The Ultimate Guide to New Manager Training
“How do you design and launch a great New Manager Training Program, without spending a lot of time or money? What makes great manager training?”
Those are the questions I’ve asked dozens of Directors of Leadership Development as part of my series on Forbes. (See case studies with Groupon, Deltek, NextGen Healthcare, Ping Identity, Novartis, LA Public Library).
The secret is that great manager training includes three things:
- Increased self-awareness with a personality assessment (e.g., DISC, Five Factor Model, MBTI, etc.).
- Include the five core competencies required to build high-performing teams: Effective Feedback, Delegation, One-on-One Meetings, GROW Coaching, Interviewing.
- Deliver the training “in the flow of work”, in bite-sized pieces.
Why Bother Training New Managers?
You want to make sure all of your managers are successful, right? After all, managers have a huge impact on their entire team.
A bad manager could cause a whole host of problems to start in your company, including unproductive staff. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement, which could be the reasoning behind why just a third of employees in the U.S. are engaged.
There’s more to it, though.
Low productivity levels, a lack of engagement, and unhappiness at work could cause health issues—something American companies spend $360 billion treating each year as a result of bad managers.
Ever heard the phrase, “people join a company, but they leave a boss?”
It’s true. A study found half of all employees admit to leaving their companies because of a bad boss, which could result in high (and unnecessary) staff turnover; not to mention the loss of high-quality talent that could be more expensive to replace.
11 Key Skills a New Manager Should Conquer
Now you know the importance of new manager training, it’s time to build a program that’ll teach them how to be a fantastic role model in your workplace.
But what skills need to be built through their training program?
Here are five essential skills your new manager training curriculum needs to work on to set them (and your business!) up for success:
1. Making the Switch from Individual Contributor to First-Time Manager
It’s easy to work independently as a member of a team. You’re in control of the work you complete, not others, and it’s not your job to hound or motivate other people to meet their own deadlines. In fact, you were probably rewarded or even promoted because you were so productive as an individual contributor.
That’s not the job of a leader—which is why it’s so difficult to go from individual contributor to first-time manager.
You’ll need to teach your new managers how to deal with this change. They’ll need to learn how to get results through others, and paradoxically why they don’t want to quickly answer questions and solve problems.
This is perhaps the most difficult transition for people to make, yet with the proper framework, awareness, and training, it can be done.
2. How To Give Effective Feedback
Employees thrive on feedback. It’s the best way to provide actionable advice that’ll help them improve in their job, especially when 92% of employees believe redirective feedback improves performance. In fact, not giving feedback will actually disengage team members as they feel that they don’t matter, or they are not advancing in their skillset and career.
But there’s a difference between just criticizing someone and giving effective feedback. Instead of shying away from giving constructive criticism, or unknowingly de-motivating staff with the negative wording of their suggestions, educate your first-time managers on the basics of delivering actionable, effective, and meaningful feedback. They need to learn when and where to give the feedback and an effective 3-part strategy for making the feedback a positive experience for all involved.
Their entire team, and your organization, will benefit!
3. How To Delegate Effectively
“Why should I delegate when it’s so much easier to do it myself?” is a common question that many first-time managers might ask. Granted, they do have a point. We all want to simplify our to-do list, right?
And in fact, it often is faster and easier for the manager to just do it. After all, in most cases, they have more experience or talent than their direct reports.
But new managers need to realize that delegating isn’t just to save themselves time; delegating develops their team members. It increases the future capacity of the entire team.
And effective delegation is different than just dumping assignments on people. New managers need to learn how to prepare the task, assign it to the right person, do appropriate check-ins, and conduct a final evaluation.
As a result of delegation, the relationship between both can develop since trust is being built. That’s something you’ll need to focus on, considering just 20% of the workforce trust their management team.
4. One-on-One Meetings
Somewhere along the road, meetings have gained a reputation for being a huge waste of time.
While you don’t want to be the type of company having meetings about meetings, first-time managers need to understand the power of weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with each team member.
One-on-ones or O3s have the dual benefit of engaging the team member and increasing work results. As the O3 is considered the direct report's meeting, communication scores increase, and feelings that the manager cares about them as an individual skyrocket.
The meeting is also great for alignment. Has the team member been working on the wrong thing? Have they been delivered the wrong information? Are they waiting for a co-worker to complete something, but a mismatch in communication means the project is stalled for no reason?
All these questions, plus many other common team problems, can be highlighted—and more importantly, resolved—with productive one-on-one meetings.
