And, What else?
With first-time managers a lot of what we work on is accelerating the pace of implementation into the job role and tipping the odds way more in favour of success. As I ask my clients, “What else is it about the work we do with first-time managers that’s important!?”
The answer to the question, “what else?” is, learning. A version of the Self-Directed Learning Cycle (SDLC) incorporates 4 steps: act, reflect, learn, plan, then act and repeat. This has the effect of putting learning into action and using action to reinforce learning. It’s a bit of a virtuous cycle. In the middle of that cycle are the relationships you have that support all aspects of the cycle - this is where your coach fits.
It's a start
So, why is this important? In your first role as a manager, you will be drinking from the proverbial “fire hose” - our work together helps you manage that flood of information and changes imposed on you through your responsibilities. As we increase the odds of success in your first role, you gain experiences, good and challenging. When you spend (and this has to be intentional) time reflecting on your experiences, you start to learn. You will immediately learn about what worked and what didn’t in that specific context - that’s the start. What’s more important is what you learn just below the surface. These things you learn are deeper, less context specific and can be taken forward with you and put to use in other contexts - other job roles - more senior roles.
One of my connections to learning came in the form of my first hire - getting a warm bum in a seat v. getting the right person in the right seat. It was a struggle as a first-time manager as I couldn’t get everything done without people (I was building my team). In the first case I got a person to join the team! Yay! Success. Then that person didn’t work out and I was in a worse situation. My next hire was a good one. From then on, I took my lumps and took more time to find the right person to fill any seat I had open.
Just keep going?
So what happens if you don’t intentionally create your own process to learn? What happens if you continue to take action without ever reflecting and adjusting your approach, your words, your actions? You get stuck or worse. Remember that, “60% of new managers underperform during their first two years. Those that survive develop bad habits that stay with them throughout their career.” (CEB; First Time Manager Survey, The Ken Blanchard Companies, 2015).
So, as a first-time manager, if you do nothing else, be intentional about your learning. Use the learning cycle and get other people involved in your learning journey! You will be more successful and you will take away much more than you ever thought possible!