One of the most important services HR leaders are called on to provide is resources for new managers. New manager training varies so much based on length of previous management experience or, in the case of employees promoted from internal positions, knowledge of existing company rules, regulations and processes. It can be difficult to develop individual management training based on the resources you have available on your HR team, but there are some areas you can focus on to offer new manager training for internal or external candidates who are new to a supervisory role.
Why New Manager Training Is Important for Your Business Leaders
First, let’s address why new manager training is so important. You’ve likely heard that employees don’t leave companies; they leave their managers. Employee engagement is imperative for retention, so poorly trained managers can have a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement. In other words, a bad manager equals low employee engagement, while a good one equals high engagement. While great employees don’t always make great managers, many qualities of management can be taught.
As HR professionals, we are tasked with educating managers on best practices and company expectations, from the potential consequences of sharing too much with their employees via social media to the ramifications of intentional or unintentional online disclosure of confidential information, performance reviews, hiring and termination documentation, and much more. This raises a lot of questions for any company: When’s the best time to train new managers who aren’t hired internally? How do we know an internal employee is prepared for management? How to we ensure company policies and procedures are followed? And, most important, how do we support new managers as HR leaders?
What Types of Resources & Support Do New Manager Need to Succeed?
Calderon says the best thing to do is to give new managers a few basic resources they can use during the first few months on the job, then wait until they’ve been managing for a couple months before you put them through a formalized management training. Too much time might allow bad habits to form, but training too soon can create overwhelm. Formal manager training at Google usually happens at the three-month milestone. Which leads me to the first tip…
1) Don’t overwhelm new managers. Consider exactly what they will need for their first few months in a management role and give them enough so they can use what they learned immediately on the job. For example, if you hire a manager whose department will be rapidly growing, you’ll want to ensure he or she has access to resources on hiring, compliance, the interview process, and so on. If your new manager will be supervising a large team, educating them on listening and learning, as well as operating as leader on the team with a coaching and mentoring mindset is going to be helpful to their adjustment (and their new team’s adjustment to them).
2) The feedback loop. Much of new manager training is going to focus on feedback, giving and receiving. At Google, new manager training involves multiple sessions on developing emotional intelligence (EQ). One feature of training related to EQ has to do with helping managers know their own triggers so they can take on challenging situations with self-awareness. An example Calderon gave is how uncomfortable it can be to give someone feedback; in order to do that well, managers have to know how to manage themselves and their emotions first.
This area is also where mentorship comes in. Your new managers are going to need mentors, while they’re also building skills to become good mentors to their teams. It’s a good idea to pair new managers with an experienced manager who has a similar background and mindset so your new manager can relate to someone who has been with your company longer. At Google, managers are encouraged to conduct peer coaching, giving each other feedback and helping to improve day-to-day performance.
3) Trust and empathy. A new manager needs to be able to provide guidance and help to their team. This is accomplished with communication methods, whether through regular team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and/or ad-hoc meetings as issues arise. In training, HR should stress the importance of the different methods of communications and educate new managers on the best practices for conducting team meetings. Developing trust with their team should also be a focus of these training sessions, as managers must be able to maintain positive relationships with team members as well as support them to meet team and department goals.
This type of training can be offered via resources, videos, discussion groups, as well as role-playing sessions. Different people have different learning styles, but being able to rehearse and apply what we’ve learned tends to be the training that sticks.
4) Learn how not to micromanage. One of the most common mistakes a newly promoted manager makes is feeling like they have to know what every team member is working on at all times. In a non-supervisory role, they knew all the details about their own work. But a manager must be able to focus on the big picture because it’s not possible to keep track of all the details involved with every project a team is working on. If they try, they become micromanagers, which can create a negative employee experience. This training should help new managers understand not only what their role entails, but also how to change their thinking to consider the bigger picture and team results as they relate to company goals.
5) When they need HR. New managers may not be prepared for the shift in their purpose to one with a broader scope. Your training should focus deeply on identifying and managing employee issues, ranging from performance issues, personality conflicts, burnout, job stress, and even mental health issues. It’s important they understand that HR is always standing by to offer guidance in these tricky areas, including giving them resources to provide to team members.
This area of development also focuses on what your company expects from its managers. How often are they expected to conduct performance reviews? What kinds of performance reviews work best for their teams? What decisions can they make and what requires executive approval? How often does senior management want to be briefed on what projects the manager is overseeing and with how much detail? Your first-time managers should be briefed on all of these topics.
How HR Can Support Managers and Leaders
They should also be clear on what requires HR assistance. Hiring, disciplinary documentation, termination, employee leave, workers’ compensation, and employee complaints (such as harassment or discrimination) require HR input before taking action. New managers should have a strong understanding of the expectations of their role, as well as when to turn to HR for support – and when legal compliance compels it.
Finally, first-time managers are undertaking a huge responsibility. They will need ongoing professional development to help them grow, and these opportunities are going to come from you and your HR team. While you can offer step-by-step guides that covers basic compliance and policies, your new managers have skill sets that vary wildly, so they may need more help improving their “soft” skills, such as negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication.