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How to Develop First-Time Managers


Developing first-time managers is top-of-mind for many talent leaders. One survey found that 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others and almost 60% said they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role. Stepping off on the right foot is really important for first-time managers. In this article, we give 3 tips on how to develop your first-time managers.

1) Provide the right training and tools

New managers cannot solely rely on the same skills that got them promoted. Management is a different skill, and there are many challenges. Remember that you want to develop leaders, not just bosses. There should be an emphasis on developing soft skills, and training (webinars, workshops, etc) tailored to the challenges of first-level management is important. Below, we list some topics that you should cover with your first time management:

In addition to training, managers need to have the right tools to manage their employees. For example, how will they track their direct reports’ objectives? How are these objectives measured? How is feedback received, requested, and documented? HR needs to ensure that managers understand and use these tools.

2) Feedback, feedback, feedback

Developing new management means equipping these employees with a clear picture of their current leadership style, strengths, and weaknesses. This can be done through regular feedback check-ins. If you are still conducting once-a-year reviews, consider incorporating monthly check-ins to truly help develop and motivate your middle managers.

HR should also consider implementing 360 feedback. There is a lot of power in upward feedback and peer feedback; both increase a manager’s self-awareness and can raise any flags if most direct reports are rating their manager poorly. Implementing 360 feedback should also be more than once-a-year. If direct reports believe that their managers are not providing clear instructions, enough feedback, or developmental opportunities, HR should be made aware of this problem as soon as possible. Managers should be getting feedback continuously from their direct reports to improve performance, but also increase the productivity of their employees. Feel free to check out these 360 feedback questions.

For tips on setting managers up for success to give constructive feedback, check out our webinar recording with LifeLabs Learning

3) Coaching and mentorship

Mentorship and coaching for first-time managers should be encouraged. Pairing a manager with executives, other managers, or outside coaches can provide immense support for first-time managers. Having an external coach/mentor that is different than the direct manager of the first-level manager can help provide a sense of safety as well as different perspective than the direct manager.

Another great coaching tool that HR can set up is peer learning networks. Creating learning networks for first-time managers can create opportunities to share stories of success or failure, talk about their learnings, and be a support system for one another. This can also help build camaraderie across departments.

Have any questions? Let us know!

If you are looking for a feedback tool, feel free to reach out! Pavestep is an intuitive tool that first-time managers love! If you are looking for effective feedback courses, Pavestep offers interactive workshops on effective feedback. Feel free to reach out and ask us about our interactive & fun workshops.

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