Yeah, Being a New Manager is Harder than It Used to Be

Being a new manager has always been tough and emotional.

Maybe you were promoted into the role because you were a great individual contributor, but are now being asked to do very different and uncomfortable things. You might be stepping into an underperforming team or a team you would not have selected yourself. Many people start down the management path, only to turn around and become individual contributors again after they learn how tough it is.

On top of all of that, management has become harder – much harder.

Or at least that’s what the Charter Group members in our new ExecOnline program, Launch into Leadership, told us.

Across 12 focus groups and 100+ conversations, they told us that managers need to raise their game and do many of the things only more senior leaders used to do. Among the new challenges for this group, our charter members highlighted that managers need to…

  • …better align their teams to organizational strategy so they keep up with fast changing organizational needs (even as they are learning strategy sometimes for the first time)
  • …lead their teams through change (even as they are learning to adapt themselves)
  • …do the basics far better, especially as companies have switched management practices to more just-in-time methods that put pressure on managers’ emotional intelligence, like feedback systems of performance management
  • …help employees better navigate organizational complexity (even as they are just beginning to build their networks).

No wonder, according to CEB research, 60%+ of new managers underperform in the first two years in role.

Given all of these changes, our charter members wanted us to focus on activation and mindset. How do we reduce the time to activate managers – which has real consequences for strategic execution and engagement? And, how do we change mindsets from individual contributors to managers?

In recent decades, we’ve seen a rise in the player-coach model, which makes it even more difficult for managers to be successful.

In order to help our managers activate, we’ve created a 3-6 month online journey, 2.5 hours a week, with substantial application. You might think this is long, but it’s really short when you think of how long it currently takes for managers to be activated. Right now, we might do a half-day session with our new managers only to find years later they never actually activated. And we measure – to ensure that managers do in fact become fully performing managers.

As we built the program, we also understood that this is a journey – an emotional journey. And to help us with that, we brought in the inestimable Dorie Clark to help our employees – someone who can relate to the challenges of new managers, and can help point them in the direction of success in a world where it’s a lot harder to be a new manager.

Let us know in the comments if your new managers are being asked to do more, and reach out if you’d like to join the journey to revolutionize new managers.