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Trial by Fire – How do you train new managers?

How do you train new managers?

Do you simply promote your top individual contributors into management positions? Might not be such a great idea.

Promoting your best workers makes sense, but neglecting to train them to succeed in their new position can be a crucial mistake. Robert Kelly of Carnegie Mellon elaborates on this point in the Wall Street Journal when he says, “it’s an experience all too familiar to new managers. Employers often promote strong individual performers to supervisory roles with little instruction. But people who excel among the rank-and-file don’t automatically have the skills or knowledge to manage well. Companies call it ‘on the job training,’ but it’s really trial by fire.” Newly promoted leaders have challenges with delegation, managing former peers, and their training often doesn’t cover their newly acquired strategic needs.

One of the biggest challenges new managers face is how to supervise former peers, and it is hard for them to find a happy medium there. Some try too hard to stay close friends with their peers while others assert their new power too harshly. These are common reactions that are a result of lack of training. The new managers are not sure what to do so they just wing it, leading to mixed results.

According to the American Society for Training & Development, much of the training that managers receive involves things such as how to comply with workplace rules or how to create a budget. These are obviously important aspects of managing, but unless you give them training on how to coach, lead and properly interact with the people under them then you are not supplying them with the tools to succeed in their new roles.

The Oliver Group suggests onboarding all employees new to their roles, no matter how long they’ve been with the organization. While this onboarding process may not involve the typical aspects for a completely new employee, this is an opportunity for training on the soft skills that are often neglected, such as coaching and leading. Goals and expectations need to be clearly articulated to the employee, and he or she must understand the company’s strategic plan and where the new manager’s group fits in.

There are several ways to provide your leaders with the knowledge they need to succeed in their new roles. After a minimum of 6 months adjusting to a new job, the Leadership Pipeline Institute can help a newly promoted leader and also more seasoned leaders can utilize to learn how to become more successful leaders or become more effective leaders. Everything from work values and time management is covered, plus a leader learns how to directly impact his or her organization in a more powerful manner and set up direct reports for success as well. Executive Coaching is another method to prepare leaders. An objective consultant can work one-on-one with the leader.

Both these tactics, combined with effective onboarding for employees new to a role can help set them up for success. Help your leaders grow in effectiveness and align their values to the organization’s. Employees might appear to be on the “fast track” in their current roles, but don’t assume that they are automatically prepared for the next step.

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