More guidance for the newly promoted CEO or manager — or anyone with newly promoted staff. What should a person entering a new role do in their first 30 days?
Welcome to Guidance for the Newly Promoted, Part Two.
I interviewed Helen Wilkie, author of “The Hidden Profit Center” and creator of “The Manager’s Journey” 12-month program. She believes the first 30 days should be about observing, learning, listening, discussing, establishing relationships and planning how to move forward.
We discussed her tool for new managers, The Manager’s Log, and touched on the rest of The Manager’s Journey. Helen believes that while being appointed a manager is an event, becoming a manager is a journey. The first 30 days is the first stage of the journey, and it should form a reliable foundation for the rest of the journey to come.
Starting off well is vital for the new CEO or new manager. When you make a good first impression, people need to have four negative impressions before they will give up on their good image of you. And when you make a bad first impression, people need to have six positive impressions before they give up on that negative image of you.
Helen fell into coaching many years ago when two young workers were promoted into management, and the firm retained Helen to help them out.
Helen quickly found that most new manager training is dreadful — it’s too company specific, and fails to cover the universal skills of management. And it’s too front-loaded — it’s usually in the first week or two of the new job, and the training just takes you away from your job during a crucial period when you need to be at your desk and working with your people.
The first segment of The Manager’s Journey covers the first 30 days and is called the Manager’s Mindset. Her key tool is nothing more than a simple paper notebook — and a well honed process for using that notebook to retrain the manager’s thought process.
Feeling Like a Fraud
A common theme among newly promoted leaders — especially those raised from a production role — is the sense at the end of the day that they “haven’t done anything.”
That’s because you’re no longer a doer — you’re a facilitator. It’s a change that takes people way out of their comfort zone. They’re now captain of the ship, and they have to give up swabbing the decks.
So you lose all the feedback you’re used to — all the old evidence that told you that you’d been productive is gone, and you have to replace it with new evidence and new feedback. The Manager’s Log does that.
Ideally at the beginning and end of each day, you enter into your Log the situations that came up, how you handled each one, and how you felt. It’s not quite journaling. You also note ideas you have, and key interactions you have with team members, or problems or the early indicators of potential problems.
Then, review the log regularly. You start to see that you actually did a lot.
Then the log gets re-used at performance review time, and when you need to look for patterns among your staff and for ways to prevent problems looming on the horizon.
Review your Victories Daily
This practice shows up in many other places as well, from Jack Canfield’s books to my interview with John Chappelear.
You don’t want to try to keep the victories in your head for many reasons — including that you can’t access them when you need them, and because remembering long lists of things will reduce your self-control by 50% — and a manager must have a very high level of emotional self control.
This Victory Journal aspect of the Manager’s Log is a crucial tool for personal growth.
Managing Former Peers
Every person promoted inside their firm will be faced with managing and leading people who used to be your peers. Some of them will be resentful. This change can be terrifying. The discipline of using the Manager’s Log will create a reflectiveness that allows you to handle this change.
Changing your Mindset
The mind changes slowly. By using a regular daily practice like maintaining a Manager’s Log, you can more effectively take on the new mental patterns that go with your new role.
Helen coached some new managers who were in a firm that produced information, and the firm always had to rush at the end of each month, and the reports were produced with great angst and with a day or two of working until 2 AM. Yet the team was intensely resistant to changing their work habits to meet the early and interim deadlines.
So Helen and her new manager clients came up with a visual demonstration using a box of dominoes. They stood the dominoes up in a row, and at the beginning of the meeting they knocked over the first one, which fell and knocked over the next, and on down the row. “That’s what happens when an early deadline gets missed — it makes every other deliverable late.”
And these new managers created a process of very brief stand-up meetings – they called them “huddles” – where the whole team could be mobilized to solve a problem and keep an early deadline from slipping. It became safe for people to admit they had problems and to ask for help. They even created a “domino” theme to remind the team members of the “why” of hitting early deadlines.
This is a perfect illustration of the powerful contribution that a manager can bring to a team — and that only the manager can provide. The workers are too busy working. And this new vision of dominoes helps each worker really see how important their work is — it raises their self esteem and makes their work easier.
And the manager changes “you and me” into “we.”
If you’re the CEO, you are responsible for ensuring that your new managers are making this shift into the Manager’s Mindset — and ensuring that you’ve made it yourself.