Moving from an individual contributor role to a management role can be an exciting time for your employees. It’s a signal of their career growth and opens the door to even more opportunities for their development. It can also be a challenging time for the individual — and the organization — if these newly minted managers aren’t equipped to handle the new responsibilities and struggles they might face.
In truth, many recently appointed managers simply don’t understand their new jobs, which creates a risk for the organization. When a high-performing individual contributor fails to adjust a to a management position, the organization can suffer significant human and financial costs.
Stepping up as a manager requires additional skills to lead teams and improve their performance, make decisions and take responsibility when things don’t go as planned. The transition is difficult, but the good news, according to Gallup, is that many of the strengths new managers need for success can be learned.
Prospering companies are prioritizing investments in management training and harnessing strategies to develop their people for management positions — even before they’re promoted. Here’s how:
First: Training Can Dispel the Most Common Myths About Management
Most people have an idea of what it means to be a manager, but these notions are sometimes unrealistic and create false expectations that make the transition harder.
- Myth No. 1: People are born to lead. The idea that some people have a natural talent to lead and need no further training to take on a management role can make even the most talented individuals in your organization struggle with the transition.
- Myth No. 2: Authority comes with the job. New managers typically believe certain rights and privileges come naturally with the position. In reality, authority emerges as they establish credibility with team members, peers and superiors.
- Myth No. 3: Compliance and commitment are the same thing. New managers might think they have some authority over their people, but they won’t take the initiative if they’re not engaged with team goals. That will make it harder for the manager to trust, delegate and deliver quality results.
- Myth No. 4: Team building is a luxury. One-on-one relationships are important, but building a cohesive team is essential to achieve goals. When new managers focus on individual performance over team culture and performance, it can undermine progress.
- Myth No. 5: The manager should have all the answers. There’s a stigma that asking for help is a sign of weak management, but the key to development is finding support — specifically mentorship — whether inside or outside of the organization.
Second: Training Can Provide Strategies To Manage the Transition to Their New Job
New managers often feel tremendous pressure to perform and demonstrate themselves as an exception to the “Peter Principle.” Proper training can ensure that they:
- Make changes slowly: Effective management requires an understanding of organizational dynamics, including policies and procedures as well as goals, culture, and structure. New managers must be given the time to understand these dynamics so they can make informed decisions on whether their ideas support organizational objectives, and when is the right time to implement them.
- Create partnerships: Leading a team to success is their new main goal, but learning how to manage up, down, and sideways will give them a deeper understanding of your organization, where there are natural synergies for mutual success, and where they can go to get the help they need, when they need it.
- Demonstrate a commitment to transparency: Being open and proactive with their teams about the organization’s decisions and strategic plans is essential to building a positive culture. This ensures that everyone better understands their role in the company and works to accomplish the same goals, in addition to keeping engagement high.
- Cut themselves some slack: Being a manager is a complex job that often comes with previously unknown levels of anxiety. Training helps them understand that job, and the real expectations of it — much better. Also, knowing how to take care of themselves and their own mental health, as well as their team’s, will make them more effective.
Third: Training Ensures New Managers Benefit the Organization
Ultimately, providing leadership training to new managers translates to job satisfaction. New managers who cannot effectively lead their teams will either leave the company themselves, or their team members will. It’s well documented that employees who work at companies with professional development programs stay at their jobs longer and express more job satisfaction.
Since this has such an enormous impact on an organization’s success, management training should be viewed as an investment. Specifically, training helps new managers:
- Improve team performance: Effective managers need to motivate and empower their team members. Training on leadership and team management skills can help ensure that the whole team sets achievable performance expectations that meet business objectives.
- Develop strategic thinking skills: A successful manager must learn to think beyond what they did as an individual contributor and learn to think strategically, anticipate challenges, identify opportunities and propose a course of action that benefits the organization. These are not skills learned overnight, but nurtured and developed over time through training, mentoring and feedback.
- Learn to delegate effectively: New team leaders may hesitate to enforce polices or demand results, in an attempt to keep relationships with former co-workers who are now subordinates. They may also have difficulty trusting others to compete a task because they are used to “doing it themselves” and being rewarded for it. Helping them understand delegation empowers them to be better managers and strategic thinkers, and simultaneously empowers the people they manage to perform at their best in doing the work.
What a Management Development Program Should Cover
Managers must have certain knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) to achieve organizational success and to engage employees. These should be designed according to your organization’s structure and industry and should be designed to close specific skills gaps.
- Knowledge training could cover such topics as the company business model, company structure, company scope, internal policies and codes, labor laws and management theories.
- Skills training should include topics like leadership, scheduling, project and performance management, hiring, interviewing and termination, conflict management, team motivation, communication, decision making, coaching, giving feedback, goal setting and building trust, among other topics.
- Empathy training should not be overlooked. Empathy is an important ability for managers at all levels. Teaching managers strategies that help them empathize with their team can ensure that they better understand what team members need to succeed, and when they need extra motivation to do their jobs.
A leadership development program is a powerful tool for developing first-time managers. It can help ensure that they’re prepared to translate business objectives into actions that successfully achieve business goals. Their success benefits the entire organization in terms of employee morale and motivation, better retention, and lower costs for firing and rehiring.
One final, but important point: Management training cannot be viewed as a one-and-done investment. Especially for new managers, training should be ongoing and involved sustained mentorship from learning leaders, peers, the human resources team, company leadership and veteran managers.