Manager Boot Camp: Lessons from the Field

We spend a lot of time and effort onboarding new employees, and if you ask any HR professional, they will tell you that this training is vital to maintaining the company’s performance standards across the board. Without this initial training, there is no baseline for employee performance or behavior; you miss out on an important opportunity to set expectations, provide valuable information, and establish the quality of work within a new department and role. But while we focus heavily on providing this information for new hires, we are not providing the same service for our midlevel managers, and while most managers quickly adapt to their new roles, it would expedite and regulate the process to provide manager training an onboarding, to assist newly promoted or hired managers from getting the lay of the land quickly.

On that note, we decided to interview managers from different industries and with different levels of experience, to find out from them what they had to do to get themselves up to speed, and the information and advice they would have loved to have had starting out. This will ultimately be an indispensable guide for employees and managers alike, but for now we wanted to take the most important points and make them available for everyone. Here then is your manager boot camp – four facets of being a new manager that you need to consider to succeed.

Peer 2 Peer

As a new manager, or a manager who is new to the company, you have a lot of new experiences to adjust to. But it is important that you do not forget what worked for you as an employee who once reported to your own manager. An essential part of being an employee is forging connections and mentoring partnerships with your peers – everyone has a unique skill-set, and by working together and blending these specialties the whole team is positioned to perform better. Managers are no different, and new managers especially will need to rely on this. Find people up or across from your position to work with and learn from. Follow the lead of good leaders, and you’ll be one step closer to effectively heading up a team yourself.

Role Modeling

In that same vein, take some time to think on past managers of yours. Consider what didn’t work: the flawed incentives, the impersonal interactions, the over zealous micromanaging. Learn from these failed tactics, and make sure you don’t end up reenacting these pitfalls. More importantly, think about what worked best with your past favorites – confidence and trust in the team, a welcoming and approachable demeanor, and engaging incentives for top performers. Borrow everything you want from these past role models, and move on from any poor past practices

Resource Rainbow

One thing that a lot of managers we spoke to mentioned is the power of available resources to make their manager transition more palatable, versus the pain of having to create their management tools from scratch. Some people we spoke to said they had to build out and manage their own manual processes to track employee performance and objectives, and they found that to be a difficult and time consuming undertaking. So make sure you ask around as to what resources are available to managers – from training materials and corporate educational sources to objectives management systems and automated incentive compensation plans. You need to know what you have to work with, and request the systems that you really need to succeed.

People Person

Being a manager and building a good incentive plan are not so different – both require you to know your audience. As a new manager, take time to learn about the people you are tasked with managing. Find out what they like and dislike so you can properly provide them with meaningful incentives. Learn a little about themselves, so you can better understand their work-life balance needs. Take time to test them out with projects, establish trust with them, and figure out what management style they need to thrive and perform. You already know how important it is to connect with people, no one has to teach you that, but we cannot stress enough the importance of a personal connection to these things. As ever, humanity wins out, and the more personal and genuine your approach is, the better your results will be.

So that’s your first-time-manager crash course, remember these things and you’ll have a strong footing on day one. For more on managers, check out our new guide when it is released in a few weeks, and tweet your management tips @Xactly to join the conversation!


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Manager Boot Camp: Lessons from the Field

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