While we might want to believe otherwise, an incredibly talented employee doesn’t automatically translate into a great manager. In fact, one study found that 26% of new managers admitted they weren’t prepared to move into leadership positions the first time they became bosses. The lack of readiness can be daunting, especially if they feel you might have expectations based on their work performance. But remember: this different role will present new challenges for them, so it's essential you get them started on the right foot.
If they’re first-time managers, there’s a lot to being a good manager that they might not know, and it would be prudent to invest in a thorough manager training program. Just as you expect managers to support their team members and direct reports, you need to do the same for these new bosses, and help them build their leadership skills. For the best results, new managers should receive leadership training for their management position in the following five areas:
1. Managerial philosophy. New managers can’t expect to show up on Day 1, completely wing it in their new position and be successful; they don't have the necessary skill set yet. 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 performances 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 expectations that are very specific with their team members. Developing a leadership style based in open communication and following-up with direct reports through regular check-ins can set the foundation for an effective manager. It is therefore imperative new managers are trained for their management role 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 with certainty what they’re supposed 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 other people’s perspectives— in essence, they need to develop their people skills. First-time managers need to develop their empathy, which is its own skill set, not only so they can understand why certain people feel certain ways, but also so they can understand themselves. They shouldn’t 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 management role doesn't cause your new manager to let go of who they are; great leaders know their personalities are an asset.
Keep in mind that even the best management training program won’t necessarily turn out bosses who are ready to dominate right away. New managers are people too and while a smooth transition is ideal, some rookie managers will struggle a bit. Almost all of them will need some time to adjust to a new job, and build the necessary skill set to be a good manager. Make sure new managers know that it’s okay to make mistakes while they adjust to their new role. When they are just starting out, set expectations for next steps and encourage them to build self-awareness by doing frequent check-ins where they list their strengths and weaknesses so they know which areas they should focus on improving.
Companies that throw new managers into the mix without starting them on the right foot will almost certainly regret it down the line. To ensure new managers transition smoothly into their positions, train them thoroughly—just like you’d train an entry-level new hire— so they're prepared to be an effective manager.