High-performers who are ambitious and want to grow tend to be top-picks when it comes time to promote someone to manager.
More than likely - these new managers won’t have all of the skills they need right away. It’s important to be able to recognize the right employee to transition into a first-time manager, but it’s crucial to help them become the skilled leader that the organization needs.
Even if someone is excellent at their job, being a new manager comes with an entirely new skillset. They are not just responsible for themselves anymore - they have an entire team to manage.
The good news is that there is a recipe to make this transition into a new manager go far more smoothly than “throwing them into the ocean to learn how to swim”.
Here are some topics to focus on when training your new managers:
Effective communication is essential to employee engagement, professional development, and building trust within a team. Positive work relationships equal happier employees. A manager needs to recognize ways to facilitate this effective communication.
Employees should be encouraged to share their ideas and concerns - both positive and negative. They need to know that their thoughts and opinions are heard and valued by their manager.
Effective communicators are clear and concise in their messaging, know how to manage their nonverbal communication, and are attentive listeners. Mastering the essential skills of communication is key to creating a happy work environment.
Basic Leadership Skills
Leading a team requires being able to see past attitudes, and focus on behavior. A good way to achieve this is to consider only factual information while assessing the performance of the team member. A good manager avoids expressing personal opinions of team members, as it can lead to projecting favoritism towards certain employees.
Focusing on facts and encouraging team members to do the same will help keep conversations objective and professional while addressing an issue. It will also allow team members to maintain a healthy level of self-esteem and confidence. These general leadership skills are important to train your new managers on because they apply to many of the following topics in this blog as well.
Training your new managers on the essential skills of leadership will help them lead a team of happy employees to be productive and motivated.
The Ability to Coach or Train Others
A manager’s job includes mentoring team members and guiding them towards better results. A manager should be able to recognize whether there is a performance issue that needs improvement and determine if the team member requires training or coaching.
Training is necessary to help the employee become proficient in a new task by teaching them the process. Coaching corrects a gap in quality or quantity of work, and allows new managers to pass along the nuanced skills they’ve learned during their experience doing the job themselves.
If a manager doesn’t recognize the reasons behind the employee failing to perform a task, the problem won’t get fixed. If a manager is trained to address the issue correctly in the early stages, the team member will receive the help they need which will result in increased productivity and satisfaction.
A great way to train new managers to coach effectively, is to use the principles of effective coaching and training throughout your process of growing them into an effective manager. This way, they have practical experience with the topic, and can apply the same skills with their team members.
Effective Communication with Upper Management
As important as it is for a first-time manager to effectively communicate with their team, it’s equally crucial that they can communicate with those above them in the org. structure. There are some tricks in the “communicating up” process that they might need to be trained on.
Some things for new managers to think about when determining how their boss communicates, are: their favorite medium, preferred frequency, and amount of detail they require.
Not only will the manager have to handle their own communication, they might have to communicate up messages from their team. They will also have to learn to be clear and concise and focus on the points that are important to their boss to make sure they are heard and understood.
Now that your new manager has a team to help them get work accomplished, the need to delegate is inevitable. The delegation process includes deciding what exactly to delegate and who the best person for the task is.
Managers also need to recognize that there are certain tasks that can’t be delegated, such as personal matters, evaluations, discipline or salary discussions.
Even after deciding to whom to delegate a task, the manager may still run into issues such as lack of team member confidence or unwillingness to do the task. Hearing and addressing these concerns are very important steps in the delegating process. Motivating employees to genuinely want to perform tasks will result in higher quality of work.
Developing Performance Goals and Standards
Team member motivation is a big variable in team success and happiness. Goal planning motivates team members by helping them see how their efforts make a real difference for the greater good of the organization. This builds a sense of community and belonging. Help your manager set performance goals for themselves, as well as for their team members.
By focusing on logical processes and reasonable commitments, Developing Performance Goals & Standards enables managers to outline clear work standards and encourage better performance on the job. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-framed) approach with team members, managers are able to demonstrate their commitment to an open and consistent performance improvement process and effectively motivate team members.
When employees clearly understand their performance goals and how they relate to the larger goals of the company, they become more engaged with their work and more committed to the success of the organization.
Promoting Effective Discipline
Disciplinary situations arise in almost every workplace. It’s important handle these issues with care, and to train new managers to effectively navigate these “sticky” situations. If gone unresolved, performance issue can escalate and affect workplace environment, as well as the quality of employees’ work.
