New Manager Training: How to Turn Your Managers into Exceptional Leaders
Not all managers are born leaders. But, especially for new managers, it's the company's task to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in their new position and become invaluable leaders setting the tone of your workplace culture and growth.
But the main question here is: how do you turn your new manager into a good leader?
This article aims to answer this question. You will discover the steps to creating a solid new manager training process that gets new managers up to speed with their roles faster. We'll also share a few helpful resources and free courses to help them better understand the art of leadership.
❓ Why should you give new managers dedicated training?
You promoted an employee to a management role because they were good at what they did in their past function. But this doesn't guarantee they have what it takes to fulfill their new responsibilities and tasks.
Being the ones in the driving seat, managers have a huge impact on their team: They plan and organize. They make decisions. They lead.
Gallup found only 1 in 10 people "possess the talent to manage." With 26% of managers admitting they weren't ready to become leaders when they first started managing others, it's clear that getting the right training is necessary to improve.
Additionally, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores, which could explain why only a third of employees in the U.S. are engaged.
In fact, 57% of Americans have left their job because of their boss at some point in their career.
Thus, you cannot rely on finding a naturally born leader who is ready to take your department to new heights. Instead, you must invest in your new managers and give them dedicated training.
Additionally, management training brings numerous excellent benefits for the whole organization:
- Increased Manager Confidence: A good training program makes managers comfortable in their roles more quickly. Ensuring new managers have the tools to succeed in their new position will increase their confidence.
- Increased Productivity: Managers with good leadership skills understand the importance of proper communication with team members. Efficient communication will enable new managers to build a more satisfied team who are more productive and motivated to give their best at work each day.
- Improved Retention: A good manager makes employees feel they are actively contributing to the company's success. This simple move inspires loyalty, encouraging them to continue working under someone who appreciates their work.
If you invest time in creating and delivering new manager training programs, your employees will be ready for the challenges they are likely to face and equipped with the skills they'll need when doing their job.
💪 What skills does a manager need?
Before discussing new manager training in more detail, it's important to understand what skills your newly promoted employee needs to do their job successfully.
Strong communication skills
A manager has to handle difficult conversations and approach employees and leaders constructively. This includes giving employees constructive feedback, navigating conflict, and negotiating. That's why being able to communicate needs effectively is essential.
This skill is also necessary to make team members feel valued and to motivate them to produce high-quality work consistently.
Managers are responsible for ensuring their team or department achieves their goals, but they can't if they try to do everything alone.
That's where delegation comes into the picture. Managers need to know each team member's weaknesses and strengths and assign duties accordingly to complete the big-picture goal.
Trusting employees to complete their tasks on time is also essential when delegating duties.
Competition between team members can be healthy and stimulating. But if the members start leaving others behind to focus on individual objectives, the team will most likely fail.
New managers need to know effective ways to ensure team cohesion and collaboration. They should notice irregularities and take corrective measures through healthy discussions and empathy.
Another critical aspect of team building is building trust between members—and the manager. If the manager can build trust, they can create a more committed team.
Managing projects and prioritizing tasks
Project management is also a critical skill impacting all areas of a manager's role.
Managers inspire and motivate team members to work together toward a shared goal, ensuring all company projects meet their deadlines. Managers have to prioritize tasks and set reasonable expectations for team members to accomplish objectives, even when they have limited resources.
Problem-solving and sound decision-making
Managers regularly spot and solve problems. To do so, they must pay attention to detail and stay focused when problems arise to keep their team productive and streamline workflows.
New managers also need creative thinking skills to brainstorm innovative solutions that minimize any adverse effects on the business. Creative thinking helps them make snap decisions after weighing all pros and cons to complete business tasks and goals.
The above list isn't exhaustive, though. You can create a leadership competency model to outline the required managerial skills based on company objectives.
Tip: A competency model will also help you identify exceptional employees fit to be managers within your organization.
🔍 What should your new manager training process include?
Your new manager training process needs certain elements to be effective. Here's a quick list of a few of them to create an effective onboarding process for new managers:
Working with different personality types
Managers with leadership skills are always self-aware. They understand individual differences, use different communication styles, and handle inappropriate behavior—all while understanding their role in each scenario.
