3 “Must Have Skills” for New Managers to Succeed


Never just promote an individual contributor to a management position and walk away. It is too big a step for them to take without adequate preparation and the risk of failure is too great. Consider the costs of such a failure…a whole team is rendered less productive, there is a loss of morale and maybe even a loss of that team’s critical talent. Additionally you open yourself up for potentially avoidable employee relation issues and costly lawsuits.

If you are in charge of the promotion, you should be in charge of seeing that your new manager has the all the skills, tools and support required to succeed.

In our 20+ years of providing new manager training, we have learned what newly promoted managers find most difficult as they step up to the challenge of their new role:

  1. Managing conflict between members of their team
  2. Motivating team members to greater discretionary effort and positive employee engagement
  3. Handling performance reviews effectively

The common thread that links these three challenges is effective communication. New managers have to understand how to negotiate, inspire and give meaningful feedback.

  1. Conflict on the team

    New managers need to connect with all the individuals that report to them, understand what makes them tick and earn their trust. The best way for them to begin is by setting up regular one-on-one sessions with each team member, ask a few open-ended questions and listen well.

  2. Inspiring the team

    New managers need to be able to clearly set and articulate team goals that are aligned with the overall company business strategy in a way that the team knows the value of their specific contributions. They need to feel a critical part of something meaningful. They need to know that their manager has their back and is committed to supporting their efforts in a way that makes sense to them and their career aspirations. The best managers are role models for their employees…they operate with integrity, fairness, transparency, empathy and optimism.

  3. Giving effective feedback

    No one looks forward to the old-fashioned style performance reviews. New managers need to learn how to give feedback regularly…both positive and negative. Tweak unproductive behaviors whenever observed but with an attitude of a good coach who believes in continuous learning for improvement. Praise productive behaviors as well so team members feel appreciated when they make an honest effort to change. Straightforward, direct communication should be a value that all practice.

Promote your new managers but provide a comprehensive plan for their development. Work with them to identify the skills they will need to succeed and to help their team to succeed. And make sure that whatever training you provide is supported by the fundamentals of effective communication.

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