How To Create First-Time Manager Training For Successful Leaders

Marion was a top player at her company, so naturally, when the need came up, she was promoted to team manager. She had never been in such a position before. It was an exciting opportunity for her to share her valuable knowledge and help the company grow even more. But, soon, she realized that things were not going as smooth as he had expected.

For example, one of her team members asked for a week off but she didn’t catch the request and ended up not approving it. Another colleague was bitter about her promotion and openly questioned her leadership skills. Marion started feeling frustrated, and on top of that, she couldn’t find a balance as she had to attend countless meetings every day. She felt unreachable and that was also what her teammates thought.

Marion had a lot to offer to her company, but she lacked the necessary skills to handle her new role. Luckily, this is something that can be learned. As long as her company has first-time manager training in place.

This is why you should invest in planning the right training for new managers at your business, too.

The challenges new managers face

Getting a managerial position for the first time is rewarding and exciting. But it comes with challenges. So, before setting up a first-time manager training session, you need to know what those challenges are.

Getting into the leader mindset

The majority of first-time managers are employees who have been top performers for quite some time. This doesn’t mean that they automatically possess exceptional leadership skills. They can get into their new role full of confidence, but sooner or later they realize their responsibilities are different.

They’re no longer individual contributors. Instead, they have to set and track goals for their team, act as role models, and sometimes have difficult conversations. All this can get overwhelming. This is why leadership training is so important.

Gerrid Smith, the Director of E-commerce at Joy Organics says:

“As a manager, your performance is determined by how well you support others in completing their tasks.

Your success rests more on your ability to create an environment in which others can do their jobs than on your own ability to perform those obligations,” Gerrid adds. This is a skill that a new manager should work on before jumping into their new position.

Davis Nguyen, founder of My Consulting Offer, offers insights on getting into the leadership mindset in the following video:

Managing former coworkers

One day you’re part of a team, and the next day you are their leader. How are you going to start managing employees who were once your peers?

Maintaining the right balance between remaining a colleague and setting clear authority boundaries can be daunting. Getting used to the new dynamics takes time, but it’s important for first-time managers to stay true to themselves, set rules, and encourage open communication with their former coworkers.

Also, learning how to delegate, and not end up doing everything yourself is a skill that new managers should develop. Many first-time managers avoid giving tasks to their subordinates to look more likable, or because they’re not used to giving direction. But managing a team can be learned, and new managers will earn more respect if they put together a seamless workflow for everyone.

Dr. Sukhwant Bal is an experienced Business Psychologist with over 30 years of experience developing leaders at every level. In this video, he shares valuable tips on how first-time managers should approach leading a team:

Supporting the team

Being able to identify and bridge skills gaps is a trait every successful leader should have. In the case of first-time managers, they must be able to understand which skills are not properly developed and invest in boosting them.

This is the so-called growth mindset they should nurture. Where’s the catch, though? Managers are usually top players in their team, so they know how to get the job done. But what about their soft skills? This is where most of the gaps are.

Great managers should be able to support their team beyond day-to-day tasks, too. It’s necessary to recognize any skills gaps that may come up in the team, give feedback, and manage different personalities and needs. The solution is to focus on soft skills training, which we’ll be analyzing later.

Sarah Jameson, Marketing Director of Green Building Elements believes that:

“More often than not, managers find it difficult to adjust to a new role because they lack people skills.”

And she adds: “The work does not stop when goals are met—you would have to give constant feedback to employees to ensure their growth in the company. Some feedback will be difficult to relay to your team and dedicated training is needed for managers to be able to navigate through different personalities.

Learning how to give the right feedback should be a top priority according to Ioanna Proestaki, Senior People Ops at Epignosis. In this video, she explains how providing constructive feedback can help support the team and make first-time managers competent leaders:

What should a first-time manager training program include?

One thing’s for sure. You can’t just let new managers dive into their new duties without the right direction. This is why first-time manager training programs have to be carefully planned and implemented. You should also make sure to address all necessary skills.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is that first-time managers need time to catch up with a new role. The lessons and materials are best introduced gradually—otherwise, you risk overwhelming the manager, which sends a ripple effect across the organization”, Ruben Gamez, the CEO and founder of SignWell states.

Let’s delve into which topics your first-time management training should include.

1. How to create an inclusive workforce

Employees need to be heard and feel like their opinions matter. First-time managers should know how to encourage open communication, constructive feedback, and equal collaboration between the members of their team.

They should empower their employees and recognize their talent. This way, they can build trust, drive high performance, and, overall, contribute to a healthy and inclusive workplace.

2. How to build a strong team

Managing a team doesn’t mean managing the same people at all times. Sometimes managers need to bring new people on board. Other times, they need to replace people who leave. And, in some cases, they might have to deal with low performers or make tough decisions. A new manager training course should cover all these scenarios.

Discussions like dismissing employees are never easy, but first-time managers must be prepared to have a professional approach without losing their people skills. At the same time, they should learn how to make good hiring decisions.

Andrei Kurtuy, co-founder & CCO at Novoresume says “That’s why we always include hiring and firing in our first-time manager training. It’s important for new managers to understand how to hire people who will be good fits for their teams, and how to fire someone who isn’t working out.”