By understanding each team member's personality, managers will be able to tailor their feedback mechanism, as well as support offering. In addition, a complete understanding of team assets can lead to a more successful team and trust between management and their direct reports.
Each employee has a specific skill set, personality, and capacity to learn new skills. A new manager appointed via internal mobility will have already displayed specific skills. Yet, it can still be an interesting exercise to create a broader competence profile, focusing on their strengths.
There are various tests and tools that can help you determine your new managers' most vital strengths.
For example, the CliftonStrengths assessment, developed by The Gallup Organization, helps individuals discover their top five strengths. This tool seeks to help organizations improve company culture and performance.
Highlighting your manager's strengths and weaknesses has two benefits:
- You get insights into how to make your new manager more efficient.
- Your manager learns how to work in a style that maximizes workplace productivity and overall results.
Tip: Go beyond just revealing your new manager's strengths. Instead, provide them with actionable insights and methods for developing their full potential.
🚨 6 Critical training topics for leaders
If you're building your company's new manager training program or are refining an existing one, include topics that will help new managers do their job more efficiently.
It's critical that new managers understand the specific regulations that apply to their organization. Think certifications for certain positions, insurance renewal, and so on.
Tip: We recommend offering periodic refresher courses for experienced managers, too, especially if you're a part of a heavily regulated and highly dynamic industry.
Help your new manager maximize productivity and prioritize managerial tasks by educating them on how to manage their workday to allow for meetings, reviews, reports, and more.
Tip: Encourage them to apply time management strategies to become more productive, less stressed, and, more importantly, accomplish more in less time.
New managers should know how to establish department goals that align with your company's overall objectives.
Explain both your long-term and short-term objectives so that they understand the implication of each strategic goal.
Tip: Your training should guide them to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals.
Give your manager the tools to provide specific, honest, and effective feedback that encourages a team member's overall development and growth.
Managers should provide feedback in a way that builds employees up and inspires them to do better and be better.
They should also offer specific and actionable steps that empower employees to make the necessary changes. This can be done through one-on-one meetings or during formal performance reviews.
➡️ In need of extra tips and best practices for giving feedback? We have round up 20 best practices for employee feedback: your shortcut to creating an engaging workplace culture.
As workplaces become more diverse and undergo changes, conflicts are likely to arise.
While undesirable, your new manager needs the expertise to manage and resolve conflicts and help the involved parties reach an understanding that eventually strengthens the company.
Unfortunately, not every new manager will know how to do this.
Teach them how to actively listen, clarify details, and show empathy when issues arise because of different perspectives, backgrounds, or ideas. Help them guide other employees to do things for the good of the department and the company.
Employee coaching and retention
Nurturing talent and employee coaching and retention are also crucial parts of new manager training.
When developing your training process, consider how you can:
- Help your new manager identify their employees' individual talents.
- Teach them to coach less experienced employees through challenging tasks.
- Empower them to retain highly talented employees in the long run.
Your company's new manager training should focus both on the manager's performance as much as it should focus on your employees. Your new manager has to learn how to support, improve, and retain them.
➡️ Are there any other courses to be aware of? Check out our extra resource for other 6 leadership training topics for forward-thinking companies.
📝 Sample leadership development agenda
A leadership development plan is similar to your "traditional" employee development plans—but they target different competencies.
Consider the new manager's strengths and weaknesses to identify skill gaps, then create realistic milestones and set time frames for each goal and objective you want to achieve. You also need clear metrics to track progress along their journey to effective leadership.
➡️ Check out our additional resources to learn more about creating leadership development plans for your employees.
❗️Beyond old-fashioned courses: Powerful training formats for new managers
Delivering employee training doesn't always have to be in the form of courses. Yes, they are effective. But why not explore other exciting training formats that are just as good, if not better?
We will explore six different types of training methods for new managers:
- on-the-job training;
- coaching and mentoring;
- people manager roundtables;
- case studies.
On-the-job or hands-on training allows new managers to jump into the practical skills essential to their jobs. While they can begin working immediately, you can also incorporate a manager shadowing component to give them insights into the context and job requirements.
