Are You a New Manager? Four Conversations You’ll Need to Master
I invited several top leaders, authors, and bloggers to share their wisdom with Leadership Freak readers. Thanks to Scott Blanchard for contributing this insightful post on four conversations new managers need to master.
Sixty percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years—often because they’re not prepared to lead conversations that support their people.
Stepping into leadership requires different skills from those you developed as a high performing employee. New managers need to be ready to answer four basic questions from their direct reports:
- What am I supposed to be doing? This begins the goal setting conversation.
- Did I do it right? This prompts the praising conversation.
- Am I doing something wrong? This initiates the redirecting conversation.
- Did it matter and what did we learn? This leads to the wrapping up conversation.
Think you’re ready to manage people? These tips from our First-time Manager training program can help. Think about how you’d evaluate your skills in each of these areas:
- Goal Setting. Schedule this conversation at the beginning of every project or goal and revisit as needed. It focuses people on exactly what needs to be done and by when, and works best when tasks and timelines are clear, compelling, and written down.
- Praising. Have this conversation when you catch someone doing something right to reinforce their behavior. Tell the person you noticed a specific action and why you appreciate it.
- Redirecting. This will guide someone back to their goal when their behavior is off track. Be sure the person understands exactly what needs to change and that they know you want them to succeed.
- Wrapping Up. Schedule this conversation at the end of every project or goal. It serves a dual purpose: to celebrate accomplishments and to recognize what could be improved in the future.
All leaders, both new and experienced, must be effective communicators. Make sure your communication skills are as ready for that promotion as you are!
What suggestions do you have for succeeding with the four conversations new managers need to master?
It might be implicit- but just in case, what do you think about adding a monitoring conversation after goal setting and before praising – where you assess periodic results against goals, and can course correct on plans if necessary?
Hi Lori–your instinct that the monitoring conversation might be implicit was right on target. At The Ken Blanchard Companies we are big believers in regular one-on-one conversations occurring at least every two weeks between managers and team-members. The agenda for the conversation is always team member driven but usually touches on direction and support needed from the manager for achieving goals and tasks.
Thanks, David for clarifying!
Thanks David. Fits in well with situational leadership model.
As part of the praising conversation I would like to add the importance of ensuring that all team members know how much they are valued.
Totally agree with this piece. Critical for dynamic and strong leadership is to always work on developing and enhancing two key competencies.
1. Cultivating high levels of personal self-awareness – Be vulnerable; focus on relationships; secure feedback; interact with others; learn from executive coaching.
2. Mastering professional engagement through influencing capabilities – Convincing and persuasive communications as well as active listening; managing interpersonal relationships and partnerships as well as being committed to developing talent; assertively motivating and inspiring others as well as visionary in nature; interactively teaching others and addressing challenging situations as well as resolving conflicts.
My personal leadership learning journey has been based on three primary aspects of discovery: 1. Diversity of experiences and willingness to take risks; 2. Gaining feedback; 3. Building relationships. I always took time to become self-aware and to influence others along the journey.
nicely articulated – awareness and engagement. thank you for doing so.
In the 1990’s – everyone tried to develop “service orientation” (response time, SLAs etc.) in their personal interaction. I try to keep these skills within a service orientation but also a project orientation – i.e., what do I uniquely bring and deliver at the table in a given slot (of time).
For me – dealing with and delivering “every Conversation-as-a-Project” is a Level-5 leadership behavior.
Simple and actionable! Thanks Dan and Scott! Do we know all the factors contributing to the failure (or under-performance) of the 60% of new managers? Did the Ken Blanchard company conduct the quoted research?
Hi Niraj–the 60% under-performance statistic comes from a study done by CEB (formerly Corporate Executive Board) back in 2007. The main culprit? A lack of training. We have a link back to the summary of the report and also some additional research from outside sources in this February blog post https://leaderchat.org/2016/02/18/infographic-most-new-managers-are-not-ready-to-lead/
Thank you, David! I do remember reading the book by Prof. Linda Hill.
Ahhh .. a” hidden gem”-
“All leaders, both new and experienced, must be effective communicators. Make sure your communication skills are as ready for that promotion as you are!”
I’m a big believer that we earn the right to meaningful conversations through being authentic, consistent, and caring.. An impromptu “let’s grab a coffee and chat” can have huge impact (however never blindside someone in this context)
Do you make a Reality Check part of Goal Setting? My work–software and information systems–is chronically plagued with unrealistic deadlines and overruns. Not everyone knows its OK to push back (and with some managers, it isn’t).