I was recently questioned about effective ways to help a new manager gain more confidence in his new role. He was a young man who performed well in his initial assignments and role and now was being promoted. He would continue to have some client contact and responsibilities and would also be expected to do more marketing and planning for the group, which will be new to him. We often see a need for coaching confidence in newly promoted managers and partners as they progress in their career and transition to new leadership roles.

I reflected on my own experience with executive coaching and playing team sports in the past and I spoke with a successful high school coach as I reflected on strategies I would recommend to help this young man build confidence in his new role. This blog explores a blend of both experiences to help build confidence through a repeatable feedback process that builds on current accomplishments, outlines new expectations, acknowledges success and provides feedback for improvement, and identifies opportunities for learning and development. The goal is to build confidence through repeated experiences of success.

  • Acknowledge and compliment current success! This staff person was promoted to management because of his prior successes. Acknowledge the qualities that made him eligible for the promotion and reinforce opportunities for him to continue those responsibilities or qualities where appropriate that he already knows how to do very well. He was “drafted” because he had proven that he could perform. Often, when someone is promoted the focus is on the newly-assigned tasks and the accomplishments of the past are ignored. It is especially important that the already-established strengths are recognized and reinforced.
  • Clearly identify the new expectations and responsibilities. With a new promotion comes new expectations for a different level of performance, responsibilities and results. Compose a list together of the expectations to create an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration, which will establish a foundation for success. By setting clear expectations, you can uncover potential areas of concern or fear in the new role that he may have and also learn what areas and opportunities for growth he is most excited about, too.
  • Offer support, coaching and training in the new role. Help him achieve success by providing the training and coaching that is needed. This may include reading assignments, attendance at workshops, and observing you or someone else who is already functioning effectively in the new position. The football coach approaches “shadowing” similar to being 2nd string as an available substitute who is watching the experienced player in the same position. He will learn by example and use the more experienced player as a mentor.
  • Huddle together. Meet regularly to talk about what is working in the new role and what isn’t – from both your perspective and his. Remember that failure precedes success and make it okay for mistakes to be made as he’s learning the ropes. An interception may be thrown before a touchdown pass. Ask open-ended questions during your meetings, such as, “What was new and different that worked well when you tried X or observed NAME? How can you put those qualities into your own skill set?” Create new opportunities to practice the new skill. Each time it will get easier. When the plan doesn’t work, come together again and design a contingency plan to get back on track and minimize failure in the future. And, remember to acknowledge and compliment progress and success along the way.

Acknowledge and compliment. Set expectations. Find opportunities to practice. Huddle and evaluate. Over time he will gain confidence and be the quarterback who looks over the line of defense to identify opportunities for learning and change. He “calls an audible” and makes the adjustment. He is learning to trust his own judgement in a new situation. As he masters his role, he will be ready to lead the team and run the next play with your help and support.

In summary, build confidence with repeated experiences of success. TOGETHER WE STAND! DIVIDED WE FALL! ALL FOR ONE! ONE FOR ALL! CHEER! PLAY BALL! How do you build confidence in those who are newly promoted or taking on new responsibilities as they progress in their careers? We’d love to hear from you!

Warm Regards,