Frequently, I am asked to engage with talented individual contributors who have recently been promoted to a management position for the first time in their career. Never has it been truer that “the skills that got you here, won’t get you there.” (Link)
Liz is a 30 year old female, top performing sales professional who was recently promoted to sales manager, overseeing a team of 8 sales people. Like many in her position, there is a mix of qualities and abilities that present themselves. Nearly 60% of new managers receive no training when they’re promoted (source: ATD Source), so Liz found herself in a quandary.
Liz reached out for help because she felt overwhelmed by her new responsibilities. A friend recommended that she contact a coach to help her make the transition. I started the engagement with a 360 assessment of Liz, and surveyed her key stakeholders (manager, peers and direct reports). The results indicated that she was widely respected for her sales instincts, customer focus and relentless pursuit of achieving her goals. So far, sound good right? No, all was not well in Liz’s world. Feedback from her direct reports and peers indicated that Liz didn’t have the kind of management skills that fostered collaboration and teamwork.
In the 6 months since Liz was in the title role, 2 high performing sales people had resigned and the remaining sales people reported feeling micromanaged and demoralized when they took Liz along to sales calls. Through the process of coaching, the coach uncovered that Liz has strong distrust issues related to her direct reports. She wanted to be included in every decision they made and frequently did not agree with her directs’ decisions that often she overrode them. Many articles have been written of mistakes made by first time managers, and Liz was falling into almost all the traps. (Source: 4 Mistakes of first-time managers)
The Plan for Liz
I used both the 360 results and a behavioral work styles assessment on Liz framework for her current management and leadership competencies. We reviewed the results together, and put together a six month coaching plan. I met with Liz on a weekly basis for the first 2 months and then biweekly thereafter. A large portion of the conversation dealt understanding the differences between leading, managing and micromanaging. The plan included my 5 step formula for success:
1) Set Specific and measurable Goals
2) Take an Inventory of strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes
3) Create a compelling Vision of what you want to become
4) Determine what skills or abilities you need to Acquire
5) Take immediate and sustained Action
At the end of the six month engagement, another 360 assessment was given to the same group of stakeholder. The results showed measurable progress in three key areas: ability to listen, manage to key metrics, and creating rapport and empathy with her staff. Liz herself stated that her key learning was in “finding the right balance between giving her employees space to come to their own decisions and telling them what to do”. Her team reported that they appreciated Liz’s ability to modify her behaviors and caring about the team to dig deeply within herself which positively impacted collaboration, motivation, and ultimately business results.
If you see a bit of yourself in Liz’s journey, think about using a couch. Bill Gates says “everyone needs a coach”. (Source: Link to YouTube video).
CEO, MACH4 Ventures
Gina Lepore is the CEO and founder of MACH4 Ventures offering coaching, team building and execution consulting for individuals and organizations. She is a board certified coach and experienced executive with multiple decades of practical business experience. Services include: Executive Coaching, Training and Building Team Trust and Collaboration and Business Oversight Services.