Microlearning is a successful alternative to long-form e-learning courses that allow managers to multitask between assignments and meetings and digest things quickly through bite-sized challenges and reminders as a part of a larger practical framework.
Coaching & Mentoring
Implementing a mentorship program at your company and other training methods helps the new manager develop relationships that make employees feel welcomed and supported. They may have to take some time away from work to train, but it's a sacrifice well worth it in the end.
Role-playing involves a trainee and a facilitator (or trainer) acting out different potential work scenarios. This method is excellent for enabling a new manager to exercise decision-making in potentially tricky situations.
People manager roundtables
As the name suggests, the people manager roundtable creates peer-to-peer learning opportunities where everyone shares best practices and discusses common challenges.
Freeletics, a popular fitness app, used this tactic to help leaders learn from each other and successfully created a growth-centric atmosphere where everyone feels supported in their professional development.
➡️ Learn more about how Freeletics trains their leaders.
Case studies are an excellent training technique to develop your new manager’s analytical and problem-solving skills.
Give your manager real or imagined scenarios that affect common work situations. They can then analyze the case and come up with ideal situations and scenarios independently or in a group.
🖥️ Helpful resources and free courses
When building your new manager training program, try to pick courses that cover the fundamentals that will set them up for success.
These courses can be in the form of in-person workshops, on-demand videos, or virtual remote workshops. Each offers self-paced learning to suit your managers' schedules. Regardless of the format you choose, ensure the course you select covers the critical skills we discussed earlier.
Here's a list of free training courses and resources we highly recommend for new managers:
- Introduction to Management by Helmsley Fraser, a learning and development company.
- Building Your Leadership Skills by HEC Paris via Coursera.
- Achieve More in Less Time Using SMART Goals by Richard Feenstra, an educational psychologist focused on productivity, innovation, and problem-solving, via Udemy.
- Conflict Resolution Skills by Coursera.
- Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health by Harvard via edx.
- Productivity and Time Management: Get More Done by Brian Cervino, Product Marketing Manager at Trello, via Skillshare.
- Fundamentals of Business Leadership™ by Advantexe, a company specializing in business simulations for use in skill development in the areas of Business Acumen, Leadership Development, and Sales Training.
- What Great Leaders Do by Stanford via Alison.
💡After the ramp-up: 3 essential tips for continuous training
The training and support you deliver to first-time managers is a continuous process. You can't stop after they complete their initial training.
We have compiled a list of handy tips to ensure your managers are consistently growing and developing:
Schedule regular check-ins
Don't leave your manager stranded after they complete training. They may be struggling with something and not realize there's an easier way to do it or have difficulty figuring out an answer until you show them how.
Set regular check-ins with your new managers. Think of them as weekly or bi-weekly catch-ups that let you spot and solve managerial problems before it affects workplace productivity.
Encourage feedback from team members
Get feedback from the team your new manager is managing to help the latter improve quickly. This is called upward feedback.
Not only will upward feedback supplement their self-evaluation and help them identify areas they need to work on, but it will also give them the confidence they are doing a good job.
Tip: If you aren't already, consider implementing a 360 feedback system.
You can survey the new manager's team for feedback.
What are they doing well? What do they need to improve?
Answering these questions will give the manager a list of the steps to become even better at what they do.
➡️ Are you in need of extra inspiration? Check out 22 additional 360 feedback questions to evaluate your managers.
Let your manager lead
When you promote an individual to a management role, you may not give them the autonomy they need to build a successful team. This would be highly counterproductive.
Let your manager implement new methods to motivate team members. Let them celebrate large and small wins with the team and give them the resources and budget they ask for. Encourage them to make decisions, and if you aren't sure about something, ask them to explain why they think it'll benefit the team and the company. Give them the power to lead.
Tip: Endorse your new manager's vision by trusting your decision to make them the manager.
➡️ Choose Zavvy to develop your leaders with precision
Managers are critical to your organization's success, and Zavvy understands that.
Use our employee development software to create customized career frameworks and targeted development plans to give your new managers the right guidance.
Our highly effective training programs and nudges are based on modern learning science concepts and trends. We tailor this knowledge to your company ethos and goals and support you in building your future leaders.