Updated March 2022
What's the number one challenge facing every single new manager? Lack of training on how to actually lead a team.
Whether you were drafted into management because someone quit, or you paid in blood, sweat, and tears to earn that promotion—you're all in the same boat.
Very few organizations offer comprehensive (if any) management training.
One study by consulting firm West Monroe found that 59 per cent of Americans got no training whatsoever when they were promoted to management.
So, what's a first-time manager to do?
While employers drag their feet, seek out your own training on how to master the biggest, most fundamental challenge of your new job—managing your human resources.
Take a page from the HR training handbook. Here's how a few HR basics can significantly improve your transition to management—and earn you respect as a leader.
Build a Better Interviewing & Hiring Strategy
One of your key responsibilities as a manager will likely be to interview and hire new employees. This is a far more challenging process than most new leaders realize. And there's a lot at stake.
Misguided hiring practices can spawn a whole host of problems—hiring the wrong fit for the role, losing the faith of your team members, wasting company money, and even triggering legal issues.
Do you know exactly which questions you can and can't ask during an interview (according to the law where you live)?
Do you know the best way to develop a job description for a vacant position? How about ways to structure an interview so you get the clearest possible sense of which candidate is the best fit?
In many cases, managers hire people they instinctively like and trust—overlooking key signs that they're not necessarily the most qualified applicant.
Relying on a gut feeling, snap judgment, or first impression is one of the biggest hiring mistakes managers make.
Human resources management training teaches a comprehensive system for evaluating and selecting appropriate job candidates. This process includes steps like:
- Creating a detailed, relevant job description
- Using a standardized checklist during interviews to ensure you don't get sidetracked and that you cover all your bases while talking with each candidate
- Putting a process in place to thoroughly check all references, supporting documents, and credentials
- Developing pre-screening tools to weed out inappropriate candidates (thus saving you time on interviews and helping you zero in on the most qualified applicants more quickly)
This is a system any leader can adapt to their own particular field, and use to dramatically reduce hiring errors—and enormous amounts of wasted time.
Run more productive Performance Reviews
Is there anything employees hate more than performance reviews? How about poorly conducted, seemingly irrelevant performance reviews? We've all been there.
Evaluating performance and checking in with your team falls under the "communication" skillset for managers. This is where many, many leaders fall short.
A somewhat shocking poll by Harvard Business Review found that a whopping 91 per cent of employees think their managers have terrible communication skills. Specifically:
- 63% said their manager did not recognize employee achievements
- 57% said their manager did not give clear directions
- 52% said their manager did not make time to talk with employees
- 39% said their manager did not offer constructive criticism
Perhaps worst of all, 51 per cent said their manager wouldn't talk to subordinates, and 36% claimed he/she didn't even know their name!
HR training can help managers develop much more productive and meaningful performance review strategies. This process should include:
- Regular sit-downs and check-ins with your team, to address concerns, answer questions, and offer meaningful guidance on major tasks
- Effectively structured performance reviews that thoroughly address strengths and weaknesses, and invite employees to set their own progress/development goals
- Ways to help employees improve their skills (such as access to training)
- Asking for feedback on your own approach and performance as a manager
New managers shouldn't hesitate to seek out some practical support in this area. You'll reap big rewards in higher employee retention, a more productive team, and an all-round happier workplace.
helpful Conflict Resolution Skills
Managers hate conflict between team members. They don't want to get stuck in the middle of what they assume is a messy "personal" dispute.
Personal or not, workplace conflict is a major issue in many businesses and organizations. And avoiding it is a common (and costly) rookie manager mistake.
Unresolved conflict is a top reason good employees quit their jobs. But they won't tell you that directly. When pressed, they'll say you lack empathy, that the workplace was "toxic", and they felt "burned out." These are all common descriptors for an office where tensions run high, conflict is always simmering, and employees are fed up.
But what it boils down to is this: you failed to stand up for your team, take charge, and facilitate a resolution. This is yet another area of leadership that draws heavily on HR management skills.
New leaders need a toolkit of conflict resolution strategies they can use to deal swiftly and fairly with disputes among team members. This includes understanding:
- When laws are being broken (such as workplace harassment) and how to respond
- When and how to fire an employee
- How to help warring factions find peace through negotiation and mediation
- How to appear impartial and avoid taking sides
Be the leader who knows how to step up with practical help and a cool head. You'll win the respect of your team, and prove your mettle as a master people-manager.
Learn more about HR training for new managers
Kompass offers an online Human Resources Management certificate that is specifically designed to help new managers lead with confidence.
The courses are flexible and can be completed in three to six months, depending on the pace you choose.
Instructors are highly experienced HR professionals with a wealth of practical tools and knowledge to share.
Click below to explore the certificate in more detail.