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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The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

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LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

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LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

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On behalf of Roche and my staff I would like to sincerely thank you for your help with this. The English as a Second Language (ESL) assessment and coaching that you provided for our team was a great success.

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Associate Director


I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

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In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.


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The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

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We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.

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