Leaders: Don’t Fail Your Managers


There are too many instances where leaders do not support the people they elevated to management positions. Don’t be a one of them. When you promote someone to a management position, you are in effect telling your employees that this is the person you regard as your voice and your reflection as a leader. Many times, leaders forget that a management promotion entails a major transition, often requiring a new mentality and skill set. It can be very trying for someone to move into a management position. It is your job to see that they do not fail. Below is a list of twelve steps you can initiate to make sure your new manager does not fail.


  1. Take time to encourage. Make sure you take time with your new manager to discuss challenges or issues he or she may be facing. The meetings can be brief and relaxed so you can offer advice and encouragement. It is the best way to build a relationship based on trust.


  1. Set a good example. Always be on your best behavior. Someone is always watching you. Whether you like it or not your subordinates takes their cues from you. You set the tone and serve as their role model. Your conduct sets the boundaries for what is appropriate. Examine your shortcomings and see if you would accept those flaws from your subordinates and if not, change it.


  1. Require accountability. Make sure you have clearly expressed your expectations for the job. Let your managers know your priorities, establish a timeline, and specify your goal. Most importantly, establish metrics so you know if your goal was achieved. What gets measured gets done!


  1. Establish a support system. Management requires a steep learning curve. Too often new managers feel left out. To make sure those feelings do not persist introduce them to your key leaders and veteran managers who can provide a safety net, advice, and support. A support system allows new managers to build relationships, which are key to precluding failure.


  1. Provide feedback. Let your mangers know how they are doing based on the metrics chosen. Share the facts and discuss your expectations given the present situation. Be concise and straightforward. As General Patton said, “say what you mean and do what you say.”


  1. All great leaders have one uniform trait; they listen. Do not discount your manager’s knowledge, experience, and talent he or she possesses by turning a deaf ear to their concerns or assessments. We all have blind spots. Listening shows your respect and engenders loyalty.


  1. Solicit feedback. Find out what is really going on. There are other issues that reflect performance. Buy-in, trust, camaraderie are intangibles and without them everything eventually falls apart. Welcome feedback and encourage communication among manager’s, their direct reports as well as their peers and partners. Get the real lay of the land, including the quantitative facts.


  1. Keep power in check. Make absolutely certain that all your managers, especially the news ones, know what behavior will and will not tolerated. Do everything you expect them to do.


  1. Manage workload. Set clear and obtainable goals early. Make sure your managers’ workloads are not overwhelming. Most importantly, manage their fears. Show that you are concerned about them personally by words of encouragement and by listening.


  1. Maintain focus. As the leader, you have to make sure that focus on the goal is maintained. Let your managers know your vision. It is their job to reinforce your message. Explain the “why” and the “how.” Revisit the “big picture” and review your strategy with your managers on a regular basis. If you are not reinforcing your goals on a regular basis, they won’t either.


  1. Give leeway. Mistakes will be made. You just want to be sure the mistakes are not fatal. When you don’t give leeway, you manage by fear, people will not use their talents and you stifle creativity. Play to your managers’ strengths and let them grow their identities. When managers are in a secure environment they are happier and you will be surprised by their ingenuity.


  1. Give them the tools they need. In times where budgets and resources are tight, make sure you provide the tools of authority and support. Back your managers in battles with other departments. Do not ever undermine your managers in front of anyone. If you do, you’ll wonder why they can’t get anything done by themselves.


Follow these guidelines and your managers will initiate these same guidelines with their subordinates. Great leadership and management insures future great leadership and management.