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Building the next generation of managers: Ideas for supporting first-time managers

It's an exciting moment, being appointed to that first management position – a chance to step up into a leadership role and enter a new phase of your career.

But it can also be a challenging time – new pressures, new priorities, new skills. What can employers do to ease the transition from employee to manager?

One of the main challenges faced by some employees entering management roles is developing the required "soft skills." Many operational roles have little focus on people management, negotiation and communication that are intrinsic in most management roles.

New managers promoted from within the team can also struggle to establish themselves in their new senior roles. Depending on the team culture, they may face a hostile reaction from their former peers. There's also the challenge of delegating to former colleagues and friends when you step into a leadership role. These can both be a struggle for inexperienced managers.

For employers, there are significant benefits to investing in management development programs. Successful management development programs often include a mix of formal training sessions on core skills along with ongoing coaching and mentoring. This informal training is a great way to support new managers and to help them transition into their new role.

There are some other simple ways employers can assist their new managers:

• Make the expectations of the new role clear

• Be patient and give the new manager time to settle in

• Help them to identify issues before they become real problems

• Keep the communication channels open

• Find a balance between developing operational skills and building leadership skills

Stephen Bell, Managing Director of iHR Australia, says organisations must be aware of the bigger picture; "We should never assume that people moving into management roles for the first time are ready, that means providing ongoing support, coaching and training becomes imperative. Furthermore, it is up to senior managers to have the mentality of a coach and be prepared to provide ongoing feedback and meaningful performance appraisals that hone in on leadership skills. Often the challenge is that senior managers themselves have not been properly prepared for a coaching role so organisations should take a holistic approach, building the skills of management at all levels."

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