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Why and how to support your first-time managers

First-time managers are feeling the strain. Here’s how to make sure these vital workers are getting the support they need to lead.

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Posted On Apr 24, 2023 

Organize, oversee, motivate, support, report – these are just some of the myriad of responsibilities for frontline managers.


It’s not exactly a walk in the park. In a recent report by LHH, 45% of managers reported feeling burned out, compared to just 23% of non-managers.


Managers have one eye on the day-to-day, answering their team’s questions, assigning work, signing it off – the list goes on. The other (maybe sheepishly) looking up, with progress to report on and targets to meet for their superiors.


It's hard to prepare anyone for this kaleidoscopic role and many first-time managers are left undertrained, overwhelmed and in need of a helping hand.


How can employers give first-time managers the support they need to thrive?


The world on their shoulders


Frontline managers take on a lot of responsibility for the wellbeing of their teams. According to the LHH report, 75% of bosses and 66% of non-managing employees look to managers to improve working conditions.


This isn’t always as simple as taking your team out for lunch. Managers need to provide emotional support and effective leadership while meeting their own workloads. And despite hybrid and remote management being a challenge, just 14% of employers have redesigned the manager role.


All of this requires training – and managers aren’t confident in what they’re getting.


Less than 4 in 10 feel like they’ve had adequate training to help them develop, with many suffering from imposter syndrome as a result.


Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t make for a dream job. Unless employers start offering more proactive support to their first-time managers, it will be harder to attract the most talented candidates to these roles and even harder to retain them. That means more time spent onboarding new people and building a consistent company culture.


A bit of support goes a long way


Providing effective support for your first-time managers and investing in their development will help them with their new responsibilities and excel in their roles.


Here are some of the steps employers can take, starting today:


Upskilling should be the first item on the to-do list to equip workers for leadership.


Transitioning from doing to overseeing can be quite the transition. They need to learn how to give constructive feedback and delegate tasks effectively to avoid micromanaging. Leadership workshops and mentoring programs are a great way to do it.


Training in communication, motivation, and team building will also help recently promoted managers adjust to positions of seniority. Motivating people, managing their different personalities, and resolving their disputes aren't easy skills to pick up right away – they need to be honed through coaching and mentoring. It’s up to employers to provide it.


Alongside training, employers need to protect managers’ wellbeing.


If they’re stressed due to their new workload, this will be transmitted to the rest of the team, so employers need to make sure managers are being looked after. This could be regular check-ins from HR to see how managers are adjusting or providing counseling if needed. It could be as simple as ensuring they’re not working too late!


Higher-ups can help out by establishing a collaborative, open company culture. Ensuring new managers feel comfortable asking for advice and offering personal mentorship will go a long way to ward off the dreaded imposter syndrome.


Clear communication is key


When a new role entails so many responsibilities, it can be hard to know where to begin. It’s up to employers to provide that clarification. Laying out responsibilities and setting clear, achievable goals will help first-time managers get their priorities straight, making the task ahead seem a little less daunting.


Becoming a manager for the first time can feel like carrying the world on your shoulders – it’s a heavy weight to take on alone. If employers pitch in with some helping hands, it gives them the time and space to train their managerial muscles. Eventually they’ll be able to do the heavy lifting on their own.


At LHH, we support managers all across the organization develop into effective and impactful leaders. To learn more, click here.