When a new manager is promoted, a more senior manger is generally tasked with their training. But even an experienced manager might not know how to prepare a new manager for their role. Managing or training employees is one thing… but when showing a new manager the ropes, there are still common training pitfalls. To avoid getting stuck, you need to know exactly what those pitfalls are.
#1. Getting Stuck in the Job Description
A manager’s basic responsibilities are usually set in stone. A new middle manager knows that their job is to ensure the success of their team. But how that is achieved is still a very grey area.
Too many organizations never color in that gray area—they believe that management skills can only be learned in “the school of hard knocks,” which essentially leaves the development of management skills to chance and experience. As a result, new middle managers will tend towards the extremes: they either become micromanagers, or they try too hard to befriend their subordinates.
Training should be more than just reviewing the job description and details of reporting, etc. It should give new managers people skills that they will need to manage effectively.
#2. Getting Stuck in the Past
It’s said that past performance is the best indicator of future success. That’s why many new managers turn to existing reports and performance reviews to “get a handle” on their team. They will defer to these notes (and even verbal opinions), forming a view of their team and its members before they even begin managing them.
But things change as leadership dynamics change, and past episodes can too easily bias relationships from the get-go. Senior leadership should encourage middle managers to get to know their teams, in their own way. Middle managers should assess the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of each team member first-hand. And while senior leaders should pass along best practices, they should also encourage middle managers to find their own style of management.
#3. Getting Stuck in Your Silo
Obviously, if your organization has specialized departments, your middle managers will want to receive training from the more senior leadership within that department. But while it’s important for the new manager to learn the standards of their specific department, they should also be encouraged to learn from employees and managers outside of their department.
The best managers are ones that know how to marshal resources, pool ideas, and motivate people—and not just resources, ideas, and people within their own department. When training middle managers, senior managers should encourage them to learn from other managers in other departments as well… or better yet, arrange for some of their training time to come from other departments.
BONUS #4. Getting Stuck in… Training?
Training does not, and should not, end at the close of some arbitrary training period. And it does not always need to be the kind of intensive, 1-on-1 training that many organizations assume.
On-going training is fast becoming the norm, and it is taking all sorts of forms: online, on-demand, interactive, mixed-learning, and more. Providing such on-going training, during and beyond the initial training period, can really help your managers develop the skills they need to succeed in their new role.