New Manager Training: Coaching & Difficult Conversations

A study by reports that a whopping 58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training after being promoted. For companies, this can lead to a high turnover on teams whose managers feel unprepared to lead them, low retention rates for new managers who are susceptible to burnout, and a loss in overall productivity.

New Manager Training: Coaching & Difficult Conversations


Why New Manager Training?

Let’s address why new manager training is necessary. You’ve likely heard that employees don’t leave companies; they leave their managers. While career development and growth opportunities can lead to increased retention, team members who want to grow their careers may accept promotions before they are prepared to take on the responsibility of managing a team. Without support and training, becoming a new manager can be a daunting task. 

As companies grow organically, team members gain more experience and are perceived as natural leaders when a supervisory position is open. However, without training and support from their managers and HR, it can take much longer for a new manager to adapt to leading a team. Along with taking on the responsibilities of motivating a team, offering feedback, conducting performance reviews, interviewing new candidates, and reporting to their own manager, new managers are also responsible for the quality of the work produced by their teams.

The first time new managers have to have a difficult conversation with a team member, whether it’s about quality of work or showing up on time, it can be uncomfortable. Depending on the size of the organization and the size of the team reporting to the new manager, these conversations can be daily occurrences. 

Coaching and Difficult Conversations

As a new manager, there are times that you are going to have tough conversations with your team members. It’s a necessary part of the job. If you can change your perception of what a new manager is “supposed to” be, it can take the pressure off. Rather than seeing your new role as manager and team members as direct reports, you can see yourself as managing a function – not people – but people are part of that function. Your job as manager of the function is to support your team, mentor, and coach team members to grow in their own roles. And yes, having difficult conversations is part of coaching and mentoring.

Here are some tips to guide you through those difficult conversations.

– Assess the situation at hand and decide whether it requires immediate action or not.

– Be sensitive (choose a private place to have personal conversations).

– Taking the group approach (have a group meeting so that no one feels singled out). 

– Be helpful (dig deeper to establish the cause of the behavior).

Good managers are excellent communicators; therefore, management training should include things like:

– Communication

– Continuous performance management

– Conflict resolution

– Leadership

– Scenario planning

Whether you are building out a new team or just getting started, you need access to new resources, coaching, and support. Workology’s 12-week New Manager Training program is a hybrid of coaching and courses. It includes virtual one-on-one and learning sessions along with the support of other new managers who are enrolled in the course. Learn more at

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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