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Supporting a New Manager: Strategies for Success

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Stepping into a new managerial role is both exciting and overwhelming. In people ops, we have a unique opportunity to provide the kind of support that can make a world of difference for a new manager.

Empowering them during this transition will not only help them succeed but also contribute to a more cohesive and efficient team dynamic. Let's explore some specific strategies to support your new manager effectively.

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If you think a new manager can just arrive on day 1 with their direct report and know what to do, think again.

It is absolutely crucial to re-onboard employees whenever they start a new role within the company, especially if it means they're getting a direct report or 5.

Strong onboarding clarifies their management role

  1. So new managers know exactly what they are responsible for, from 1:1s to performance reviews to learning how to be a coach and mentor.

  2. Set expectations for behavior and how to treat their team. You have an opportunity to show them what it means to be a good manager right out of the gate, including how to actively listen, respond instead of react, and manage from a place of empathy.

  3. Train the trainer. Everyone needs to be reminded of the company values, the strategic business vision, and why you operate the way you do. Especially if you plan to have new managers deliver the "welcome onboarding presentation" (your company overview deck), you'll want to train the trainer so they know it inside and out.

Early Support

The first three months in the role can either set a strong foundation for team dynamics into the future, or unintentionally exacerbate or create new issues within the culture. Be there for your new manager early on so you can get off on the right foot.

Provide Context

Your new manager may not be familiar with the team's history, ongoing projects, or established workflows. Offer a rundown of essential background information to help them grasp the current state of affairs. Share insights into team dynamics, individual strengths, and areas for improvement.

Open Communication

Start by establishing open and honest communication with your new manager. Let them know that you are there to support them and that they can rely on you. Be receptive to their ideas, concerns, and questions. Active listening is key; understanding their management style, goals, and any challenges they might be facing.

  • Suggest team-building activities to foster camaraderie and trust.

  • Promote open communication by explaining when we use public chats and when we use private DMs.

  • Lead by example by asking open, honest questions in the public chats.

Respect Their Authority

The last thing a new manager needs is to immediately feel undermined. Avoid jumping in to take over or creating divisions within the team. If you disagree with a decision, address it privately and professionally rather than openly challenging the decision.

A united team that respects its leader can achieve remarkable results.

  • Trust their judgment and give them the autonomy to make informed decisions.

  • Encourage risk-taking within reasonable limits, knowing that growth often comes from trying new approaches.

  • Stand by their side instead of blaming or shaming. Even when things get challenging, provide support and assistance when needed.

Clarify Expectations

Clear expectations can alleviate confusion and frustration. Talk openly with the new manager about their role, responsibilities, and performance objectives.

Also, clarify how you will support them to help ensure the team's success. Mutually understanding expectations will enable you to provide the space the manager needs to do their job and the targeted help they need from you as an HR manager.

  • Deliver a manager agreement or FAQ in your documentation that clearly outlines what it means to be a manager at your company.

  • Outline how often managers should be holding 1:1s, plus the processes for developing their team, performance reviews, and performance improvement.

  • Explain the goals they are now responsible for and how they have changed, plus what resources they have for achieving them.

Be Patient and Empathetic

Remember that your new manager is also going through a learning process. They might make mistakes or encounter challenges along the way. Be patient and understanding during these times, offering a helping hand rather than criticism. Share stories of your own past experiences to demonstrate that everyone faces a learning curve and makes mistakes. We are all human.

Be Intentional With Feedback

Constructive feedback is invaluable for any leader's growth. When appropriate, share feedback with your manager to help them understand how their actions impact the team. Be specific, highlighting both strengths and areas for improvement. Frame the feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than criticism.

Help Them Build a Strong Team Early On

As a people ops leader, you are in a unique position to help bring the team together and build trust and respect for their new manager in the process.

  • Facilitate team-building activities to foster camaraderie and trust.

  • Encourage a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and motivated.

  • Promote open communication to ensure that information and feedback flows freely.

A new manager smiles because she is getting the support she needs to manage her team effectively.

Ongoing support

Manager Training

Offer comprehensive manager training focused on essential leadership skills like effective communication, conflict resolution, decision-making, time management, and delegation.

  • Equip them with the tools to be successful in their role.

  • Encourage a growth mindset, where learning and self-improvement are celebrated.

Recognize Their Achievements

Acknowledging your new manager's achievements, even the small ones, can boost their confidence and motivation. Express genuine appreciation for their efforts and highlight the positive impact they are making on the team. A little recognition can go a long way in creating a supportive and encouraging work environment.

  • Recognize their efforts and accomplishments, showing appreciation for hard work.

  • Create a positive work culture where recognition is an integral part of the values.

  • Teach your manager how to celebrate their team and make it about them.

  • Offer little nudges and suggestions over DM so your managers get in-the-moment ideas for how to celebrate someone on the team.

Challenge: Try writing a shout-out for the all-hands or for the team chat without using the word "I". You'll force yourself to truly put the other person in the center of your statement.

Help Them Build Relationships

As a team member who knows your colleagues well, assist your manager in building strong relationships with the team. Facilitate introductions, encourage team-building activities, and create opportunities for informal interactions. Strong bonds between team members and their leader foster trust and collaboration.

  • Facilitate opportunities for managers to connect with other managers in the organization or industry.

  • Build a supportive community where you can share experiences, learn from each other, and grow together.

  • Be there for them, not just as colleagues but as a listener who genuinely cares about their success.

Offer Mentorship

Pair new managers with more experienced senior leaders to offer more formal one-on-one mentorship.

The institutional knowledge that gets passed down, helps guide them through potential roadblocks and tricky situations. Share your knowledge of the company culture and unwritten rules. Act as a sounding board for their ideas and provide constructive feedback to help them grow in their role.

  • Pair you up with an experienced and successful manager who will serve as your mentor.

  • Provide you with a safe space to discuss challenges, seek advice, and share experiences.

  • Receive constructive feedback and guidance, empowering you to develop your managerial style.

Encourage Professional Development

Support your new manager's professional growth by encouraging them to attend workshops, webinars, or conferences. Suggest relevant books or articles to broaden their management knowledge. Investing in their development benefits the entire team and shows your genuine interest in their success.

  • Offer access to free and paid resources to support your ongoing development.

  • Suggest publications they can follow so they stay ahead of industry trends.

  • Nurture a learning culture that encourages curiosity and fosters innovation.

Work-Life Balance

Becoming a new manager introduces a whole new set of responsibilities. All of a sudden, you're responsible for your job, yourself, and other people. That can certainly bring pressure. The only way to make sure your new managers make it for the long haul is if they take care of themselves over time.

  • Encourage them to prioritize their well-being and work-life balance.

  • Encourage self-care and stress management.

  • Nudge people when you notice they haven't taken enough time off. Set a PTO/vacation policy that encourages time off and rest.

  • Understand that your happiness and fulfillment extend beyond work and that taking care of yourself is vital.

By fostering open communication, offering mentorship, respecting their authority, and providing feedback, you can set a new manager up for success.

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