In order to deal with the issue effectively, a manager has to be clear and objective in their communication while still showing a level empathy for their team member. Managers should guide the employee towards a clear understanding of what needs to be changed. When the team member comes up with their own disciplinary ideas, they are much more likely to see the justification behind them, and see them through.
The new manager should also show confidence in the employee’s future success and track their progress by scheduling follow-up meetings. Training your new manager to handle disciplinary issues effectively and early on can help avoid conflict situations down the line.
Improving Work Habits
People are creatures of habit. When it comes to the workplace, we have to learn how to deal with each other’s habits by accepting some of them and correcting others.
The first step to dealing with a poor work habit is determining that it’s definitely not a performance issue. As always, the manager has to be focused on the facts while analyzing a team member’s poor work habit. Whether an employee is late to work or takes overly long lunch breaks, it’s crucial for the manager to know and communicate facts. Using general language, saying “You’re always late, and your lunch breaks take forever” is obviously not a good conversation starter.
Instead, saying, “Last week you came to work 5 minutes late on Monday and Thursday” will give context and allow for an objective discussion.
Taking complaints into consideration, and responding reasonably is important to any new manager who wants to maintain a level of trust amongst their team. Training your new manager to manage complaints effectively will help to improve workplace culture, and increase team performance.
It’s not enough for a manager to have a general idea of what employees are complaining about. The manager needs to identify the underlying issues and reasons why people are complaining so that they can address these complaints accordingly. This is not an easy task unless the new manager learns how to listen to the team members, clarify details, and show empathy.
After all, there is no such thing as a “stupid” complaint. Something that’s bothering a team member, no matter how insignificant it might seem, will affect their overall performance. Managers should show that they are capable of listening to issues and addressing them. This is a foundation of building a trusting relationship between a leader and their team.
Providing Performance Feedback
Most people want to hear feedback about the work they are doing. Providing performance feedback to your team members gives them the information they need to be successful. When employees are passionate about their success, it keeps them excited about the projects they are working on.
A manager should be aware of their team members’ performance, so it shouldn’t be hard for them to provide effective feedback. They must be able to establish a process that helps improve workplace performance while maintaining strong relationships within the team. This can be done through one-on-one meetings or during formal performance reviews.
Train your first-time manager to give credit for job well done or provide constructive criticism to correct the team members’ performance. They will see it as motivation and strive to improve their work.
When a conflict occurs, it has a huge impact on the productivity of an entire team. Team member conflict is distracting, and can lead to people taking sides and supporting disruptive ideas. The way a manager deals with conflict will depend on the source of the problem (ie: personality clashes, differences in work-styles, etc) as well as which of the 4 stages the conflict is in. Here are the 4 phases of conflict:
- Disagreement arises
- The conflict comes to the manager’s attention
- The conflict escalates and affects job performance; the manager starts investigating by talking to the team members involved
- The parties agree to the necessary behavior changes
Handling conflict effectively at any stage requires a manager to be impartial, to treat the team members equally and respectfully, and to eventually resolve the conflict by establishing a clear plan of action.
Teach your new manager techniques for conflict resolution, so that their team could focus on achieving professional goals rather than arguing about them.
People can be very different in a way they react to change. While some team members are constantly looking to grow and evolve, others enjoy the comfort of knowing that everything that happens today will stay the same tomorrow. Within an organization, change is inevitable at one time or another. When a manager knows how to help their team members deal with change, this transition goes much smoother.
An initial reaction to change is usually resistance. Even new managers should be able to address concerns and answer team members’ questions calmly and respectfully. This will help them transition into the next stage, which is “exploring” the reasons and implications of the change. What helps make this process run more smoothly, is involving concerned team members in some initiatives related to change and training them to acquire new skills.
Giving employees a clear idea of the reasons, plan of action, and their own personal involvement with the proposed change can help them feel more at-ease about the future. Train your new manager to handle these transitions to keep their team productive and optimistic.
Set your new managers up for success
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, people spend 8.8 hours each day working. This is why it is so important for businesses to prioritize employee engagement, happiness and fulfillment. Implementing effective training solutions for your new managers is a great way to introduce your team to effective behaviors. As a result, you can expect increased productivity and workplace satisfaction. Training your new managers on these skills can have a massive ripple-effect on your organization.