New managers need grooming to succeed

The job of recruiting new managers does not end with the new hire – or the promotion from within. It begins there. It is now up to you to groom your new manager for success.

Grooming managers is a hands-on, proactive process. Kicking back will not get the job done.

New ManagersIn fact, this part of the process could take longer than the search did. But executive failure is too costly to do anything less than whatever it takes to bring a new executive up to speed.

Situations to consider

One of the biggest challenges for managers promoted from within an organization is their relationships with other employees. Their former peers often continue to think of them as "one of us" and ignore their changed status.

You can help counter this by looking for ways to remind people of the change in rank.

First, meet with employees and make a formal announcement of the promotion. Tell them that it may feel awkward at first but you expect everyone to adjust.

Look for opportunities to reinforce the employee's changed status. For example, instead of announcing a new marketing campaign yourself, you might have the new manager present it to the team.

It is essential that you meet regularly with new executives. Use the time to make it clear what you expect of them, to probe about what and how they are doing in their new position and to provide frequent feedback about how well they are meeting expectations.

Questions to ask

After you have explained the details of the position and your expectations, ask some open-ended questions. Then stop talking and listen.

Following are the kinds of questions a mentor might ask:

1. What parts of the job are different from your initial expectations?

2. How do you think a leadership role is different from positions you have held previously?

3. What do you feel most (and least) comfortable about in your new role?

4. What new skills do you need to develop to be a successful leader?

5. How can I and others (use specific names) best help you succeed?

The answers to these questions will likely contain clues as to where you need to spend more time and effort with the new manager. Take good notes, and act accordingly.

Ways to encourage growth

The old general rule about giving employees five times as much positive feedback as negative applies to managers too – unless, of course, they are truly off track.

However, you can't anticipate every problem or train for every eventuality. Be a mentor to new managers rather than telling them what to do all the time. Give them room to try out their skills, struggle with challenges and learn from the results.

Don't overlook the importance of being human and caring. Share some of your own struggles when you were a new executive. Have a sense of humor – especially about mistakes you have made. Be encouraging.

You have gone to the trouble to select someone who is capable. Once you have oriented that person on the basics of the new position, don't be afraid to step back and let your new manager struggle a little to find direction and perhaps, in the process, uncover new talents.

Beyond the success of your business, it can be personally satisfying to see a new executive step up to the challenge and flourish – and to know that you had a hand in making it happen.

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