Blog Managing People

How to support first-time managers to be successful and effective

Managers are the single biggest influence on employee engagement - they make or break a team. That's why HR and senior leadership need to step up to support their first-time managers. Especially with the new challenges a hybrid-working world brings. A good manager champions their team, encouraging each individual to be their best selves. A bad manager ruins careers and workplace culture.

The numbers don’t lie about new managers

Staff attrition costs UK businesses around £30,000 per employee. But that’s just an average, and those costs sky rocket depending on things like role type and salary level. 

To make matters worse, UK businesses are losing managers faster than they can produce them. So figuring out how to support first-time managers more effectively needs to be top priority for employers moving forward. How companies support new managers can vary significantly.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your newly promoted employee knows how to lead just because they thrived in their original role. They’re more likely to leave than ask for help.

Incompetent management will cost you other employees

Figuring out how to support first-time managers isn’t just about keeping them from leaving. It’s also about making sure they don’t drive off the rest of your employees. When new managers don't get support from HR and more experienced leaders, it opens the door for bad habits to start.

Some of it might be nerves, and some of it might be habits they've picked up from less-than-stellar managers they’ve had in the past. Either way, common bad habits from inexperienced managers can include:

  • Nervous micromanagement
  • Lack of adequate employee feedback
  • Ignoring employee input

Then there are the soft skills a manager needs in order to lead effectively. A leader needs to be able to actively listen to their employees, and have the emotional intelligence to be able to support the wellbeing of the team.

These things are essential for building workplace relationships built on trust. Without them, it’s not surprising that new managers can struggle. But newly promoted employees don’t need to go in blind. It’s simply a matter of providing them with the right support from the get-go.

How to support first-time managers

You support your first time managers by giving them the right tools and training, underpinned by on-going support. So, here are our top tips for how to support first-time managers in your business so they’ll stick around and keep excelling:

Prioritise their training and education

Formal training is vital so that your managers understand things like employment law and how to respond in difficult situations. Some people just aren’t cut out to be managers, others just need steering in the right direction. Empathy and active listening, as well as how to deliver effective feedback are crucial skills.

The UK workforce isn’t the only one experiencing issues with its managers. The majority of US managers don’t have any management training at all. So, if you’re stuck for how to support first-time managers in your business, we’d recommend starting here.

Streamline their feedback processes

Make it easy for your managers to give and get feedback regularly. Rather than just an annual snapshot, managers need to check-in with their employees weekly. Not only can a regular check-in help new managers get to grips with the needs of their team, it also means they have a better view of their team's performance.

Provide effective goal-setting

Goal-setting tools make sure that everyone has a manageable workload. They also help managers to be more hands-off by giving their team the autonomy to work to their own company-aligned goals. They help managers to see at a glance what sort of progress their team is making.

Weekly10 supports both SMART Goals and OKRs, meaning you can choose what works for you and your team.

Show them team sentiment

So, your managers are checking in with their teams regularly, and now you have a mountain of data. Of course, you could have HR sift through it for patterns of meaningful insight. But there’s a better way. Aside from cutting down the busywork, machine learning algorithms can analyse employee sentiment for trends that human eyes might miss.

HR must work with managers to implement actionable insight

Feedback and sentiment analysis are useless if you don’t do anything with the information. In fact, failing to do anything about the issues employees bring to you will undermine the whole feedback process.

Fortunately, that’s where HR come in. HR can help managers to make changes based on employee feedback. Whether it’s a change in office layout, taking steps to support employee mental health, or something else. There’s a good chance it’ll have to go through HR anyway, so cut out the legwork and involve them from the beginning.