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The secret to developing managers that help your business thrive

April 22, 2022 - 10 min read


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1. Set up a mentoring scheme

2. Support collaboration

3. Develop soft skills

4. Provide coaching

Have you ever thought about the role managers play in your company? Being a manager isn't just about delegating tasks or assigning projects. 

In reality, managers set the example for the people on their team, and are also supposed to emulate company behaviors and core values.

They are ambassadors for your company and your company culture. While part of their role is managing people’s time, another part is to ensure team members understand the company’s vision and purpose and are committed.

Becoming a manager for the first time is a big responsibility. While it may be exciting for some, it’s daunting to think that suddenly another person’s workload, workplace, welfare, and career are in your hands.

Traditionally, people become managers by rising through the ranks. In today’s changing landscape, people can become managers early on without necessarily being ready for it.

It’s not an easy task and should be taken seriously by everyone at all levels of the organization. While there are many factors that can influence a team’s success, a great manager is certainly one of the most important parts of the employee experience


In fact, 98% of people will fail to be engaged when managers give little to no feedback. With only 2% of your workforce engaged without avenues for feedback, that's a massive impact on business. 

How can we ensure managers have all the resources and knowledge available to them to do their jobs well, and ultimately drive their team members towards success? These are four tips for developing first-time managers and making sure the transition is as smooth as can be.

1. Set up a mentoring scheme

Make sure first-time managers aren’t thrown into the deep end without a transitional period. Having a mentoring scheme in place (formal or informal) can help ease people into their new responsibilities.

There are many ways you can mentor people. For example, allow first-time managers to shadow someone senior to them or anybody in a similar role who has managerial experience. Or give people the opportunity to observe and openly ask questions.

Having a mentor makes it easier to ask for support when needed and support in building relationships. Support coming from mentorship can make a difference between a new manager that’s not prepared to deal with the changes, and one that comes into the team with confidence.

After all, a team needs to believe in their manager’s ability to lead them. Sometimes, the mentoring scheme can be folded into a larger new manager training program. 

2. Support collaboration

Turning to more experienced colleagues for advice is good, but peer support can also be incredibly valuable. Provide open management sessions on a regular basis to encourage first-time managers to share their feedback, knowledge, tips, and issues in an open and constructive environment where the only aim is to improve.

In larger organizations, it’s good practice to group together newer or first-time managers from various departments, for meetings with open discussion. Think about how you can use internal communication can help break down silos and empower communication between managers. 


This can be a great way to see people’s development in their roles, but also an opportunity to become aware of the issues that frequently arise with first-time leaders. By giving these topics a forum for feedback and discussion, people can develop together and address their concerns.

3. Develop soft skills

Being a manager requires a very specific set of skills, in particular those such as empathy and emotional intelligence. Set goals around management and leadership skills to help provide people with a focus. For example:

All of these will be key to making your managers effective. Ensure these processes are not short-lived and check in regularly on management competencies throughout the organization, even when people become more seasoned managers. Developing these management skills takes time, and they need to be practiced regularly.

4. Provide coaching

As mentioned above, being a manager requires good people skills. Nowadays, the trend is moving towards managers being coaches or applying coaching skills, which makes sense when you consider the benefits of the approach.

The premise is that each person has the power to reach their full potential to find a meaningful path and solutions to whatever problems they may encounter along the way. The coach’s role is therefore to guide the individual on a path to self-discovery, through powerful questions. 

We've seen first-hand the impact coaching can have on a workforce. Larry McAllister, VP of Global Talent at NetApp, talks about how coaching has transformed how employees and managers at NetApp learn, grow, and care for one another. 

While that may be difficult to grasp, the reality is that in the workplace we are dealing with people on a daily basis.

The better equipped we are to manage difficult relationships, the better we can be at our jobs, and the more people are likely to feel fulfilled at work. 83% of employees list finding meaning in day-to-day work as a top priority. Managers who have developed good coaching skills can support that.


Don’t underestimate the important role managers play within your organization. As ambassadors of your company culture, it’s crucial to ensure first-time managers are prepared for their new responsibilities, as well as continuously develop their people and communication skills.

Remember, people leave managers, not jobs. A Gallup study found that 1 in 2 people will quit their job at some point in their career to get away from a manager. If your organization can develop good managers, they will pay it forward. 

To equip your managers with the coaching skills they need to unlock your workforce's potential, try BetterUp. With personalized, individual guidance, your managers can thrive, which leads to thriving, high-performing teams

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Published April 22, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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