How to Develop New People Leaders

How to Develop New People Leaders
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Promotion to Management and How to Develop New People Leaders
While being promoted to a management role is exciting, many first time people leaders are dismayed by how difficult it can be to lead, manage, and coach teams of people with different roles, skills, attitudes, and desires.  Unfortunately, most companies do not invest the time to develop new people leaders so that they are set up for success.

Backed by data from our leadership simulation assessments, a recent management study by the Corporate Executive Board found that:

  • Only 25% of employees believe new people managers get help transitioning into their first people manager role
  • 85% of new managers receive no formal management training prior to becoming a new manager
  • And, not surprisingly, almost two-thirds of new managers underperform in their first year in their new people manager job

How to Increase the Success of New Managers
First time managers are faced with two major but common challenges: they lack the skills to effectively lead others and struggle with the transition from being peer to boss.  Based upon data from our new manager training, there are three main ways to better develop new people leaders:

  1. Be Upfront about the Challenges as well as the Rewards of Management
    The benefits of effective management are well-known: the raise in status and salary, and the reward of leading a team toward the achievement of a common goal. But the challenges need to be clarified as well.

    Learning how to engage employees, motivate employees, and coach employees others takes special skill. It requires being a strong communicator, decision maker, and problem solver — often in the face of uncertainty and conflict.

    Ensure that potential new managers have the desire and skills to shift their mindset from contributing as an individual to working with and through others. Above all, commit to supporting them along the learning curve with constructive feedback and encouragement.
  2. Provide the Right Management Development Opportunities
    Standard off-the-shelf management training programs do not work. Management fundamentals like setting expectations, communicating, being open-minded, managing conflict, and being reflective are an important starting point.

    However, be sure that any new manager training highlights the critical few management situations with respect to your unique strategy and culture that make the difference between an average and an extraordinary manager at your company.

    Assess your people managers and then customize the content and approach to each new manager’s specific development needs using an action learning leadership approach whenever possible.
  3. Support Continuous Learning
    Effective training is not an event; it is a behavior change initiative. Expect and encourage ongoing learning and continuous improvement for all managers. Effective people leaders need goal setting, follow-up coaching, online resources, and accountability partners just as their direct reports do.

    Consider organizing a forum for new managers where common challenges and best practices are shared. This can be an important networking opportunity for those who want to move even higher on the management ladder.

The Bottom Line
Have you set your first-level managers up for success? Developing new people leaders requires your time, effort, and commitment.

To learn more about how to better develop new people leaders, download New Leader Mistakes: 5 Traps to Avoid

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