Setting Up Your First-Time Managers for Success

Preparing Your First-Time Managers for Leadership & Success


What Great Managers do to Setup their First-time Managers
What Leadership must do to help their first-time managers

The biggest responsibility of a leader is to build people for their respective roles. Most organizations and their senior leaders, however, tend to give more importance to the selection of managers over developing them.

Leadership development is an important part of an organization’s growth story. Your organization is run by middle-managers. Most of them are selected on the basis of the skills shown as individual contributors.

As their role shifts in the organization, the need for a different set of skills and attributes also arises. While they might have shown leadership traits in the past, a change in their working environment leads to many mental upheavals.

During this crucial period, it becomes even more important for the senior leadership to take up the role of mentor for the newly-appointed managers. In this article, we will explore how the senior leadership of an organization can help its first-time managers in realizing their true potential.

Let us go through a simple conversation overheard in a firm’s conference room.

“You were always the best performer of your batch, Stacy. How can a team perform poorly under your leadership?”, said David, a senior manager. His organization’s star employee and youngest manager sat with her head hung low.

This is quite a common conversation between an organizational head and a first-time manager.

If you, as a senior leader, think your job is over after promoting a deserving candidate to a position of leadership, you’re probably wrong.

On the contrary, the real challenge begins now.

A company’s management chooses its managers based on the performance of its employee. Then, the best task performer is expected to be an effective leader.

This transition from a task performer to a team leader is not as smooth as you would expect.

Let us go over the survey conducted by a micro-learning platform called Grovo on 500 managers. Around 44% of them felt under-prepared for their role.
And, 87% of them admitted that they required more training.

A promotion is a reward of good performance and leadership traits. A promoted position, on the other hand, is a test of one’s leadership potential.

At this point, your managers need more than a few words of motivation.

Moving further, we will explore what a senior leader can do to help newly minted managers step on the ladder of success.


It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and find no one there”. -Franklin Roosevelt

This quote describes the dilemma of a new manager without a mentor.

Coaching and mentor-ship seems like an obvious step after promotion of an individual. The Reality, however, stands different. Generally, new managers find themselves at their career’s crossroads without adequate support form senior leaders.

Most first-line managers are more nervous than they admit. They’re full of doubts and apprehensions. But, they don’t ask many questions to avoid seeming incapable.

A leadership program consisting of an expert panel and new managers can help immensely in such a case. When they spend time with their fellow peers, they realize that they’re not alone. All of them have similar questions.

Senior leadership must let its middle-managers, especially new ones, know that they have their support. When they know that there’s a mentor to lean back on, they will proceed with more confidence.

The senior leadership must provide guidance for a better transition. You should help them realize the benefits and importance of delegation. You must teach them the difference between “I-can-do-it-all” to “We-should-do-it-all”.

    When you promote an individual to a position of leadership, their performance becomes your responsibility.Most first-time managers feel helpless at the onset of their tenure. They were a part of team with shared-responsibilities; their promotion makes them a lone warrior responsible for the entire team.Thus, the senior leadership must remain involved with the managers to help them make better decisions. A new manager will be able to take decision confidently only if he/she knows that there’s someone behind them.
    A new manager is always eager to get feedback. From the team to the reporting authority, he/she wants to keep everyone happy.As a senior leader, you must help them understand the actual value of a constructive opinion. A judgement or an opinion without a constructive pathway to correction is useless.A feed-forward helps an individual understand the cause for their behavior and how they should channelize it productively.Remember to impart them the value of not losing the sight of the goal.
    We have already stressed the importance of support system. Having an informal group with people of similar mindsets will immensely help your first-time managers.This will become a place for them to share their thoughts and ask peers for help whenever required. An informal group will help them put their guards down and face their insecurities.It will also build cross-departmental camaraderie which is great for overall organizational goal.
    Fun Tip
    : Throw a lunch for all the newbies and get them talking. A casual setting with a formal agenda is all you need to get the ball rolling.
    There’s nothing that can overshadow the importance of having an exclusive one-on-one. You can establish a deeper connect and learn problem exclusively faced by your mentee during a one-on-one. Ensure you takes notes and follow-up action items. You can use your daily apps or can use an one on one meeting software.As per reports, an employee finds more confidence and can solve problems clearly when they touch-base periodically with their superiors. You can learn how to build a great one-on-one culture in your company with this ultimate one-on-one guide


First-time managers are usually responsible for operational efficiency and driving the team together. Their role is more nuanced and important than the credit they’re given.

The responsibility of the senior leadership is to realize their worth and help them perform accordingly. As senior leadership, you must realize the need for mentoring them and nurturing their talent.

After all, your middle-level managers are the reflection of you and your organizational values. Your one step of encouragement will help them take leaps of progress.