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Help Your People Become Great Managers

It's always good when you can promote an amazing employee to a management position--but don't forget to help your new manager excel at leadership. Here's how.

No one ever said that it's easy to be a manager. This is especially true when you have employees who are making the transition--whether due to a promotion, special assignment, or other reason--from doer to manager of doers. While they may be incredibly talented at doing whatever job it is they were hired to do, when they are promoted into management positions, they falter.

Why do so many bright, talented people have trouble becoming good managers? For one thing, the skills needed to be a great programmer, or salesperson, or accountant are often totally different from the skills required to manage a team of programmers, or a team of salespeople, or a team of accountants. To add insult to injury, few managers-to-be are trained in the skills necessary to become good managers.

More often than not, a talented salesperson, software programmer, or other doer is plucked from an organization, given the secret "new manager" handshake, and is then expected to lead his or her group like a pro. Unfortunately, it takes more than being given a new title and a new office to be an effective manager.

The hardest part of making the transition from doer to manager is the difficulty in letting go of the old role and learning to delegate those tasks to others. Managers have to have good planning skills, organizational skills, leadership skills and follow-up skills.  Not only that, but they have to be able to motivate, reward, and discipline their team like a pro.

So, what can you do to help your new managers become better and more effective at their jobs? Here are three suggestions:

1. Provide Them with Training

There are plenty of consultants and trainers available who would love nothing more than to provide training in management and leadership skills to your people. These professional trainers can be pricey, however, and not affordable for many businesses. So rather than hiring someone from outside your organization to do the job, offer in-house training led by your best managers. A few one-hour sessions during lunch or after work can work wonders on the skills of your new managers.

2. Provide Lots of Feedback

People may not know if they're doing a good or bad job unless someone tells them. Give your new managers plenty of feedback on their management and leadership efforts--once a week or even more would not be too much. With your feedback in hand, your people can correct and finetune their approach to management, making them better managers in the process--and keeping their direct reports happier and more engaged as well.

3. Start a Leadership Book Club

There are many great books on management and leadership available, written by some pretty smart people. Invite your new managers (and your existing managers, for that matter) to participate, pick a book for everyone to read, and then schedule regular club meetings where you can discuss the techniques offered by each book. Again, meeting once a week would work well.

Don't expect your people to figure out how to be better managers all by themselves. Take some time to ensure that they have the basic skills, and then continue to provide them with guidance as they grow with your organization. It's a win-win for everyone involved.

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Last updated: Oct 11, 2013


While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest columns, and visit him anytime at

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