Initially, I thought, it won’t. New managers are employees too, and the job doesn’t really matter ” managers need these basics spelled out for them just as much if not more. We make far too many assumptions at work, when we should be talking about them.
Thing is, like it or not, there are a lot more expectations of new managers, and not too much time is given to them to ease on down that yellow brick road where the light shines more brightly at the end of the tunnel (”couldn’t resist, fingers kept going”:)
So this next article came to mind for this week’s Thursday archive visit. Cool update to the posting is that Chris writes me every so often since this first time in August of last year. He’s at a different company now because his family moved to a new city, and so he’s used this twice now! And yes, he is a manager, discovering that management is his calling.
New to Management: A Learning Hit List
[I had originally written this article for Lifehack.org and published it there in August of 2006.]
As the author of Managing with Aloha, I get some great questions from managers and leaders via email. This one came a few days ago:
I just got a job as an intern. I’m pretty excited about it, for this company is growing like crazy, and they are known to give their graduating interns terrific opportunities if they’ve done well within their program. I’m hoping this will segue into my first management job when the term is over.
The manager I report to, clued me in to the fact that learning is highly valued here. In your book, you’re pretty passionate about learning too: What kinds of things do you think I should include in my list of things to learn while in my internship?
I’d appreciate hearing of your thoughts.
I sent Chris my two Short 7 Lists for New Managers, and I thought I’d share them with you too.
Some history: The first time I wrote these out I was a much younger manager, but after a few management gigs already logged in my work history, I knew I’d inevitably get a different position down the road. I wanted to have a check-list for myself that I could write out and stash somewhere instead of recreating the wheel all the time. Then the day came that I tweaked my lists to use in my training of new supervisors. Felt like I was going full circle again editing this for Chris to read as a self-coaching listing.
Here they are:
The Business List
- Learn the company’s values, brand promise, vision, and mission.
- Learn what the customer wants, and what all stakeholders expect.
- Learn the business model, and learn the ‘financial literacy’ of the company.
- Learn how the company communicates, by learning the vocabulary of the industry, and the ‘language’ of their relationships.
- Learn to be optimistic and positive, with an attitude of abundance, not scarcity.
- Learn to shelve your ego, and always work on what’s good for the company as a whole.
- Learn that integrity and ethics are just fancy words for telling the truth and doing what is right.
The Managing People List
- Learn that management is very visible, and your behavior shines like the brightest neon light.
- Learn to listen well, and listen way more than you speak. Learn to ask great questions.
- Learn to respect the dignity and intelligence of other people, no matter where they sit on the organizational chart.
- Learn to identify and employ strengths in others in ways that make their weaknesses irrelevant.
- Learn that in working with others, managers must “do with,” not “do for.”
- Learn to catch people doing things right, and give others credit where credit is due.
- Learn that being a great manager is a calling, not a promotion.
Will Chris have more to learn? Sure. Lots more. But I believe that concentrating on these things first, in an internship sure to seem very short, will serve him well. He will learn more than he can now even imagine.
What were your most noteworthy lessons learned when you were a new manager?
Learn the business model, and learn the ‘financial literacy’ of the company.
This may have been one my own hardest lessons learned as a young manager. Frankly, I was too trusting. I assumed, and very incorrectly, that the guys in the corner office with the rock-star titles knew what they were doing when it came to the business being profitable, and staying that way. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
There is nothing more frustrating than working hard on something because you believe in someone, and then finding out that they didn’t really know their stuff, and you were working so hard on the wrong thing.
Today I understand that financial literacy is hugely empowering, and it sheds so much light on so many different variables. Learning the business model (how the company makes money and cycles it) is different from learning the Business Plan (mission-connected strategic objectives.) When you are financially literate in a company, you know both things, and you are comfortable with the vocabulary and jargon surrounding both things.
I really need to better populate this category, but for now: What does ‘financial literacy’ mean to you?
“Learn to ask great questions.”
There really is no better way to get people talking. And because you are the one asking the question, you also get to choose who you will ask it of! Here are other posts on the art of the question: