Difficult Times for New Managers – 5 Strategies to Thrive

June 25th, 2020
5 Strategies to help New Managers in Difficult Times

Read article in its entirety here.

While lots of general advice circulates about how to manage remote teams during Covid-19, it tends to ignore advice tailored specifically for new managers.

Whereas seasoned managers may already intimately know the working styles of their teams, new managers might not know their team members interpersonally very well, and don’t have their years of management experience to rely on. Here are five strategies to thrive as a new manager during Covid-19:

1.Not all team members require the same management style

One new manager tendency is
to manage all employees the same way. Rather than applying a “one size fits
all” approach, take time to get to know each team member and ask how they work
best. The best way to do this is to lead with empathy, questions and trust. Ask
your team members how they work best in a remote setting. Then, ask them what
they need from you to be successful at their jobs.

2. Coach, don’t “do”

For individuals who have
recently shifted from an individual contributor role to a management role, it
can be confusing to flip off the “do” switch. Asking open-ended questions is a
good way to guide your team to discover their own solutions, rather than focusing
on task execution oneself. As a new manager, a great question to ask your team
is: do you want me to hear you, help you, or solve

3. Avoid over-communication on video calls

Since we’re missing organic
in-person office interactions, remote communication can feel more formal and
time consuming. It’s tempting for new managers to schedule many (Zoom) meetings
so that they feel more in control. Make sure you’re not scheduling needless
meetings when information could just as easily be conveyed via instant message
or email. But, do make sure you’re scheduling regular weekly 1:1 sessions with
each team member. Regularly checking in, from every standpoint, is a valuable
management tool.

4. Parse out what’s an actual problem versus a Covid-19 problem

New managers won’t have in-office work history to use as a point
of comparison. So, if you’re experiencing problems with an employee, it will be
difficult to tell if the problems are Covid-19 related versus typical. Make
sure you ask questions about the person’s normal working style, and ensure
you’re doing baseline emotional check-ins. If your employee has extenuating circumstances
at home right now (i.e. they’re homeschooling 3 kids), you’re going to need to
know that and support them accordingly. 

5. Don’t wait for a performance review to give feedback

New managers tend to be
conflict averse. But giving feedback doesn’t have to be negative, and it
doesn’t have to feel conflictual. Commit to giving regular, casual feedback
more frequently. Give both positive and negative feedback often. If you’re
remote, this could either be via instant message or phone.