Request a demo

in Continuous Feedback

First Time Managers are essential for employee retention.

So why aren’t companies investing in their development?

It’s a common trope that most employees who leave organizations are doing so because of their manager, rather than the work itself.  The manager-employee relationship is an incredibly important one and as we are social creatures, it dominates the conversation when it comes to employee retention.  If the manager is not able to effectively do their job, then your top talent is going to go elsewhere to work under someone who can.

That’s why it is so bizarre to us, that so few companies actually invest in developing their first-time managers and equipping them with the skills they need to thrive in their new role.  A white paper from the Center for Creative Leadership in 2020 stated that 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job according to their subordinates, 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others to begin with, and almost 60% didn’t receive any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.

What Skills Do First-Time Managers Need?

There are plenty of management skills that are important to learn, here are just three to give you a taste:

  • Clear communication.  A manager needs to be able to clearly communicate the vision that everyone is working towards, along with individual expectations, constructive criticism, roles and responsibilities, and a range of other things.  If a manager is not able to communicate these effectively, then the employees will be out of sync and not pulling in the same direction.
  • Empathy.  When you’re managing people, you need to be able to relate to them on a human level and display empathy and understanding when working with them.  First-time managers can often get so caught up in the work that needs to be done that they forget the human behind the desk.  Empathy is crucial for getting the most out of your team.
  • Delegation.  A first-time manager has normally been given that role because of what they’ve been able to achieve themselves in their previous role.  But management is a whole different kettle of fish because you need to be able to delegate effectively and trust your team to deliver the quality of work that is required.  This is a very important skill to learn.

How Should You Train First-Time Managers?

The only way to equip first-time managers with the skills they need is for companies to invest in their development and get them into formal leadership and management training structures before they start the role.  Ideally, you’ll want a blended approach that combines digital learning material with coaching – to upskill the manager and assist with changing their mental paradigm about the new role.

Then, you should look to offer continuous coaching and mentoring as they move through the waters of management, so that you are continuously investing in them and giving them the support that they need.

All of this development has a domino effect, because it filters down to the employees themselves: improving retention, increasing productivity, and creating better engagement.  It’s naïve to think that a new manager will have the skills needed to take on such an important role right off the start.  First time manager training is absolutely crucial and, when done well, is a superpower for your organization.  Ignore it at your peril.  

Write a Comment


  1. Supporting first-time managers is the best way to build amazing leaders of the future. It’s great to see that people are realising how important this is, as it will have a direct effect on employee retention and the career of the manager.