Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

10 March 2007

LCBlog’s big question of the month: Supporting New Managers

Clark @ 11:23 AM

This month’s Learning Circuits big question is What Would You Do to Support New Managers? I’ve noticed that some create long answers to these questions, but I try to be brief. Of course, I risk people missing the nuances of my reply, but there’s only so much time in a day ;).

I remember a project we did with a client who had just this problem. They’d developed a set of exercises to assist the ‘promoted from the frontline’ managers in switching to the new role of manager. They did a good job of breaking down the tasks into small chunks, and our task was making an online version. NOT, of course, just putting them online, but revising them to achieve the objectives in the new media. Now if only I could remember what those chunks were…

This is a great example, by the way, where there’s an attitude change and major skill set development as well. The attitude change has to be one of moving from being a colleague and perhaps friend to being a respected manager. There’re a whole bunch of associated skills including comprehending business drivers, aligning and measuring performance, inspiring (versus just motivating), coaching, etc.

So what would I do to support them? Let them listen to some folks who were in the situation and learned lessons, have them explore their own views of management and compare to other views, provide them with principles and safe practice, and then scaffold that practice over time while providing them with a community for support. And I’d practice what I preach, inspiring them, coaching their performance, basically modelling the behavior I would want them to adopt.

It’s really the case of how I’d like to be developed as a manager!


  1. Clark:

    Great advice. The one phrase that deserves attention is “inspiring them.” So many managers and managers of managers don’t get that this is a part of the job. Taskmasters who assure that the job gets done certainly receive their bonus and a pat on the back from the appropriate executive. But too often, the cost is burnt out employees who feel used and under appreciated. Tapping into their intrinsic motivation to inspire performance they are proud of is where the best managers focus their efforts.


    Comment by Dave Lee — 18 March 2007 @ 12:05 PM

  2. Clark,
    I particularly liked your comments about practice and support. I am still surprised by how often great doers are promoted only to be set up to fail because they don’t have safe practice and support. Even companies with minimal resources can identify a manager or two to share lessons learned. That along with coaching and inspiring will help a new manager succeed, and eventually be an example to others as well.


    Comment by Michele Eby — 20 March 2007 @ 6:33 AM

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