Managers are key to the success of any business as they have the responsibility to oversee people, engagement and work product. Strong mangers not only assure work is being completed correctly and safely, but also promote a sense of purpose and pride that can translate to productivity, retention and growth.
But today's managers are much busier than their predecessors. Team members look to them for more than guidance on daily work: they expect their manager to help guide their career, developing skills and characteristics that will help them advance. In today's talent market, managers who don't help their staff grow are likely to sow discontent.
With so much responsibility on their shoulders, managers need more support and training than they're typically given. Many report they aren't getting the training they need, leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed at work. But organizations that provide the proper training and development may see key performance indicators rise, along with higher engagement and lower attrition.
What do new managers need?
Like the majority of new employees, new managers face a learning curve when settling into their duties. A 2016 survey of chief financial officers by Robert Half revealed a list of top challenges when becoming a manager: nearly a third (32%) worried about balancing individual responsibilities with the need to oversee staff, while 19% said it was most difficult to manage friends and former peers. Others found it challenging to motivate teams (17%), prioritize projects (16%) or meet higher performance expectations (16%).
In an email to HR Dive Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said new managers need support from their employers. "Becoming a manager for the first time represents a major career milestone, but it also presents new challenges," Hird said. "New managers and their bosses should work together to ease the transition and find ways to help balance individual and team needs."
"New managers need confidence," Nicole Bendaly, president of K&Co, said in an email, "and much of that confidence comes from having the knowledge and support they need to do the job well." Seasoned managers have experiential knowledge to refer to and fall back on, but for new managers, every moment can be a learning experience.
"New managers will stub their toes along the way," Hird said, "but learn in the process and come out better for having persevered through any struggles."
Structured and ongoing training are both critical. New managers may not need training in processes, but soft skills training on subjects like leadership and communication can put them on the road to success. Consistent follow-through support enables managers to turn learning into action.
Leadership development is an effective tool, Hird said. Applied across the company, this assures managers carry themselves consistently and share the firm's vision and practices with employees.
New managers may be struggling to balance their own tasks with their new role, so access to learning must be available in a way that fits with their schedule. Opening access to mobile learning can provide on-demand training for busy new managers.
Mentors available to guide and train
"Mentors play a valuable role in the development of all professionals and can be especially helpful in showing new managers how to navigate different situations," Hird said. L&D should provide mentor relationships for new managers and help employees build their networks, introducing them to colleagues across the firm and assigning them to cross-departmental initiatives.
These tactics can also help those who've been internally promoted to a managerial role. While external hires will need to get up to speed on company culture and practices, internal promotions may need help adapting to larger objectives and processes.
"The ability to learn from the successes and trials of others not only helps managers succeed," Bendaly said, "but also creates a true learning environment and strengthens collaboration within the organization."
Those in charge of learning must be champions of development, influencing senior management to provide resources and commitment to ensure every new manager's success, whether those managers are new to the company or new to the role. Working directly with the new manager, their supervisors and direct reports, L&D professionals can determine what training is needed, and how to deliver it effectively.
"There is nothing more exciting than seeing people new to leadership roles learning, applying that learning and then thriving in their leadership jobs," Bendaly said. "They not only invigorate those they lead but their peers as well. Imagine an organization full of them."