South-Western - Management  
Getting Up to Full Speed
Topic Managing Individuals and Teams
Key Words New managers, supervisory skills, leadership, team-building
News Story

Most people believe that management is a skill that just comes naturally to people that are good at their jobs. Many companies make the mistake of putting new, untrained employees into management roles. The result is costly in terms of turnover and morale. According to 2005 data from the Saratoga Institute, 72% of employees leave companies because they feel that they are not recognized for their contributions or significantly recognized or coached by their managers. Poor leadership accounts for more than 60% of turnover. Even without extensive training, new managers can take small steps that can help them to be more successful in their new role.
  1. Take stock: new managers need to make the shift from being an individual contributor to being a leader of others. New managers need to realize that they are not there to continue to do the work they did, but to help others to be successful getting the work done. Taking time to reflect on the skills needed in a new role can help develop leadership capabilities.
  2. See the big picture: new managers must learn to keep the big picture in mind as they lead their team. It can be easy to get caught up in the details of the department, but an effective manager keeps the business objectives of the company clear in his or her mind. This perspective can help a new manager lead a department toward the company's vision. A mentor from within the company can be instrumental in giving perspective.
  3. Learn the language of leadership: New managers often make the mistake of mimicking an assertive or aggressive management style, and alienate their team with their communication style. New managers must know how to make effective requests and delegate effectively. It is also important to know how to set goals that are realistic and that do not drive the team to the breaking point. Using inclusive language is another skill that new managers must master. Sports and war metaphors are no longer considered appropriate in today's diverse business culture. These terms communicate a lack of cooperation and collaboration, which will undermine any team dynamic.
  4. A mature approach to team building: many new managers think that taking their team out for drinks or hiring a motivational speaker is the best way to keep a team motivated. Actually, small exercises done on a consistent basis and 15-30 minutes a week of healthy dialogue will go a lot further than these one-time events.
  5. Perfection is not the goal: admitting that there are things that you don't know and asking for help can help to facilitate a bond with a team, who will prefer this to a manager who tries to fake his or her way through.

Source "Getting Up to Full Speed," HR MagazineApril, 2006, pp.117-120.

Why do companies often make the mistake of promoting employees to management without providing them with special training or skill-development? What are the potential results?


List at least three mistakes that new managers typically make and suggest methods for improvement


List at least three resources a new manager can use to improve his or her skills as a leader of people.

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