First-Time Managers: Survey Says Get Help!

Blanchard First-time Manager video still of GabriellaAs a part of the research into the release of our new First-time Manager program, we have asked people to fill out a survey about their experience as a first time manager.

We ask what they wish they had known before they started, what surprised them about their new role, and what mistakes they made.

The results have been both fascinating and heartbreaking. It is not a pretty picture. The story revealed in the responses is the same one I have heard in coaching sessions for the last two decades.

Unwitting newbies are seldom given clear goals and expectations for their new charges. They are generally unprepared in terms of time management and delegation skills. And they often receive absolutely no people or communication skills training. As a result, they are shocked that their peers don’t greet them with open arms and that their former peers often resent them and gleefully test them right out of the gate. They are surprised at how many employees aren’t that interested in doing their jobs well and don’t do what they are told. They are exhausted by the personal problems of their direct reports and the drama among coworkers.

A new infographic we’ve published highlights CEB research that 60 percent of new managers underperform in their first two years. A major culprit is a lack of training—in fact, 47 percent of companies don’t offer new supervisor training according to a survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity. Separate research by Zenger Folkman CEO Jack Zenger reported in Harvard Business Review shows that, on average, people are supervisors or managers for ten years before they get any training. Essentially, the way most companies promote employees into their first supervisory or management position is nothing short of Darwinian: only the strong survive.

I have had the rare opportunity to coach people at all stages of their careers. All of my experienced clients had to learn the hard way. This doesn’t have to be—and shouldn’t be—the norm. As a new manager, you need to take advantage of all available resources. Some people turn to books on management (there are a million) and try to create a self study program. But you can’t read everything—and some people simply aren’t readers at all. I’d like to suggest a guided approach. One of the services a coach performs for a client is to be both library and librarian, to pull out just the theory, the model, or the most current research that will help the client make sense of their current difficult situation. With the right framework, the new manager can develop a plan of action that helps them move forward.

What does this mean to you? If you manage people and you are suffering, don’t feel that you have to go it alone. Consider taking a class designed especially for first-time managers. Blanchard’s new First-time Manager program, for example, focuses in on four essential communication skills and four performance-related conversations new managers need to master. Or ask for a coach, or find yourself a mentor—but don’t suffer alone. Managing others is one of the most important jobs because you directly affect the quality of people’s lives. So don’t be bashful about asking for help. It’s important for you and others that you have access to the resources you need to succeed.

About the Author

Madeleine BlanchardMadeleine Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

One thought on “First-Time Managers: Survey Says Get Help!

  1. Great post Mad! When new managers start out they are likely at developmental level D1 or D2 as a manager. They will be on a steep learning curve and need all the help and support they can get.

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