The Rookie Manager Syndrome

Most Department Managers are promoted to the position because they performed well and earned the opportunity to take on a leadership role. What happens after the promotion? Are they prepared to lead a team? The responsibility can be overwhelming and oftentimes stressful. At this level, it is important to understand that it is no longer about our personal success; it’s about the success of others and how we can improve the team’s performance. One of my favorite quotes is from Zig Ziglar “We can have everything we want in life if we can help enough other people get what they want.” Let’s take a look at the 4 stages of the Rookie Manager Syndrome.

Stage 1

In this stage, we are not quite sure what we should be doing so we resort back to doing things we know how to do.

  • Write up a repair order
  • Stock shelves
  • Handle Service customers in the lane
  • Problem solve a repair.

These are all considered Non-Management tasks. There are times when these actions may be necessary; however, we should not be spending the majority of our time in this stage.

Stage 2

We now start to perform management tasks such as:

  • Conducting weekly meetings
  • Firefighting
  • Handling customer and employee complaints
  • Pay Plans
  • Monitor Sales

Stages 1 and 2 are where most Managers spend the majority of their time.

Stage 3

People Development

  • Staffing
  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Setting performance standards
  • Developing performance plans

Stage 4

Strategic Planning

  • Market analysis
  • Forecasting sales
  • Competitive analysis
  • Preparing budget
  • Profit
  • Setting objectives

More successful managers spend a majority of their time in Stage 3 and 4. When you move to stage 3 tasks, you actually multiply yourself by developing others with your expertise.

Here are 5 techniques that will help you move out of stages 1 and 2, and start spending more time in stages 3 and 4.

  1. Plan Higher Level Tasks FirstSchedule the tasks in stage 3 first. Ask your manager which 2-3 items in stages 3 and 4 are a priority.
  2. Quit Fighting Fires You Didn’t StartThe only way to stop “fighting fires” is to start coaching and developing your employees. Don’t immediately jump in to solve an employee’s problem. Challenge them with questions that will get them thinking about how they can solve it on their own.
  3. Get on the Same Page as your DealerWhat does your boss expect of you? You should be asking your dealer:  “What is my job? And how am I doing?”
  4. Don’t Get Too Attached to Your DeskGet out where your employees do their work and coach them before a problem arises.
  5. Cultivate the Right RelationshipsSuccessful managers spend their time nurturing relationships in the following order: employees, their manager, customers, and colleagues. What order is it usually?

Schedule time each day, 1 or 2 hours, and schedule tasks in stages 3 and 4. The results will be rewarding and stress levels will decrease. Developing our people is the most important thing we do as leaders.

Written by Pete November

If you would like to discuss more on this topic or any other topic, contact Pete November at 330-592-1535 or email

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