Four Secrets to Becoming an Excellent New Manager

Research shows 75% of employees in the U.S. feel their direct manager is the worst part of their job. And 65% would rather have a new boss than a pay raise. 


For those in management roles this statistic is alarming. And if you’re new to management, you probably want to do anything you can to avoid this being the conclusion of your feedback survey. 

So, how do you do that? How do you avoid being the worst part of someone’s job and instead become an effective manager who builds healthy, high performing teams?  

Here are four secrets we’ve learned after years of helping new managers become great managers.

1. Know the job

I’ll never forget leading a class for new managers when a  project manager admitted of his new leadership position, “I didn’t know it was a completely new job requiring an entirely different set of skills until I was in it.” This happens surprisingly often. 

You were probably a star performer in your previous job. Terrific! That’s how a lot people get promoted into managerial roles. But the problem is, a high performing individual contributor doesn’t necessarily make a good manager. You’re in a different job now that requires a new skill set. 

In this new role you need to promote teamwork, inspire people toward goals, and see the job as serving and equipping others so they can deliver their best. 

You need to be less task-focused and more people focused. Less isolated and more visible. 

2.  Own your on-boarding

Hopefully your organization is setting you up for success immediately. But if there are gaps in the onboarding process take things into your own hands! 

You want to hit the ground running. But long-term success comes if you hit the ground listening. Take time to understand the organization, the team, and “how things are done here.” 

New managers who come in wielding immediate solutions create resistance. Make it clear you intend to listen, and get to know the team, first.  Give yourself the space and time to do that. 

A great way to get clear, honest feedback from your team is through a New Leader Assimilation. This is a meeting facilitated by an outsider who elicits questions and information from the team without the leader present. The facilitator then meets with the leader to discuss the team’s needs and concerns.  Last, the facilitator brings together the team with the leader and addresses the questions and ideas. There’s simply no better way to fast forward trust and team building. 

Beyond your team, identify and proactively schedule time with every key stakeholder. These are the people your team serves, or partners with, who will help you win.  

Build trust early, before problems arise, and you’ll have a strong foundation if things become difficult. 

3. Get leadership training 

You had a lot of training to become the technical expert you are today. So, now that you’re leading people you need new training to learn how to: 

  • delegate well 
  • coach for success 
  • read people and make adjustments 
  • create a motivating environment 
  • lead meetings effectively 

Don’t leave leadership development to chance!  Without leadership development it’ll take much longer to reach your goals, you’ll be less effective, and you’ll stall your career progression.  

Choose training that includes practice and accountability. It’s not enough to learn theories of management. You need to practice new skills, create new neural pathways, be willing to stumble a bit, and try again.  

In between training sessions, practice your learning in the workplace. Talk through your learning with someone you trust for accountability, correction, and encouragement.  

In our Launch!  manager development program we spend a half day in the classroom every two weeks, practice new skills between sessions, then report back in the next session. And learners receive coaching between sessions. It’s a blend that ensures leaders are making leadership training work…and work well! 

Schedule private coaching. This is especially helpful for closing individual skill gaps. Customized, confidential support at the beginning of your management career is profoundly impactful. Leadership can be lonely, and a coach helps you feel someone has your back. 

4. Begin a 360 feedback cadence

After  6-12 months request formal feedback. Use a 360 survey to get manager, peer, and subordinate-level feedback on your performance. This will reveal themes in your performance – where you win and where you can improve. Get coaching to develop in the areas the 360 highlights. 

Seize this growth opportunity to uncover your blind spots! It’s also a great way to demonstrate transparency to your team. 

Cycling through a 360 assessment and coaching process over time creates a continuous leadership development learning cycle with a positive impact for you and your organization. 

Just like it took time and effort to build your skills and become a star performer in your previous position, it’s going to take time and effort to excel as a new manager.  

We know there’s a lot sitting on your desk to do, but building your skill set as a manager is key to your success. Make sure you get started before it’s too late. Contact us to learn more about how we can support you in becoming an excellent new manager. We offer coaching, 360’s and a development program for new managers and we’d love to help boost your skills.