We were just wrapping up the first session of a leadership program when “Sal” raised his hand. “How do you help a new manager be more confident?”
He continued, “I mean it’s tricky to have a difficult conversation or run a great meeting when you’re not convinced you know what you’re doing. And the problem is, your lack of confidence makes your team question your competence. Which of course you can sense, which makes you feel even less adequate.
And then the whole thing just goes downhill from there. I want to get in front of this as fast as I can to help this new manager, what advice do you have?”
3 Ways to Help a New Manager Be More Confident
I’m so glad Sal asked that question because the struggle is real.
It’s tricky to show up confident when you’re not convinced you know what you’re doing. So, if you’re looking for ways to help a new manager (or yourself) show up with more confidence start here.
1. Train Them on The Fundamentals
This sounds obvious, but most managers we talk with tell us they wish they had received some fundamental leadership training when they first started their role.
By the time they land in one of our foundation programs they say, “Wow, I wish I had learned this ten years ago! It would have saved me so much heartache and frustration.”
If you want to help a new manager be successful, be sure they’ve received training on fundamentals like setting and reinforcing expectations, checking for understanding, keeping the team focused on what matters most, building trust and connection, how to delegate, and building a cadence of accountability and celebration.
Be sure to pick a practical training program, that gives them ways to practice and reinforce what they’ve learned.
You don’t learn how to be a great leader by watching a video.
Be sure to ask these 5 questions before choosing a leadership development program.
2. Ask Confidence-Building Questions
When managers lack confidence, we often find that they have had one or two bad experiences that dominate their thinking.
“OMG one time I tried to give someone feedback and THEY CRIED!!!!”
“I tried to give my team recognition and no one seemed to care, so why bother…”
The truth is, sadly, our brains are wired to remember the bad experiences more than the good ones, which is not helpful. Confidence-building questions can help your new manager bring more positive memories to the forefront and balance their thinking.
Here are a few starters:
- What does your team love about your leadership? How does that help them to be successful?
- Can I do this? If so how? HT to Dan Pink
- Tell me about a time you had an awesome _________ conversation. What made it so successful?
- How did you learn to do ____? What ideas do you have about how you could teach that to your team?
- (For a new manager promoted over their peers) What is one behavior that you know led to your success in your former role? WHY did that work? How can you help your team better understand the “why” and “how”?
3. Break it Down
When a new manager takes over a team for the first time, there is so much to learn and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Help them focus on one skill and outcome at a time.
Here’s an example (just to get you started …):
- Week one: Get to know your team by having a one-on-one with each team member (learn about who they are as people.)
- Week two: Establish your top MIT (Most Important Thing) priorities.
- Week three: Work with your team to communicate those priorities and check for understanding.
- Week four: Build your 5 x 5 communication plan. (How will you communicate those priorities five times, five different ways?)
- Week five: Help your team identify their most critical behaviors for achieving their MIT priorities
- Week six: Focus on recognition. Celebrate what’s going great. Where do you see the behaviors in action? How can you recognize these behaviors in ways that are specific, relevant and timely?
Just a start
So that’s a start. What would you add? What’s your best advice for helping a new manager build confidence and competence?