Leadership expert Scott Blanchard, co-author of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ new First-time Manager learning program, says new managers sometimes approach their first assignment with the same energy new parents have with their first child—a tendency to overreact.
“As a first-time manager, you want to make a good first impression by demonstrating confidence and capability in managing the work of others. But new managers sometimes get over-invested in people and projects. As a result, they can overreact—getting too excited or upset when things don’t go exactly as planned.”
In the February issue of Ignite, Blanchard shares a story about his own experience.
“I remember being a new parent—you worry about every little thing. Every sniffle is a trip to the emergency room. You find yourself freaking out all the time. But by the time you get to the second kid, you have a whole new perspective. And if you get to a third or fourth, the kids practically raise themselves because you’ve gained experience—you don’t overreact to things like you did before. New managers are sometimes like new parents in that regard.
“As you become experienced as a manager, you are able to respond on a scale that is appropriate. Your energy, tone, and actions are more nuanced. Managers who have been around for a while draw from a larger barrel of knowledge and experience than new managers. They tend to be more patient and calm when things don’t go as planned because they’ve seen it many times before.”
According to Blanchard, experience also teaches managers how to set things up with team members in the beginning so that performance management doesn’t become an emergency issue later on.
Blanchard believes first-time managers need to be prepared for four types of conversations: Goal Setting—to establish performance expectations; Praising—when things are going well; Redirecting—when a mid-course correction is necessary; and Wrapping Up—bringing closure to a task or project. Each of these conversations can pose challenges for new managers.
With skill training and practice, Blanchard believes new managers can get off to a much faster start than they would by using a typical trial and error approach. This can prevent overreactions that can damage a new manager’s reputation and effectiveness.
You can read more of Blanchard’s advice in the February issue of Ignite. Also be sure to check out the complimentary webinar Blanchard is conducting on February 24—First Time Manager: Performance Management Essentials. It’s free, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Blanchard Companies.