Avoid the 12 Year Gap Trap

Career Enrichment, Leadership Coaching
12/04/18 - Foram Sheth
number 12 hanging on a wall

12 years.

12 years is the average length of time between when individuals are promoted to management, and when they receive their first personalized leadership training. When employees are promoted their responsibilities include managing others, driving goals, engaging and developing their team. Most new managers don’t have any idea how to effectively accomplish any of these tasks.

Why do we wait so long to invest in our managers when they are first given this responsibility?

That is like helping your kid learn how to ride a bike at 17 years old after they’ve had 12 years on their own to figure it out and develop habits that they thought made sense. Can you image your kid at the age of 5 on their own trying to figure out how to balance, move the pedals, navigate the handles, and understand the right speed? I bet it’s nerve-wracking, chaotic and frightening. That’s similar to what new managers are feeling when they are given this enormous yet exciting responsibility of helping others succeed.

a little kid riding a balance bike

Time and time again we see a common set of challenges when a new manager is promoted without appropriate personalized leadership training:

number one Bad habits set in.

Similar to the bike example, Coach Katie warns, ”If you teach yourself to ski (or play tennis or anything else) without proper training, you build bad habits that become hard to break. That becomes your way of doing things. The same is true for managers. It’s easier to build good habits than it is to break bad ones and building good habits requires proper training and development.”

number 2 They are lost in their new role.

An individual is typically promoted when she is successful in her role as an individual contributor; she has mastered the tactical aspects of her job. Once mastery is achieved, we naturally think it’s time to move on to the next challenge – to enable other people to be high achieving individual contributors towards a collective goal. While this comes with a better title and a pay bump, the newly promoted manager is off to the races trying to understand her new role, redefine what success looks like as a manager, what success looks like for her team, understand how to motivate her team members, along with learning how to have difficult conversations and the list goes on. Coach Teague adds, “New managers who are promoted into this role because they were successful in what they were doing often have zero training in how to actually manage. This can be disastrous!”

ALV CEO Nicole experienced this and says, “I was fortunate enough to receive a lot of training on certain managerial topics: how to run a meeting, what to do if you have an HR issue, how to project manage. But I feel like these didn’t end up being the things I struggled with as a new manager like being promoted to lead a group of my former peers who were all older than I was. I wish I had more one-on-one support to navigate those types of situations.” By investing in your new managers in a personalized way, like through coaching, you are not just investing in their personal development – you’re improving the experience of their employees and ultimately impacting your company’s success.

someone raising their hand to signal that they are lost in a field of flowers

number three They get frustrated.

Newly promoted managers get frustrated and feel like they have been set up to fail because they aren’t excelling when that’s all they are used to. Due to the frustration and lack of training, newly promoted managers negatively impact team morale, the organizational culture and are likely to be a flight risk. Coach Sara says, “Too often companies wait until there is an issue before investing in developing the new manager.” By this time, emotions and conflicts have heightened and it takes more time and money to get back on track.
They negatively impact the people around them. When an individual contributor is struggling on the job, it often just impacts their work product. But when a manager is struggling, that means a whole team of people is often impacted. This can be detrimental to the organization’s culture, morale, and team retention. It only takes one under-developed manager to cause turmoil and cost the organization more money than what it would cost to invest in coaching.

We wholeheartedly believe that new managers need personalized and in-depth coaching to learn the leadership skills needed to enable themselves, their team, and the organization to run effectively and function highly. New managers need to learn skills beyond how to conduct performance management reviews and run effective meetings. Today, most new managers undergo management training which consists of E-learnings and/or workshops. E-learnings have a completion rate of 13% and one-off workshops are not personal enough or consistent enough to develop good habits. Managers cannot be given one-time E-learning or workshop. They need personalized coaching to understand themselves as a leader and how to utilize their strengths to positively engage their team members.

When newly promoted managers are given personalized leadership coaching, it results in:

number one Feeling supported.

In our current workforce, everyone is looking to be developed to be the best they can be. They want to have an impact and enable those around them. When you provide the personal attention and support managers need, they feel supported to succeed in their new role. Coach Ngoc says, “Coaching is a mirror for them to talk through situations and reflect. They might not have that type of outlet or support at work. If people run into challenges, they need to talk through it or else frustration can get pent up, leading to unhealthy behaviors. It’s also a place of no judgment and allows them to work through their challenges instead of being given an answer.” When this happens, there is an increase in confidence and they know they’ve been provided the tools they need to be set up for success in their new role. This leads them to want to do more and go above and beyond for the organization.

4 people holding hands to support each other

number 2 Increased self-awareness

Research shows that self-awareness is one of the most important qualities to develop as a leader. Self-aware managers are able to discover blind spots and have the confidence to ask for support when needed. It also allows them to be in a learning mindset so they approach obstacles as learning opportunities and are more likely to succeed in hardships. We engaged in a leadership coaching engagement at a large healthcare organization where we found that managers who were coached increased their self-awareness scores by 21%. Not only were the leaders more self-aware, but we also saw an increase in 360 feedback from direct reports, peers, and managers.

number three They are more invested in their people

When new managers get coaching, they also learn how to coach. This, in turn, allows them to develop their team members to succeed in their role and cultivate the next generation of managers. Coach Teague adds, “By investing in your new managers you are not just investing in their personal development – you’re improving the experience of their employees and ultimately impacting your company’s success.”

number four Higher retention across the organization

By investing in your new managers, you are not only investing in their personal development you are also improving the experience of their employees and ultimately impacting your company’s success. Subsequently, you build more loyal and engaged employees throughout the organization.

number five Increase in the bottom line

With the right accountability and support, managers are learning quickly and getting to peak performance faster. They have someone with them to correct them, to teach them the skills to best utilize their team, increase team and individual performance all while building positive habits. This increase in productivity, reduction in turnover and positive contribution to the culture are directly visible in the organization’s bottom line.

Don’t sit idly by and hoping that your new managers will figure it out. This isn’t sink or swim. These are people who need help figuring out how to manage other humans to get the most out of them while still keeping them happy, meeting deadlines and maximizing productivity. This is methodical and requires planning and preparation. It can’t be a one-time effort or a 2-day retreat at an exotic location to help new managers learn leadership skills. There must be consistency, personalization, and accountability for the manager to learn, implement, reflect, refine, re-implement, modify the learning and ingrain into a habit.

What are you losing by not taking the time to properly invest in your newly promoted managers?

Book a complimentary strategy session with us here.


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