by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor
“BIG” PORTRAYS a 12-year-old boy who asks a mechanical swami at a carnival to grant his wish to be grown up. Instantly, his wish is fulfilled and he finds himself as a little kid trapped in the body of a grown man. The trouble is, he has skipped several natural development stages and misses, what can be called, “the coded social language of adults” or in plain language how to connect, communicate and relate to others. The disconnect makes for good comedy but not for effective workplace relationships.
In the real world skipping development steps isn’t always a laughing matter. As difficult as it is to go from being 12 to 28, it is equally hard to go from being an individual contributor to being a good supervisor or team leader..
Something is Missing
Typical missing ingredients include gaps in interpersonal skills, an inability to manage systems and processes, a discomfort with conflict, difficulty playing the political game and an inability to appropriately motivate, delegate and develop staff. Often, those, who are promoted too quickly, don’t know what they don’t know
It’s your job as their manager to help them start out on the right foot. It’s better for them (it builds their confidence and competence) and it’s better for you (you’ll spend less time and energy dealing with misunderstandings and poor performance.)
Managers, Your Job is to Coach Them
1. Define leadership success in terms of behaviors and accountability.
If you want new leaders to make sure they “engage their staff” or “provide outstanding customer service” or “reduce errors by 10%” or whatever, what would they be doing? How would they specifically act and interact with their people?
2. Initially concentrate on easier to achieve goals or quick wins.
It’s critical for a new leader to create momentum and start getting results. They shouldn’t try to solve “world hunger” or the really big challenges until they develop credibility. Help them pick one or two problems, figure out how to fix them quickly to build their reputation. Also focus on a handful of behavioral changes that will be the easiest to get results from and that will most quickly close the development gap.
3. Boost them up, and at the same time, slow them down.
Star performers are accustomed to achieving their goals rapidly. And they’ve gotten rewarded for it through praise, recognition and probably this promotion. So they may need more atta boys or girls initially. Yet at the same time, you must help them to not expect instant results. Change can take longer than expected, because the new manager usually needs to become aware of how specific behavior are hindering his performance before being willing and able to change.
4. Focus on and magnify strengths.
It is easy to identify weaknesses but it is essential to quickly identify what the performer does well. Equally important, the person needs to understand how to best use these strengths in his/her new role. What often gets a person into trouble is not the strengths themselves, but either overusing them or relying solely on them without developing a “this may not work” or “this may get me in trouble” barometer.
Smart Moves Tip:
Many are promoted into management or supervisory positions because they do their present job well, perhaps better than others on the team. However, being a good supervisor or team leader– getting high-priority work done through others on time, on budget and on target – requires additional skills. Unfortunately, many are just thrown in without training and then left to sink or swim. Coaching does not simply correct today’s problem; it helps keep the problem from resurfacing.