Now that you’ve promoted a new manager, you can relax knowing they will take charge of the department and let you get back to big-picture strategizing for your small business, right? Not necessarily. New managers, even if they excelled at their previous jobs, need guidance and training.
Once the congratulations are finished, the real work for managers begins. Without proper training, those managers are being set up for failure. So it’s not surprising that a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey found that 84 percent of U.S. workers say poorly-trained managers create unnecessary work and stress.
Start With the Basics
If you want your new manager to succeed, they can’t operate in the dark. They must be prepared when employees ask questions or seek general guidance about company policies and procedures.
Support your new manager by making sure they are well-informed regarding the following:
- HR policies: Ensure new managers are familiar with the workplace policies they need to enforce. Provide an employee handbook and other reference materials to help answer employees’ questions.
- Management systems: Teach the new manager your company’s procedures for handling performance reviews, disciplinary issues, onboarding new employees, etc.
- Technical systems: While most new managers are not co-trained as IT experts, they should have at least a cursory understanding of your tech systems, how they work, and whom to call in case something goes wrong.
- The “Big Picture”: Managers must understand how their department fits into the overall functions of the company, each department’s functions and goals, and the company’s overall objectives. Share information that helps the new manager grasp the big picture.
And while all employees should know your company’s mission, it is especially important for new managers to know it, be able to explain it and live it.
- Problem-solving: What’s the chain of command at your business? How much latitude are you giving the manager to solve problems? Will there be an interim period where they need to run issues by you until you know they’re equipped to handle them independently? It’s critical that you and your managers communicate often and honestly.
- Quality control: A manager should be well-informed of quality control processes and make sure the staff follows established guidelines.
- Time management: Because there are frequent interruptions, questions that need addressing and meetings to attend, time management challenges are different for managers than non-managers. Suggest ways the new manager can manage time effectively in the new role and ensure they have the right tools and training.
The People Factor
Nearly six in 10 U.S. workers (57 percent) believe the managers in their workplace could benefit from training on how to be better people managers, according to SHRM’s report The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture. SHRM’s president and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., believes “There is no relationship in the workplace more powerful than the one between managers and employees.”
Most managers' primary responsibility should be managing people, not processes. Indeed, their ability to motivate and inspire a team is crucial to the company’s success. But unfortunately, not all new managers have the people skills you might think they do and that you need to run your business smoothly.
What you consider outspoken honesty, some employees may interpret as abrasive and condescending. Or, although you know your manager is a planner and needs time to process new information, employees might think the manager isn’t listening or taking them seriously.
Here are some tips for training your new manager on how to deal with people:
- Communication skills: Good communication is essential up and down the management chain. Emphasize the importance of listening to employees, considering their ideas and suggestions, and providing feedback regularly. Communicate your expectations to the new manager to model how they should communicate with their staff.
- Personality and work styles: Managers must motivate different types of people. Discuss what you know about each employee with the manager, their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and what their skill sets and goals are.
Understanding what makes each individual tick helps the new manager delegate more effectively.
- Conflict resolution: Most people don’t enjoy conflict, so resolving it is a common challenge for new managers. Suggest conflict resolution strategies that have worked for you in various situations. Let new managers know they can always come to you for help if needed.
- Empathy: Empathetic leaders know that the more employees feel their managers care and understand them, the more engaged the employee becomes. Empathy builds trust between managers and workers, improving attitudes and productivity.
How You Can Help
You may have delegated some of your responsibilities to your new manager, but that doesn’t mean you can be hands-off. Just as your new manager’s responsibility is to guide their team, yours is to train and guide your new managers to carry out your vision.
The following practices will help you groom your managers for success:
- Mentoring: All new managers will benefit from mentoring, so let them know your door is always open for questions and feedback. If there are more senior managers in place at your company, it’s a good idea to have them mentor the new ones.
- Monitoring: Don’t expect a new manager to become a seasoned pro overnight. Meet with them regularly to monitor the progress made toward company goals and the individual goals you’ve set for them. You need to offer them honest feedback and encourage them to be truthful with you.
- Training courses: There are numerous offline and online training courses new managers can take to learn organizational and people skills. They may have their own suggestions. You should check with other business owners or contact your industry association to see what they provide. Udemy and SkillPath offer numerous online manager training courses. The American Management Association provides online and in-person training. Check for classes at your local college and SCORE Workshops in your area.
Learning to be a good manager takes time. But experience is often the best teacher, so give your new managers the latitude and time to learn. And make sure your staff knows you support the manager on their new journey.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.