Old school management was about setting expectations and measurable objectives and making sure employees were meeting or exceeding them. Falling short was often handled with stern warnings and “progressive discipline.”
Today, managers need to move from performance management to performance development. Managers need to be continuously coaching their team members to higher and higher levels of performance. This means new managers need to master a new skill set: coaching. How can they use goals, accountability, and questioning to elicit the performance they need while engaging their team members in a positive relationship?
Coaching can come in a variety of forms. But whether they’re helping staff with their own professional development or career growth (something 87% of millennials say is very important) or addressing a more acute issue, it’s critical all new leaders work on this skill.
Open to Further New Manager Training? Develop These Other 6 Skills
We all know there’s more that goes into a managerial role than just five skills.
Although each five are extremely important (and could make or break the success of your first-time manager), you could also consider building these six management skills into your onboarding process:
- Excellent communication: Deadlines, budgets, and to-dos keep a team in sync, but you can’t achieve perfect harmony if your new managers can’t communicate effectively. Productivity improves by up to 25% in organizations with connected and informed employees, which is why your new managers need to learn how to listen, explain things clearly, and make sure their team understands what they’re saying.
- Team building: “Teamwork makes the dreamwork,” right? It’s true: Companies and organizations that communicate effectively are 4.5x more likely to retain the best employees. Your manager’s department won’t meet deadlines (or do the work) if they don’t work together. They need to learn what motivates their team and understand how to foster a community of teamwork.
- Reflective and problem-solving skills: Has something gone wrong? Whether it’s a mismatch in expectations or an individual’s fault, managers should be able to spot the problem by reflecting on it and find a way to prevent it from happening again.
- Resilience: All leaders should be role models for their team, but that can’t be achieved if your new managers aren’t resilient. In the words of Amy Modglin, “the true grit of a leader is not how they perform during the good times but rather how they display emotional strength, courage, and professionalism during the most trying times.”
- Adaptability: It’s not uncommon for things to go against plan (It’s why plan B is so popular!). But, if that happens, your new managers should know how to adapt. This is something 91% of HR directors predicted would be a major recruitment goal in the future.
- Restorative practice: Have two team members fallen out, or suffering with a bunch of employees that aren’t listening to their manager? Your new managers should learn restorative practice and understand how to resolve conflicts in the workplace—something that causes 385 million working hours to be lost every year.
What Should My New Manager Training Program Include?
Now you know the skills a new manager should learn, but what should the new manager curriculum look like—what delivery options should it have—to be effective?
Here’s what your onboarding process for first-time managers should include:
1. Personality Assessments
Leadership actually begins with self-awareness. All of the critical skills are made effective with a proper understanding of individual differences, communication styles, and how to modulate inappropriate behavior. Before you begin to offer courses for your new managers, it’s wise to make them more self-aware and understand themselves.
This can be done through personality tests such as:
The results of your new managers’ personality assessments could also give you a better indication of the type of manager they’ll be and give them a roadmap for further self-development.
2. Strengths Profiles
Personality is an effective starting point, but it should be built upon with a good strengths profile.
These psychological assessments will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your managers, giving you insights into managing them, and giving them insights into how to work in a style that will give them the most results and the most energy.
You could use strengths profile tests such as:
…to do this, and help your first-time managers be one of the people who’re 6 times more likely to be engaged at work after understanding their strengths!
3. New Manager Curriculum Courses
When you’re building your onboarding program for first-time managers, it’s important to pick courses that cover the fundamentals that’ll set them up for success.
New manager courses could come in the form of in-person workshops, virtual remote workshops, or on-demand videos for self-paced learning. But regardless of the format you choose, you’ll need to make sure they cover everything a first-time manager needs to learn.
That includes the five key skills we discussed earlier:
- Making the switch from individual contributor to first-time manager
- Effective feedback
- One-on-one meetings
So, are there any pre-built courses you can refer staff to when they’re completing your new manager training program?
Here are five companies that offer courses for first-time managers:
- LEADx – Leadership Development for the Modern Workforce: Built to be the ultimate online resource for new managers, this online academy houses lessons on everything a new manager should know—from management essentials to more advanced courses on leadership, communication, and productivity. LEADx is the only new manager program that is powered by IBM Watson artificial intelligence to offer a truly hyper-personalized experience.
- Helmsley Fraser: This live in-person program takes two days to complete, and provides new managers with real-life insights on what it’s like to be a manager, along with practical examples of issues they may be dealing with in their role.
