Managers are often promoted based on tenure or because they have a particularly impressive skill set in their job function. Does this sound familiar to how your organization operates? On one hand, this individual has valuable strengths and knows all the ins and outs of the company. A promotion will help keep them engaged and allow them more influence with their strong skills or historical knowledge.

Unfortunately, however, having tenure and job skills does not mean he or she knows how to lead and manage people – a key aspect of many new promotions. We see the negative impact of this gap all the time. Left unchecked, lack of leadership skills in new managers leads to severe engagement issues.

As I’ve mentioned before, Gallup estimates that only one out of ten managers has the natural capacity to excel in the position, while another two have the essential abilities but need coaching and structure. The other seven out of ten managers, however, will notably struggle to perform well without ample training. Let’s investigate how senior leadership can start new managers off right and give support to existing managers.

Train new leaders to lead through the lens of neuroscience

Leadership fads reign supreme. Walk into any bookstore or scroll through any business website, and you will find a myriad of the latest leadership trends. The issue is, no superficial technique will get to the heart of what really matters when it comes to building a high-performance organization. The only lasting approach is to unpack what conditions allow human beings to truly thrive.

The most effective onboarding experience for new managers will include the science of leading people well. In fact, this is where your onboarding should begin. Why here? Because this is where team buy-in comes from. Team buy-in equals team efficacy. If people understand why they are being asked to do something or behave in a certain way, the likelihood they will follow through is infinitely higher. By starting with the science behind great leadership, you are better positioned to develop great leadership.

Offer training and resources on an ongoing basis

Onboarding shouldn’t be the only time new managers receive training. New and existing managers should have access to ongoing learning during their tenure in your organization. What opportunities do you currently provide for management training or professional development? Does your staff know these options exist and how to access them? Are you actively encouraging them to participate?

Investing in your managers’ success will enhance their drive and ability to lead well. If you are looking for resources to provide your managers with, consider partnering with my team of experts through our various workshops or online leadership development platform.

Check-in with managers regularly

Gone are the days of annual reviews. Research shows these infrequent conversations are ineffective ways to evaluate employee performance. Senior leaders should schedule quarterly (even monthly) check-ins with their managers. These regular meetings will increase clarity, keep the organization aligned, and allow space to work through potential challenges before they grow bigger. Get these meetings scheduled on your calendar in a predictable fashion (perhaps the first Monday of every month), so it becomes part of everyone’s routine.

Evaluate performance with a reliable tool and follow-up on results

Finally, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. I know I say this phrase all the time – but measuring engagement is so critical to the success of an organization. Find a survey tool that fits your needs (see: Measuring the Right Things), so you can reliably assess each manager’s leadership capacity. At E3, we break down our survey data by manager, so senior leaders can see the results by individual teams. Regardless of the survey you choose, remember that taking the survey is only half the battle. As senior leadership, you must also analyze the results, communicate them to your staff in a positive and constructive way, and support your managers with resources and guidance to build the highest-performing culture possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Managers aren’t just born – they’re developed. Most people who become managers have no experience leading people and few skills to manage people. Don’t assume simply promoting someone will make a good manager.
  • Set managers up for success from the beginning – and regularly throughout their leadership careers – by providing them with science-based training, resources, and tools to succeed.
  • Measure engagement to better understand and support leader performance.