Your favorite boss wasn’t always an all-star. While we’ve all heard of natural leaders, individual contributors are seldom ready to make the switch. In fact, one study found that nearly a third of new managers admitted they weren’t prepared when they made the jump.
While it’s natural for new managers to run into “imposter syndrome,” training can go a long way in alleviating it. Just as you would ramp up any new hire, consider implementing leadership training that covers these five areas:
1. Managerial Philosophy
New managers can’t be expected to jump into their roles and just wing it. Educate them about the managerial philosophies that inspire you. These will help them find the best management style for them and give them a sense of ownership in their new role.
For example, you may want to teach them how to be a great leader through the concept of servant leadership, which suggests that bosses should go out of their way to accommodate their employees — not the other way around. Just make sure new managers know they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to their leadership style; instead, they can learn from the countless other managers that came before them.
2. Supporting Employees
A new manager will most likely be tempted to spend a lot of time thinking about what they can do to make sure their bosses are pleased by their individual performance. While that’s totally understandable, the bottom line is that they should really step into that management role by putting their energies towards supporting their employees’ needs.
When managers support their employees in both the day-to-day work and their career goals, they build strong relationships. Those employees’ level of engagement will rise, and in turn, their performance will directly affect their new boss's performance.
3. Lifelong Learning
New managers should be encouraged to become lifelong learners who have the self-awareness to be constantly trying to improve themselves. When training a first-time manager, make sure that individual knows where to turn to for development resources and support in their new role. Create a culture where those in a management role are inspired to continue growing.
4. Communication Skills
New managers won’t succeed in their roles unless they are transparent and set clear expectations with their team members. Developing a leadership style built on open communication and regular check-ins can set the foundation for an effective manager. It’s imperative that new managers are trained for their roles thoroughly, and that ample time and resources go into developing and strengthening their communication skills. That way, employee engagement will be high, and the new boss's direct reports will understand what they need to do.
5. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Great managers possess higher levels of emotional intelligence, or the ability to control one's own emotions and see things from others’ perspectives. First-time managers need to develop empathy, which is its own skill set, so they can better understand what their direct reports are feeling.
Similarly, managers shouldn’t necessarily run from their emotions; they should embrace them. People are inspired by passionate leaders who know themselves and have a strong point of view. Make sure that the pressure of management doesn't cause your new leaders to lose sight of who they are — and what made them worthy of that promotion in the first place.
Be patient with new managers. Almost all of them will need some time to adjust to a new job and learn the necessary skills to be a good manager. When they're just starting out, set expectations for the next steps and encourage them to build self-awareness by frequently checking in how they’re doing. Assigning veteran managers as mentors can also help give them perspective.
To ensure new managers transition smoothly, train them thoroughly — just like you’d train any new hire — so they're prepared to be the effective leader your company needs.