Anytime you promote an employee to a management position, you are taking a gamble. The most widely cited stats place the manager failure rate around 50 percent during the first year. With those odds, it's wise if you invest some time training your new managers in the dos and don'ts.
Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, writes in Harvard Business Review about the usual mistakes of first-time managers. "One of the most common stumbling blocks for new managers is failing to set the right boundaries in their new job. These lines tend to get blurry as new leaders clamber to justify their promotion, often over-performing to produce great results," he writes. "Without clear boundaries, novice managers can become quickly overwhelmed by an unmanageable workload."
During your new managers' first few months at the job, they will be tempted to try to do everything themselves. As a leader, you need to make sure they create distance between their old responsibilities and their new ones. A new manager will feel "personally accountable for making sure that everything her team [produces is] perfect," Ashkenas explains. That urge will motivate them to just roll up their sleeves and do their team's work. But that type of management behavior sends a bad message to your employees. The result is that they don't learn how to do quality work on their own and no one takes initiative.
Make sure your new managers are able to communicate their new role and its boundaries to both their employees and higher-ups. For a quick refresher on how to set boundaries as a manager, see Ashkenas's suggestions below:
Provide the tools
As a first-time manager, you will need to tell your employees that they are "responsible for producing high-quality work" while you give them "the tools, training, and coaching necessary to make [it] happen," Ashkenas writes. You should give them examples of the type of work you expect and hold training sessions if they need it, but do not do the work for them. After the first big project, hold a review session with each employee and give them feedback.
Set boundaries with peers
You need to meet with the other department heads, Ashkenas says, to hash out how you will work together effectively. Once you get to know your peers and they get to know you, collaboration will be easier and work will "arrive on time and in the specified format," he says. Setting boundaries and expectations will help you avoid miscommunications and help you manage work coming in and out of your department and the company as a whole.
Define your role and success
As a new manager, you need to define your role and what success means for you personally. "A common mistake for first-time managers is assuming that every objective is important and needs to be completed as soon as possible," Ashkenas writes. You need to sit down with your boss and talk these things through and make sure you have a mutually beneficial definition of success. Examine the old manager's style and create a goal for success that is uniquely tailored to your strengths.
"Setting boundaries effectively gives you a way of multiplying your impact through others, which is, after all, the fundamental role of a manager," he writes.