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Strategies for Training New Managers

"We promoted a great performer to a new manager’s role and they are not working out. What can we do?"


“We promoted a great performer to a new manager’s role and they are not working out. What can we do?”

This is such a common scenario in organizations. So why does it continue to happen and what can companies and HR professionals do to better select and support new managers?

First, let’s remember that transitioning from an individual contributor’s role to a manager’s role is not easy or simple. Sometimes people “glorify” managerial roles which prevents them from seeing the challenges as well.

The manager’s role is all about getting results through people. This means knowing what makes people tick, what motivates them to perform and how to build a high performance team.

New managers need to be informed and trained, but even more important is the process of identification, assessment and selection of new managers. It is in no-one’s best interest for a new manager to fail. It can damage the leadership brand of the organization and deter aspiring managers from wanting the leadership job.

What can organizations do to be proactive and help a manager succeed in the role?

Here are seven best practices and strategies:

Develop a competency model for the manager’s role which clearly outlines the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required for success.

When considering internal candidates ensure that a “management” role is in fact one of their career aspirations. Soliciting candidates who do not have a management role in their sights will make them feel they have no choice but to take the job, especially if they want to earn more money. This can prove to be disastrous if the situation does not work out, plus it could create legal risks for the company.

Provide a balanced view of the manager’s role. There are positive aspects to every job as well as trade-offs. Managers who are promoted within the same team will be managing former peers and maybe even friends. They will need coaching as to how to deal with the new work relationship and establish boundaries.

Ensure the process is sound and respected. Conduct an in-depth interview of all internal candidates. Don’t assume that because they know the organization this critical step can be skipped. Assess them with the same level of rigour as external candidates and complete skills assessments; these can later be used for professional development plans.

Work with the manager to develop a 100-day plan. Set dates within the first three months to discuss his or her progress, performance, milestones and challenges. Dealing with issues early on will increase the likelihood of success.

Arrange for coaching and the necessary training. New managers need to understand how to give feedback, address performance challenges, understand legal responsibilities and conduct performance reviews — to name a few of their challenges. Consider assigning a mentor who can share their lessons learned and navigate them through the first few months.

Consider lunch & learn sessions for the staff to discuss what it takes to be a manager within the organization, to enhance the role’s brand and encourage individuals to develop their skills.

Management roles offer exciting career and professional challenges while expanding one’s skills related to people. Let’s help people be successful by providing them with the appropriate training, tools and support. This way, everyone wins!

Fiorella Callochia, CHRP is principal of HR Impact and a member of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA)—Canada’s largest HR association. Do you have HR question? Check out HRPA’s small business info service at HRPA.ca/EZHR. It connects small businesses with human resources information experts and provides employment practices liability insurance.