How do you train new managers?

Being a first-time manager is daunting — so I asked our Watercooler members how they support their own newly promoted managers.


When you hire or promote a new manager, you hope they’ll be great. After all, they were a wonderful, all-round employee. But being a wonderful, all-round employee unfortunately doesn’t guarantee that someone will be a great manager. Surely, some qualities are translatable (say, for instance, the person has a strong work ethic and is a clear communicator). However, as new manager, she is now doing things they’ve never done before: Her coworkers, who were once peers, are now looking to her for direction. Her ultimate charge is no longer to just get her own work done — it’s to ensure the success of the team’s work.

As a leader, you use muscles you don’t typically exercise. So the more support and practice new managers can get, the better. As a result, I’ve always been curious to understand what companies do to help provide help and guidance for managers the first-time around. What books, if any, do they ask people to read? Do they put folks through a leadership training?

I took my question to The Watercooler, our online community where 600+ leaders from all over the world speak frankly about leadership, management and company culture. It’s not surprising that several leaders answered with some similar advice.

From The Watercooler, these books were recommended for being helpful to new managers…

And, here were some other tips from that Watercooler members found useful for supporting their new managers:

  • Mentorship. One Watercooler member said that mentorship has been the best tool she has found for training managers. “Pairing a new manager with an experienced manager — who values and thinks critically about the craft — provides more acceleration than other solutions I’ve found,” she wrote. She also recalled what an incredible impact her mentor had on her to help her navigate difficult situations and make sound decisions.
  • Standardized training for managers. Whether it’s conducted in-house or through a third-party agency, this Watercooler member found standardized training more useful and valuable than she originally expected. When everyone goes through the same training, managers have a shared language and ideas, she said.
  • “Stakeholder meetings.” A Watercooler member shared the idea of these meetings, which she said were fantastic for her team. They’re held once a month with new peers and managers “a level or two up,” who will be most directly impacted by the manager’s decisions. “It’s a great opportunity to share some of the things we wished we had known when we first started out as managers,” she wrote.

Being a manager is hard enough. Being a first-time manager is all-together its own beast. Choosing to support these first-time managers in your organization will help make things less rocky for them — and less of a headache for you 🙂


Want to train your new managers to create a culture of feedback? Check out our in-person, hands-on workshop 👉 “The Feedback Loop.” We still have a few spots left for our May 17th workshop session — reserve your spot today.




Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Know Your Team. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work.

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