This is some useful information your employees can learn if you invest in training new managers.

3. How to deal with conflict

It’s perfectly normal if conflicts or disagreements occur in the workplace. As long as they don’t disrupt productivity or end up creating a toxic work environment.

Training a manager is key to learning how to resolve conflict. The solutions provided with the help of a skilled manager in case of conflict can be used to the team’s advantage, as an opportunity to form stronger bonds. This skill can be innate for some people, but you shouldn’t count on that. Proper training will ensure your first-time managers will be able to put out any fires that might arise.

4. How to spot and nurture talent

Great managers support their people and assist them in cultivating their skills. This is why your first-time management training should help them spot the team’s top talent, coach employees to achieve their goals, and retain team members.

Ava Martin, founder of Quality Water Lab, says “One of the most important skills first-time managers should develop is nurturing talent. You need to identify the gifts and talents of different employees and train them to polish these skills to become better and more well-rounded professionals. You also have to coach less experienced employees and help them get through work-related difficulties.”

Focus on training new managers on how to be great coaches and mentors for their teams, and the process of spotting and nurturing talent will become a piece of cake for first-time managers.

5. Which are the different types of leadership

First-time managers have zero experience in a leadership role. This is why they might need some extra clarity concerning the different leadership styles.

During this part of the leadership training, new managers will discover all their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and then as a result overcome any difficulties they may face in their new journey.

6. How to succeed in project management

Besides leadership skills, project management skills are also necessary for managers. Remember, your first-time managers might have excelled at their positions for long, but this doesn’t mean they’re capable of streamlining tasks of other employees, deadlines, and instructions. This is what project management training entails.

Give new managers the opportunity to learn deeply how to strategically plan projects so that expectations are met.

“We include project management, as first-time managers need to know how to plan work that spans several people. How to break projects down into tasks that can be divided among team members, how to set reasonable deadlines, and how to communicate instructions and expectations.” as Davis Nguyen, founder of My Consulting Offer says.

7. How to develop soft skills

When a person is involved in management, it goes without saying that they need to have strong people skills. These are also known as soft skills and should be included in your first-time manager training. Your checklist for training a manager to develop their soft skills should go as follows:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Time management
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Active listening
  • Competent decision-making
  • Adaptability
  • Mental agility
  • Collaboration

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5 ways to properly deliver first-time manager training programs

To build effective training for first-time managers, you shouldn’t only focus on what topics you’ll cover, but also on how you’ll deliver that training. Just like any other employee training development, training for new managers has to be carefully planned and implemented in order to bring successful results.

Let’s see how you can ace the development of your new manager training.

1. Set clear objectives

The first step is to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve through this first-time manager training. For example how to deal with conflict, how to manage tasks, or simply how to be a leader. Then, you should always measure the results, Test new managers on the content, and provide feedback.

2. Provide interactive content

Dull, sterile information doesn’t help the learning process. Countless seminars and ILT sessions that miss the engagement mark will not bring the results you crave to your first-time management training program.

Make sure your training includes visual and interactive content to help the information stick. For example, if you want to train new managers on how to handle conflict, give them a realistic scenario and ask how they’d approach it. Then, discuss their answers and share best practices

3. Offer online training

Many employees are working remotely. In this case, online courses for first-time managers are useful. You can always try a blended learning approach to accommodate both those who work from the office and those who work from home.

“As we have a hybrid workforce, we prefer online courses as they are available 24/7 anywhere there is an internet connection. This means that our remote workers and our workers on flexible schedules can access the training at their convenience. Another advantage is that the online learning materials are always accessible to be referred to when needed.” as Dean Kaplan, CEO of The Kaplan Group, says.


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4. Be proactive and make training gradual

Don’t overwhelm your new managers with tons of new information they must process and implement fast. It’s better to introduce them to the training material step by step, monitor their progress, and check whether it has been properly digested.

Zoë Morris, president at Frank Recruitment Group, believes “One aspect that’s often overlooked is how you equip a person with the skills in advance of their progression. It can be quite easy to promote someone, then overwhelm them due to a lack of experience in whatever their role now entails.”

5. Bring workshops and technical training to the table

Workshops are always a great way to let first-time managers get a more practical idea of what their new role entails. New managers can try first-hand the skills they have acquired from theory, make mistakes, and learn from them in a safe training environment.

Technical training is also essential so that your new managers are fully prepared on how to use the software needed to collect data, measure the performance of their team, assign tasks, and more. You can’t just expect them to have mastered all tools from day 1.

And they managed happily ever after

Being a top performer and a competent manager are two different things. Someone can’t switch roles in a day. With targeted training, first-time managers can make the difference your company needs to reach success. A strong leadership training program can do wonders. If you skip this step, you’re bound to experience drawbacks, even if you’re super confident about your new managers.

Do you remember Marion?

After she received proper training for first-time managers, she managed to become the perfect fit for this position. She doesn’t feel overwhelmed anymore, she never misses a request, functions as a role model and leader for her team, has earned the trust and respect of her team, and last but not least, brings scalable results to her company. And all of this, with no stress or questioning of her own capabilities.

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