What To Do as a New Manager When You Don’t Know What To Do

A man in a suit with an umbrella is sitting at the end of a long dock just thinking about how to manage well

The shift from being an individual contributor to taking on the role of manager is huge. And very few are well prepared to succeed without a lot of training and support.

Even experienced managers stumble and fail as leaders. Management can be daunting! But there are steps you can take that will minimize mistakes and maximize your performance and that of your team. And those steps are the same for new managers who are in over their head and for leaders who have been leading for a while but somewhat incompetently.

For Struggling Leaders
First for those who wonder if the problems their organization is facing are par for the course or if they as managers are at fault, here are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is everyone around you running in different directions and apparently very busy but accomplishing little? If so, they lack the focus and purpose a good leader can inspire in them.
  • Do you only take action when you have consensus? It’s best when the team agrees but it’s not necessary. Good leaders listen to the ideas and advice of their team, make a decision that seems best to them, and then act upon it. That’s called being decisive and leading.
  • Are you always shifting goals and timelines for yourself and others? When there’s a lack of accountability, performance suffers. When you put a stake in the ground, hold yourself and your employees accountable for achieving the objective. Sure there are times when you don’t make the numbers as you had hoped and predicted…but there should be a good reason and you should have had plenty of warning.
  • Have you become too often the bearer of bad news to your stakeholders and customers and find yourself blaming others? Clearly something is wrong. Either you have committed to impossible goals or you and your team are incapable of achieving the possible. Good leaders know the difference, take corrective action, and accept the blame for failure.

For New Managers
At some point you will be asked to tackle a project for which you have no experience…at all. You panic with the fear that your incompetence will be obvious and the cause of your eventual firing. But take a moment to breathe and consider a better way to handle the challenge.

The answer for both? Get help from experts!
Know what you do not know and find someone who is willing and able to help you. In fact, you should never go it alone. When you do, you miss an opportunity to learn better ways to manage and lead.

There is never a good reason to charge forward on your own when you don’t know where you’re going. Even the best leaders value expert advice from others.  Quality, relevant, results-oriented new manager training can be a first step especially for new managers. Then you need to show some vulnerability in admitting where you need help. Find someone who has tackled similar challenges before and will guide you. Someday, as you gain in experience as a manager and broaden your knowledge, you may well be the one who is asked for a hand-up!

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We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

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