- BPP Professional Development: Another two-day workshop, this new manager training program is designed to build the confidence of your new hires, and guide them towards being motivating, empowering leaders.
- Ken Blanchard: Built for staff considering the transition into management, or first-time managers without much experience, this workshop covers goal setting, praising, redirecting, and wrapping up.
- Advantexe: Using a unique, “simulation-centric” program, this training course gives managers the chance to react to real-life problems they might face in the workplace. They’ll receive personalized feedback on the way they react to events, make decisions and resolve issues.
How Do Your New Managers Learn Most Effectively?
Along with the curriculum you’ll need to build for a first-time manager, you’ll also need to put some thought into the way you deliver it. There are seven main learning styles most adult learners rely on.
But with the average age of the first-time manager being 30, most new managers today are in the millennial generation—a group of people who have wildly different learning styles, preferences, and demands than other generations.
In fact, the Global Leadership Forecast recently discovered these millennial managers loathe the long, traditional PowerPoint-driven lectures. They specifically ask that any training they’re receiving be:
Could that be the reason why new mobile-first and online formats of content are becoming increasingly popular?
Podcasts, short on-demand webinars, book summaries, and even AI-powered chatbots are revolutionizing the online education world, which is why you should investigate whether emerging forms of training should form part of your new manager leadership training.
The Importance of Ongoing Coaching
Did you know that 87% of companies admit to not doing an excellent job at developing leaders at all levels? The training and support you’re delivering to first-time managers shouldn’t stop when they’ve completed their training.
You need to coach your leaders—even if they’ve passed their first few months of management with flying colors.
Here’s how to coach your first-time managers, and make sure they’re leading your team effectively in the months (or years) that pass their initial training.
1. Pick the Right Coach
There’s no use in assigning a coach to your first-time manager if they don’t get along and choose not to confide in them.
The aim of coaching is to support and develop them into an asset to your company, right? That’s tricky—and almost impossible—if there’s a poor relationship between your new manager and their mentor.
So, focus on picking the right coach for your first-time manager.
Ideally, it should be someone with experience managing a similar team. For example: A senior marketing manager could be the perfect coach for a new social media manager since they have experience within that field.
2. Set Regular Check-ins
The “sink or swim” method shouldn’t be your motto throughout the first few months of your new managers’ role. Why? Because your new managers might be struggling with something and not realize there’s an easier way to do it until their mentor shows them.
However, setting regular check-ins can prevent this from causing problems in your workplace. By setting weekly or bi-weekly (but no longer than monthly) catch-ups, you can spot and solve them before their entire team suffers.
3. Get Feedback from Their Team
It’s hard to self-evaluate. Even if your first-time managers know what they need to work on, they might not be as good at confidently saying the things they’re proud of.
However, supporting their sessions with feedback from the team they’re managing can help them quickly improve—and give them confidence they’re doing a good job!
That’s why you should regularly ask the mentor you’ve chosen to survey the new manager’s team for feedback. What are they doing well? What can they improve on? The answers to these questions could give them a confidence boost, while also creating a list of next steps to make them even better.
How to Measure Your New Managers’ Success
Your new manager and their mentor have had weekly meetings for the past six months. But, you might still be questioning: Are there any other methods I can use to determine how successful my new managers are?
The short answer is yes.
Here are two types of surveys you can use to get a broader take on the performance of your first-time manager:
Employee Engagement Survey
After your managers have at least 6-12 months of experience, you should establish a quantitative measure of their performance.
One reliable measure is to include them in your employee engagement surveys. These feedback forms help you to analyze how engaged your entire workforce is, their happiness at work and discover how effective their managers actually are.
But, don’t keep the results of your employee engagement surveys private.
Once your staff has filled in this survey, give your first-time manager their own score. That way, they’ll be able to see their performance, and how it stacks up to other managers.
You could also factor in 360 surveys as a way to measure the success of your new managers.
Robust multi-rater 360 surveys gather feedback from the manager’s team members themselves—giving individual managers personalized feedback on their work.
A 360 survey typically includes feedback on:
- Overall team satisfaction
- Manager effectiveness
- Performance against a variety of competencies
Affordable Manager Training That Works
Effective manager training, delivered in a way that leaders actually enjoy using it, is the key to higher employee engagement and productivity, and less conflict and turnover. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
At LEADx, we are legendary for turning millennial managers into legacy leaders, and for creating great places to work. Request a demo and see how we can help.