ask good questions and let the other person share information. Two-way conversations build trust.
- Address situations quickly. A common complaint of leaders is that they receive filtered information and are made aware only after things have reached a boiling point. This is often because it’s human nature to avoid situations we’re not comfortable with and to procrastinate when we don’t know how to handle things. Waiting and hoping things get better on their own only makes things worse. Make sure situations don’t fester or continue so long that addressing them becomes more awkward.
- Have tough conversations in private. Some new managers may be eager to establish their authority with their teams. Shortly after becoming a new manager, I overheard a group conversation that upset me. I snapped at the team and damaged trust with my angry reaction, which made them hesitant to speak openly around me. Had I pulled one or two people aside and asked questions to understand their perspective, I could have clarified the situation and refocused their thinking appropriately. Instead, I scolded them in front of their peers, which was not a good situation for any of us.
Our CEO, Don Adams, often says “Leaders don’t get recess.” Our teams are always paying attention to our actions. Let’s help prepare our new managers to have tough conversations. Developing this critical leadership skill early will set them on the right path from the start.
To learn how Dale Carnegie can help your team to be more effective, feel free to send me a message, or visit our website at www.dalechicago.com.