Why Do We Not Train New Managers

I came across an article recently that caught my attention for more than one reason. The article was “Do We Still Need Managers?” published in Fast Company in February 2022, and the answer to the question was “Most workers say ‘No’.” 
The subtitle on the article was “What we need from our managers has changed. But how we select and train them hasn’t.”
Does that resonate with you? I’m guessing it does for many of you. 

Common Problem

In our work with small- to mid-sized businesses, we find that it is a common problem. The process goes something like this:
  1. An employee is really good at their job technically and is a high performer.
  2. So their manager (someone on the leadership team) decides to promote the high performer to be a supervisor of other people who do that job.
  3. The management role usually involves higher pay and perhaps more benefits.
  4. So the high performing employee says yes.
  5. The employee is promoted, and given several people to oversee and manage. 
  6. Within weeks, the high performing employee is struggling, overwhelmed or no longer a high performer. 
  7. Senior managers start to wonder why the new manager isn’t performing well, and start to consider if they will need to remove them from the role.
What’s missing from this scenario? Management training. 
Unfortunately, this scenario happens all the time. I can think of two clients where this has happened, and one other company where I know a young professional who has a front row seat to this process.
But don’t take my word for it. Here are some stats from the article: 
  • An average of 83% of respondents (3,000 American workers) said they could do their job without a manager.
  • The most common management preparation is to replicate what a person saw in their manager – and that’s often not best practice.
  • Overall, 34% of managers receive no manager-specific training – none!
  • 59% of managers who oversee 1 or 2 people receive no manager training


Why Aren’t Managers Trained?

There are a number of reasons why senior managers may fail to train new managers more completely. Here are some reasons that we have found in our team and leadership development work with clients:
  1. Lack of time: Mid-level managers are often very busy and are not allotted the time from their senior management team to provide thorough training to new managers.
  2. Limited resources: Senior managers often not have the resources or support needed to provide thorough training to new managers.
  3. Limited knowledge: Senior managers may not have the expertise or knowledge needed to provide comprehensive training on certain topics. (After all, they probably didn’t receive training either.)
  4. Prioritizing other tasks: Senior managers may prioritize other tasks and responsibilities over training new managers, especially if they feel that the new managers are capable of learning on their own.
  5. Misunderstanding of the importance of training: Some senior managers may not fully understand the importance of training and may not see it as a priority.

What Kind of Managers Are Wanted?

The article shares research what people want in a manager. The number one trait? Empathetic leadership. The article says,
“90% of American workers equate empathetic leadership with higher job satisfaction, 88% say it builds employee loyalty, and 79% agree that it reduces turnover.” 
Meanwhile, only 47% of current managers say that they are prepared to lead with empathy. It’s a new skill and something that they haven’t learned or practiced, so they lack the element that most employees say they want. 
At D4, we teach leaders how to do this effectively with two different tools. One tool teaches how to best support your team while also offering the right amount of challenge. It’s a balancing act, for sure, but a skill that pays great dividends for managers. (You can download a free mini-course on this visual tool by going here.)
There are a variety of reasons why senior managers may fail to train new managers more completely. But we can all agree that it should be important for organizations to prioritize training and development for new managers. As Jeremie Kubicek of GiANT says, “All people problems are ultimately leadership problems.”
What are you doing to train and prepare your managers to lead your team well?
(Don’t have a system or program in place to train your new managers – or mid-level and senior managers? We’d love to help! Reach out to Mike , my business partner, today to set up a call to describe your situation and needs.)
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Micah Ray

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