New Managers: Courage does not come with the job description

New Managers: Courage does not come with the job description

The new manager has the unenviable task of quickly climbing the learning curve, coping with the challenges of the new job and causing people to forget about their predecessor. The new job is intimidating and the new manager wants to perform well and execute strategies flawlessly. But, some new managers are in a state of fear with the new assignment. This goes beyond the fear of looking bad for failing the end position.

According to a report by the Corporate Executive Board, “Sixty percent of new managers fail within the first 24 months.” So it is important to do everything within our power to ensure that managers are courageous enough to do their jobs.

Four areas where new managers may demonstrate a lack of courage are listed below.

  1. They want to be everyone’s friend
  2. Reluctant to make the tough decisions
  3. Blame the company when things go wrong
  4. Provide too much information without the proper context

They want to be everyone’s friend

The new manager may not be comfortable with the enormity of their promotion. They are anxious to perform, but recognize their competence level is below their personal expectations. They view leadership as cooperation and a good way to get people to cooperate is to be their friend. They believe that if people like them, they will work harder and be more productive.

The new manager may not feel deserving of the role or doubt their ability. They may feel that they have job that people see you should’ve been given to someone else. This individual may even be one of their direct reports. Wanting to be liked by everyone becomes a central and damaging part of their management style. The new manager discovers very early that courage did not come with the job description.

The new manager, following this fear mindset will socialize excessively with their subordinates. They could develop a deep relationship which could compromise their ability to lead. Even if the manager can be objective, the employee may not be able to be objective. A rift could develop when the manager must chastise the employee or there is a dispute around compensation.

The need to be a friend or perceived as a peer is sometimes brought on by promoting a person to head a group where they were a part of the team. This is not an ideal situation, but at times cannot be avoided. A person in this case must be very careful. They must be coached about the potential dangers within the situation. There may be discomfort among their former peers. The new manager may be worried because they once said something to their former peer which could be used against them, now that they are a part of the management.

Afraid to make the tough decisions

Many new managers may be reluctant to make decisions because they are afraid to make mistakes. Risk taking is a part of being an effective manager. It is important to know boundaries and levels of authority. If the environment is not forgiving of errors, the manager understandably may be hesitant to act. Once you know this, a new manager should be prepared to exercise good judgment.

Dan became a new manager and was anxious to make a good impression. He enjoyed consulting with his manager before making a tough decision. This was all right at first, but he became cautious and consulted even on routine discussions. Dan called his manager at home, on two successive Friday evenings, to ask him questions about work issues. His manager listened to each case and asked Dan what he wanted to do? Dan gave a soundly rational response for both situations. His manager agreed with Dan’s assessment and supported his approach. His reasoning was equally effective the second week when he called to discuss more decisions he wanted to implement. Once again the manager agreed with his rationale and supported his thinking once again.

Weeks went by and Dan stopped calling his manager on Friday evening. The manager waited for Dan to call but, there were no calls. He saw Dan at a meeting, a month later, and asked what had happened. He joked about missing their Friday evening telephone calls. Dan told him that he realized that the issues were well within his authority. He felt comfortable in his decision-making and would call if he ran into a problem. This was a tremendous leap in his leadership development and courage to perform and take risks.

When a new manager is trained and given the amount of authority relative to the level of leadership maturity, they grow with proper supervision. As a leader, they are expected to exhibit the courage of a leader by taking responsibility for their teams, managing their business and keeping their leaders apprised as necessary. 

Blame the company when things go wrong

Since preservation of the relationship is their most important objective, this new manager may separate themselves from unpopular corporate decisions. They will take the coward’s way out and blame the company, rather than finding out and giving the rationale for the corporate decision. They are afraid to be seen as the bad person. They go into their conflict avoidance mode and take the side of the employees without living up to their managerial responsibility. They have been known to say such things as,” I am asking you to do this because the company thinks it the right thing to do. I recommend or supported you, but I was overruled. The company made a mistake and you can’t tell them anything.”

A characteristic of managers who lack courage is to set themselves up as the expert. They will volunteer their opinions and state what they would do if they were in charge. They blame upper management for the tough decisions and challenging circumstances, but this can certainly backfire on them. One manager sent a memo to his direct reports blaming the company for a decision. One of his representatives forwarded the memo to their regional sales director. This led to an embarrassing, but fruitful discussion on leadership. Situations like this occur when the new manager lacks confidence.

The team will pledge allegiance to the manager rather than the company. Since the manager is new, the bond of loyalty is not strong enough to retain the employee who is disenchanted enough to quit. Therefore, their approach undermines the stability and morale of the group.

Over communicate information without the proper context

They talk for the sake of talking, too afraid to get additional information from their peers or supervisors. Do not want to appear to not measure up to others. These new managers may constantly bombard their people with every bit of communication at their disposal. This may even include confidential information which can easily be taken out of context. Some memos may summarize meetings and strategies, but not give the complete story. It is crucial for managers to filter the quantity of information sent to their teams. Took over communicate could be a distraction and affect the efficiency of the team.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

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