Magazine article Talent Development

From Me to We: Six Research-Based Ideas to Help New Managers Flip Their Thinking from Me to We

Magazine article Talent Development

From Me to We: Six Research-Based Ideas to Help New Managers Flip Their Thinking from Me to We

Article excerpt

Do you remember the first time you learned something new? Maybe it was a sport, a hobby, or a musical instrument. Maybe it was how to drive a car. Perhaps it was something you were going to do for the first time, such as getting married or having a baby. No matter what it was, I bet there is something in common among them.

For instance, when I first learned how to play golf, I read books, but I also had an instructor help me understand how to grip the club, take my stance, and swing. When I first learned how to drive a car, I attended a class where I was in a simulator, took lessons from a skilled teacher out on the road, and my parents went out with me too. Before I got married, there was pre-marriage counseling with readings, assessments, role plays, and talks with the minister. If and when the important "first born" comes, I'm told Lamaze and parenting classes will be in our future.

You probably realize what the commonality is. No matter the topic, in most "firsts" in our lives, there is almost always some sort of training and support for everything new we are about to learn. But it's not like that for the majority of those in organizations who become a leader for the first time.

How bizarre is that?

No training means little success

Newly minted first-time managers and new leaders are usually part of the biggest population of leaders in any organization: frontline, first-line, and entry-level managers, supervisors, and directors. They directly manage more people than any other managerial level; have a closer connection to the customer than any other managerial level; affect some of the biggest key performance indicators of organizations, such as employee engagement and productivity; and shape the future of your organization's leadership pipeline. Yet the stats keep showing that most first-time managers and new leaders get no training or development when they transition from high-performing individual contributors to leaders. And those who do get way less than more senior-level executives with more tenure and experience as leaders.

Is it any wonder why employee engagement is so low? Is it any wonder why, from my research, half of managers are ineffective in their roles? Or why after an average of only 20 weeks (143.8 days to be exact), organizations know whether new managers have failed in their first leadership position? If we are not setting up new leaders for success from the beginning, organizations and talent pipelines suffer, not to mention the morale, engagement, productivity, and health of those who directly report to them.

Time to flip

I have become passionate about bringing awareness and building a community of people to help new leaders (and those who have been leaders for a while, but never got the support and development they should have gotten in the first place). Imagine the positive changes we can make in the workplace if we are able to give the time, resources, support, and development all new leaders on the front lines deserve. Employees would be more involved and engaged in their work, more committed to their organization, and happier and healthier.

To achieve that, we need to help first-time managers and new leaders on the front lines "flip their script" to be successful. Here's what I mean.

As an individual contributor, the script is all about "me, myself, and I"--success is all due to my own unique, individual talents, my motivation, my smarts, and my technical skills and mastery that no one else can do. That script obviously has served individual contributors well and it most likely earned them their promotion into leadership. At that time, there was nothing wrong with living that script.

But when individual contributors become leaders working on the front lines, that particular "me, myself, and I" script becomes outdated and obsolete in their new leadership role. To be successful in their new leadership role, they must flip their script from me to we and realize, "It's not about me anymore. …

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