Do you remember what it was like when you got your very first supervisory assignment or in-management position?
I do. Two words come to mind for me: Heady and scary.
Heady in that warm and fuzzy feeling of affirmation, that someone trusted me, and believed in me.
Scary in that I had no clue what to do next and how to ‘be’ from now on, despite all those times I’d evaluated my own bosses, thinking to myself, “That’s not what I’d do if I were in their shoes… I would_____, instead.”
All of a sudden, it’s a brand new day, but it doesn’t feel like KA LĀ HIKI OLA yet. Self-confidence drops to an all-time low. The scary gets bigger and bigger, and fear begins to cloud the common sense we were sure we’d once had.
We ask ourselves, what in the world did I get myself into?
Managerial rite of passage, examined.
All who are managers have gone through that heady-but-scary transition. You would think then, that empathizing with brand new managers would be easy for us: All we have to do, is remember what we went through ourselves, and make the experience better.
I consistently find that we do remember, but I also find a vast majority of managers who want their newbie counterparts to feel the pain, go through their own crucible of trial and error, learn from their mistakes, and pay their dues. I’ve never understood that belief: It’s a hit-and-miss rite of passage that goes more wrong than right.
And let’s be honest: Newbie managers should not have to go through unnecessary pain simply because we did too. They are not the ones who owe us. We are better than stooping to that expectation of payback a generation later.
Worse, others get hurt along the way, for the very premise of any supervisory assignment is that our newbie manager is now in charge of the performance of others. Why are we so willing to turn our people into guinea pigs?
In these scenarios, senior managers will often get pulled into the problem solving that results. It may occur where a problem never existed before, and all the new supervisor had to do was maintain the good dynamics already in place (which is never as easy as it sounds… ) As the saying goes, we’ve ‘cut off our nose to spite our face:’ Our expectation of a learn from your own mistakes entry into management has created many more problems than it’s worth.
Downright stupid when you think about it, isn’t it… we have created more work for ourselves, and it’s unpleasant work.
And to quote Taylor Swift, “Why you gotta be so mean?”
An ALOHA rite of passage, instead.
A promotion into management should feel heady because someone trusts us, believes in us, and will invest in us.
That investment need not be a formal training program, though I strongly believe that every workplace culture should have a management orientation program separate from, and in addition to, the normal employee orientation programs that will accompany a new hire’s first 90 days (widely considered the ‘at will’ period). In Managing with Aloha cultures, managers will repeat the managerial orientation (a 2-day workshop) every time they get a promotion; not just once. Each promotion equates to new context for the class, and as I will explain in a moment, a new partnering opportunity.
We don’t wait on this workshop, scheduling it quarterly or whenever we have a ‘decent’ class size. It is immediately done when someone is promoted as their day 1 and day 2 in that new position, even if that means there will only be 2 people in that workshop.
At the end of that 2-day managerial orientation, new managers are paired with older ones so they continue to learn from each other — they use each other, and count on each other, for counsel and advice in the day-to-day situational management each is now called upon to deliver to our workplace. No one goes it alone. For us, this is the peer-to-peer coaching foundation of what we consider our mentorship program to be.
I’m happy to tell you what’s included in our new manager’s orientation, but I don’t think I need to. Think back to your early days as a manager — what did you need to know? What support was most important to you? Then, bring that recollection into today’s context: What are your newly reliable sources of information? What values are most company decisions based on? What values are the primary drivers of the best performance indicators in your company? When there are problems, what is usually at root cause? What strategies have worked best in your teaming, and in project pilots?
Answer those questions, and others which determine healthy culture-building, and you’ll have your own curriculum. Cover the basic expectations of your cultural lexicon — your Language of Intention.
We now use this page in our Say Leadership Coaching orientations: Newer managers choose from the list in asking their questions. The older manager will furnish an answer based on their current experience in our company, and the workshop facilitator will add to it in a coaching conversation.
There is also a Day 3 to our managerial orientation that happens 30 days later, and focuses exclusively on The Daily 5 Minutes.
[Read more about MWA training expectations within this site tag.]
Start your supervisors, new managers, and new leaders in a better way, and the great way — with ALOHA. You’ll get the great results which affirm their choice to accept their new assignments, as an answer to A Manager’s Calling [The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers].
You’ll also be making an ALOHA investment in each other that is true MĀLAMA: Caring for, and stewardship of your greatest asset of human capital.
Postscript: If you are a new supervisor, or a newly promoted manager, and no such orientation exists in your company, ask for one. Have your first act be one of courageous leadership — lead the way by making the suggestion, and asking for what you know you will need to be successful.
The conversation continues…
If you are newly joining us here, this is part of a mini series on The Role of the Manager Reconstructed. You can catch up with this reading path:
- Now boarding; the ROMR Tour of Duty
- An ROMR Archive Review
- Reckoning with Role [to Value it.]
- Be Brave in Setting Your Limits
- The Opportunity to Reset
- then back to the top of this page!
The Role of the Manager Reconstructed is one of our 9 Key Concepts in the Managing with Aloha philosophy.
This article may also prove useful to you if you wondered about the vocabulary we use:
Managing with Aloha’s Lexicon Morphology
Mahalo nui, thank you for being here!