how to help a new manager be more confident

How to Help a New Manager Be More Confident

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?

Other Resources You May Find Helpful

Winning WellWinning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul

9 Ways to Teach Yourself to Be a More Confident Boss

10 Common Excuses That Silently Damage Manager’s Careers

Why To Be Over-Confident (every now and then)

How to Help Employees Have More Confidence

Let's Grow Leaders as Shared In Other Growing Scenes (a Sunday Supplement)

As a “growing” leader I am always inspired by the work of other leaders and thinkers. The online community stretches me beyond my own experiences and thinking. I engage in several leadership tribes and bring their thoughts and challenges back to you and the Let’s Grow Leaders Community. It’s fun to stir those pots as well. Here’s what’s up and what’s coming in some of these growing scenes.

Let’s Grow Leaders Beyond Borders (Guest Posts and Other Engagement)

This Friday, I was featured on SmartBlog on Leadership on one of our favorite topics, Trust and Transparency.

Read More from Let’s Grow Leaders on SmartBlog, Can “Those People” Be Trusted

A quick excerpt: 

Do you spend more time thinking about why people can’t be trusted or why they can?

When planning large-scale change, or developing a communication strategy, do you ever find yourself focusing on the lowest common denominator? How much time do you spend thinking about why people can’t be trusted? Do you worry about what could go wrong if some faceless person does or says something stupid with the information you provide? Do you stress about what will happen if “those people” get a hold of the information prematurely? Read More

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If you missed, Why Volunteering Makes You a Better Leader (Also on SmartBlog), I would love to hear your stories of how volunteering has informed your leadership. This has been my most socially shared topic to date.

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I am an active Instigator in the Lead Change Group, and this week I stir up more thinking on recognition. Last week I wrote on leadership and yoga, in Lead Asana

Please Join the Ongoing Conversation

I write for you. Please share what’s challenging you, and I will work to spark conversation about it. Please drop me a note with what’s on your mind how is leadership hard for you? I also stir up conversation on my Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook Page. I am currently using Facebook to collect ideas on a 2013 rebuttal to The 1943 Guide To Hiring Women. Would love for you to add your comments on Facebook. I will pull our collective thinking together in a future post.

The best part of this scene is your comments: I am delighted by your thoughts and ideas as you comment on posts. My goal is to create a safe community for exploration and conversation. Bloggers:  I am always looking for ideas to enhance the Let’s Grow Leaders Conversation. If you ever read one of my posts and are interested in including a link to your post in the comments PLEASE DO! The more ideas, the more we all grow.

Coming Soon: Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival

I have been overwhelmed with the response for the first Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival, which will premiere March 15th. Please be sure to log in on Friday to hear thought leaders around the world give their advice to frontline leaders.

Tomorrow’s post on Let’s Grow Leaders, In Defense of the Imperfect Boss, was inspired by an over 300 comment discussion in the Harvard Business Review LinkedIn Group Should make for great conversation.

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