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Creating Successful New Managers

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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Have you been asked to develop training for new managers and are wondering where to begin? Do you have a training program for new managers and are interested in refreshing it? Would you like to explore options for training new managers in your organization? If you answered yes to any of these questions or are interested in reading about examples of training programs created for new managers, then look no further; your solutions are written below.

When you think of a new manager, you may picture a manager you have had in the past. How did this person behave? For example, perhaps they listened well, remained flexible, and asked questions rather than jumped to conclusions. Think about how these behaviors link to positive characteristics that support their success as a manager. When we look at good manager characteristics, we are examining the ability, skill, knowledge, and motivation needed for success on the job. These qualities should serve as the foundation for new manager training.

How will you know what your organization needs from your new managers? The needs analysis is the beginning point in the development of a plan to grow the skills and behaviors of new managers. It outlines the strengths and challenges that your organization wants to improve upon. Once complete, it should provide the basis for a comprehensive plan to improve performance.

In a rapid needs analysis, we start with a clear vision of the questions we want answered and then seek information to answer these questions. Categories of questions in a rapid needs analysis include:

  • business goals—questions related to what initiated the request for training, the expected outcomes, and business realities that influence the business goals
  • the current situation—questions related to human resources performance data, job analysis of the training participants, and organizational metrics
  • perceived needs—questions related to what stakeholders think is needed from the training and then comparing perceptions to validate training needs.

In addition to exploring ability, skill, knowledge, and motivation as well analyzing needs, you must consider the instructional methods that will help you prepare new managers to meet the needs of the organization. In the online Creating New Managers Training Programs Certificate program, we take the opportunity to examine numerous examples, including specific training activities that you may wish to incorporate into your own new managers training programs and best practices in a particular program that you may wish to emulate in your own organization.

In the meantime, I would like to share a couple of examples of new managers training programs that I have designed and facilitated. These examples are aligned with the content in the Creating New Managers Training Programs Certificate program. Please consider how these examples may connect with your situation.

Example #1

The first example involves a group of 150 new managers across the United States. Our organization found that there was inconsistency throughout the local offices—everyone was managing in their own way. Skills that managers needed to be successful included following consistent processes, coaching team members, and demonstrating financial savvy. The rapid needs analysis included the following:

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  • The business goals were to use the same processes throughout the organization, implement a uniform coaching style, and improve the financial standing of the business.
  • To assess the current situation, we reviewed job descriptions, anecdotal performance data from human resources, and financial metrics.
  • Access to leadership in the national office and regional representatives who served as liaisons to the existing supervisors gave us an opportunity to discuss the perceived needs.

We discovered that the business needs were to tighten up and standardize in a number of areas: financial, customers, operations, and employees.

The resulting new managers training program became a series of two-day regional events with ongoing support provided after the events. We used games throughout the events that included trivia contests to learn more about the organization and reviewed exercises to assess understanding. Topics of focus and instructional methods included:

  • Following process—we provided documentation and handouts that outlined established standards. There were a series of lecturettes (brief instructional segments about the standards) and group discussions to promote application of the standards.
  • Coaching—we demonstrated a coaching model and then facilitated a skills practice during which the new managers developed their own plan for coaching team members and then participated in a role play to practice their plan.
  • Financial savvy—the Chief Financial Officer addressed the new managers at each regional event, sharing metrics throughout the presentation and providing documentation and handouts. We used a jigsaw exercise in which small groups met to discuss how to get from the current situation to meet the business goals. Then they came back together to form plans for moving forward when they got back to work.

Example #2
This case involves an organization with multiple offices in the same metropolitan area. Due to significant growth, there were 25 new managers who were promoted from their roles as individual contributors. However, employees had expressed discontent in working with their new managers so the director of human resources decided that the new managers needed training. 

Skills of interest included leading change to help address the implications of the significant growth, coaching to support success and encourage improvement in the employees, and resolving conflict for others and themselves. The rapid needs analysis included the following:

  • The business goals were to increase competence and decrease complaints from employees.
  • We received anecdotal details about the current situation and perceived needs from the human resources director.

In terms of business needs, there was interest in improvements to financial metrics, customer experiences, operational efficiencies, and employee relations.

The resulting new managers training program was a one day event. We used reflection and self-assessment activities throughout the program so that new managers would see how their new role as a manager differed from their roles as individual contributors. We outlined a standard discussion planner to assist new managers as they planned exchanges with their team members about a variety of topics. Topics of focus and instructional methods included:

  • Leading change—we used a lecturette about change and group discussions for helping employees deal with the growing pains. The new managers also practiced having conversations with team members about change, using a script that followed the same outline as their discussion planners.
  • Coaching for success and improvement—we used a lecturette about coaching and group discussions to examine various coaching opportunities throughout their teams. The new managers practiced having coaching conversations with team members. However this time instead of being given a script, they were given coaching scenarios and they created their own scripts using their discussion planners.
  • Resolving conflict—we used a lecturette about resolving conflict. The new managers then practiced resolving conflict among their team members. This time they were able to describe their own situations and they created their own scripts using their discussion planners.

Please note the progression throughout the day. First, new managers were given a scenario and script. Next, new managers were given a scenario from which they created their own scripts. Finally, new managers created their own scenarios and scripts. This was intended to help them become familiar with and then practice using the discussion planners in a safe environment before having to use them back at work.

To learn more about creating training for new managers as well as providing ongoing support to new managers, rolling out the training program, and evaluating the success of the training program, join me for the upcoming Creating New Managers Training Programs Certificate program, beginning December 1, 2014 in New York, NY.

About the Author
Julie Patrick is a learning and performance consultant with JP Learning Associates. Julie has been a trainer, facilitator, and instructional designer since 1992. As a former manager of a corporate university, Julie was responsible for new employee orientation, leadership and management, sales, client training, systems, and administrative training programs. She holds numerous certifications, including DDI, AchieveGlobal, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, and designs and implements training and development solutions that help clients achieve their desired business results. Julie also serves as an in-person and online facilitator for ATD's Master Trainer, Training Certificate, Designing Learning Certificate and Creating New Manager Training Programs Certificate Programs. She also wrote the Infolines "Creating Training Manuals" and "Creative Facilitation Techniques for Training." Julie has a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in organization development.
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