How to support your new manager in their first weeks

6 minutes

Set up these three meetings for the first three weeks

Email or Slack them the following:

I’m looking forward helping you in your new role. I will schedule some 1-1 meetings with topics for us to cover over the next few weeks. There is no need for you to prepare, just some things we should make sure we cover during the meeting together!

Then, add 3 meetings in both your calendars:

Week 1: Discuss expectations with your new manager

Make sure you have a 1-1 after your direct report steps into their manager role. Start with a quick temperature check (i.e. how are they feeling?), before clearly outlining their (new) responsibilities.

It’s very important they understand the difference between being an individual contributor and a manager.

As a new manager, you are no longer just responsible for your own performance, but also for the performance and engagement of your direct report(s). Of course, we will continue to talk about your own experiences and work. But from now on, I will also ask you questions about your experience in supporting your people.  
In our next 1-1, let’s ensure we cover topics like what you and your team should focus on over the next 2 months, feedback for your report(s) and other general questions that you may have.

After you explain this new focus, make sure you cover some basic tasks they should do in their first week and also invite a few questions that indicate your support:

  • Have you set up 1-1s with your team?
  • Have you set up regular team meetings (if relevant)?
  • Did you read through the Pyn instructions?
  • What can I do to help you between now and our next 1-1?
  • What questions do you have?

Week 2: Help the new manager set clear expectations for their direct report(s)

It’s your responsibility as their manager to provide your new manager with 1 or 2 goals for themselves and their direct report(s). Initial goals should take max 6 weeks to complete.

The goal is to work with your direct report(s) to develop a [presentation deck/candidate pipeline/template/etc.] to present to [the wider group] in [6] weeks.  Let’s unpack this a bit further during this 1-1.

Make sure you provide context by explaining why you’d like to focus on this goal:

The reason why we want to do this work is because we [….]. In the past we […..] and […..]. The results of this was […..].

Part of this exercise is for you both to collaborate on how the new manager delegates and sets expectations with their direct report(s). They should make sure goals are clear, measurable, and outcome-focused.

Here are some tips on what goal(s) to pick

Here are some questions to unpack the goals with our new manager

  • How would you break down this project? (Planning)
  • How will you know you’ve achieved a good result? (Quality)
  • What (sub)goals would you be able to hand over to your direct report(s)? (Delegation)
  • How would you go about discussing this with your direct report(s) (Communications)
  • When should we discuss a draft plan that includes your direct report’s goals? (Actions)

Week 3: Role-play giving feedback 

Be sure to stress the importance of giving feedback to their direct report(s) that is both positive and constructive during each of their 1-1s.

During each 1-1 with your direct reports, it’s important to give them both positive and constructive feedback. Let’s practice that today. When are your next 1-1s? What feedback would you give each of your direct reports?

If they can’t think of any feedback to give, it may be worth brainstorming some on the spot.

A note if you managed this new manager as an individual contributor before.

Perhaps you’ve not been the best role model in giving them weekly feedback back when they were individual contributors. Is it unfair to encourage your new manager to always give feedback to their reports if you didn’t give them much feedback?

It’s a question often asked by managers in your position. And the answer is “no, it’s not unfair”

There is no shame in starting today if you haven’t lived up to your own expectations; most people will start doing something new (or better themselves) at a time of change.  You can share this with your new manager: “I’m aware that in our previous 1-1s I did not always provide feedback. Moving forward, I would like us to hold each other accountable for giving feedback during our sessions.

Beyond week 4: Continue to support the growth of your new manager and their team

Focus on them and their team

During every 1-1, ask your new manager some questions about their team.

Instead of asking: “How’s that project going?”, ask: “How are you working with Anna to get that project done?”, or “How might you better support Anna on that project?

This signals how their role involves more than project output - they are directly responsible for the engagement and performance of their team.

Talk directly about how they are coaching and giving feedback. Examples of questions you can ask during your 1-1s:

  • What support will your direct report(s) need from you to stay on track?
  • Do you think [name of their report] is on track? How have you supported them?
  • How is [name of their report] feeling emotionally? Why?
  • What problems or concerns has the team shared with you over the past week?

Meet with your new manager’s direct reports (skip level) at least once in the first 6 months

There’s a fine line between undermining your new manager’s authority and being too hands-off. Make it clear that you plan to meet with their direct report(s) once in the next couple of months and explain what topics you will cover with them.

I’ll be asking your team what their experiences have been in working with you and what feedback they have for you. I’ll share themes and key learnings.

Credits: Photo by @finleydesign on Unsplash.