Unlocking Success Through First Time Manager Programs

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When ICs (Individual Contributors) step into a managerial role, it is considered as a significant milestone in their and the organization’s journey towards growth. First Time Manager Programs can support organizations to recognize the importance of nurturing new leaders and helping them build skills, and bring about necessary behavioural changed that are required to excel in this new role.

The overall goal of First Time Manager Programs is to help new managers transition into the leadership role more effectively.

Why supporting New Managers in their role is important?

A study by Gartner reported that when a transitioning leader is facing difficulties, their direct reports typically experience a 15% decrease in performance compared to those under a high-performing manager. Additionally, the findings suggest that they are 20% more likely to exit the organization or become disengaged. This underlines the idea that people tend to leave because of factors involving ineffective management rather than undesirable working conditions.

In her HBR article Linda Hill captures the words of a newly appointed manager – “Transitioning to a leadership role can feel overwhelming. It’s like becoming a parent overnight. You don’t any responsibilities, and the next, you’re expected to have all the answers and take charge. It’s a sudden shift that’s difficult to articulate but carries immense weight.”

Debunking some myths about New Managers

1) Authority is the source of power –  According to this myth, new managers believe that their source of power comes from showing authority in the form of enforcing rules, making decisions for the team, assigning tasks and monitoring work.

What can help? – While authority is indeed a part of the new role, it’s not the sole source of power. Effective leadership requires more than just authority; it demands ability to establish trust, credibility and confidence in your team.

If a manager fails to establish these from the start, their authority lacks true power. Asserting control over the team without unanimity is more harmful and can be counteractive by diminishing morale among the members. It’s important to acknowledge that managers do mistakenly believe in the supremacy of authority because of lack of proper training for their role.

2) Winning by Technical Competency – Generally, employees who excel in their technical skills are often promoted to become managers. These new managers may kickstart their new journey with a false belief that technical know-how is enough to guarantee the success in their new role too.

What can help?  It’s an ironical moment for new managers when they realize that the technical expertise and talents that propelled their promotion are not the same skills needed in their new role. Instead of being the sole driver, they must learn to loosen their grip on the steering wheel and empower their team members to take control. Embracing tasks like delegation, empowerment, and active listening requires a significant shift in behavior and mindset. This transformation can be facilitated through dedicated First Time Managerial programs.

3) Managers must have all the answers – New managers often believe that they must possess all the answers. This misconception can lead to feelings of inadequacy and fear of seeking guidance from their immediate supervisors. Consequently, they may worry about appearing incompetent, disappointing others, or facing dismissal. If they also ask for support, there is often a fear of sharing anxieties because it might be used against you later if things don’t turn out as expected. It’s clear that no new manager can have all the answers. If they did, we wouldn’t need as many individual contributors (ICs) on a team. ICs are often taught to believe that their bosses know everything, even when they don’t.

What can help? –  New managers should see their initial vulnerability as a chance for positive change. During the first three months as a manager, it’s crucial to ask lots of questions, even the uncomfortable ones, admit when you don’t know something, be humble, and value your team’s perspectives. Julie Zhuo, Facebook’s VP of Product Design and author of The Making of a Manager, suggests using the “newbie card” to your advantage by asking many questions to many people.

4) Managers have abundant time – There’s a common misconception that as a new manager, you’ll suddenly have plenty of time on your hands because you’re mainly responsible for overseeing and directing others. This belief suggests that you can easily delegate tasks to your team, freeing up your schedule.

What can help? Reality is that for new managers, time is one of the most precious resources. New managers often struggle with time management because they take on too many tasks. While some tasks are essential for their job responsibilities, many others could be delegated more wisely. Constantly dealing with urgent matters, attending numerous meetings and calls, and constantly checking emails can lead to what authors Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal term as ‘unproductive busyness.’ In their study of managers in various large companies like Lufthansa, Sony, and LG, they discovered that transforming the attitudes of new managers led to significant improvements in profitability.

If organizations fail to offer First Time Managerial programs, getting rid of these practices and deep-rooted beliefs can be a difficult task. These programs can help them adapt to the reality of the managerial work and form a more pragmatic expectation.

At InspireOne, we recognize that the transition from an individual contributor (IC) to a managerial role can be daunting. Drawing from more than 2 decades of experience facilitating First Time Manager Programs across diverse industries, we have developed approaches to make this process more seamless for aspiring leaders. Through hands-on learning experiences including role plays, simulations, and case studies, coupled with the provision of today’s essential tools such as gamified learning, we have successfully equipped our First Time Managers for the challenges ahead. Learn more about our First Time Managers program here.




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