The Five Skills That Managers Need Early in Their Career

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Performance Management

The Five Skills That Managers Need Early in Their Career

There are a lot of lists out there that talk about all of the skills that managers need to be successful. This post isn’t disputing any of them. But let’s be realistic. It’s very difficult for a new manager to be proficient in everything. Being a good manager takes time.

So instead of addressing management development from a broad perspective, organizations might want to focus their resources on developing knowledge and skills based on the specific stage of a manager’s career: early, mid or late. In this three-post series, we’re going to do just that—outline the knowledge and skills that managers need during their early, mid and late career.

Newbie managers need these 5 special skills. Make sure they get them! @sharlyn_lauby
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Early Career Stage: 5 Skills Managers Need

A couple of months ago, we talked about the three ingredients that organizations should include in their talent strategy: performance, learning and engagement. Managers in the early stages of their career should focus on development in the area of performance. Here are five skills that every new manager should have:

1. Recruiting

One of the first tasks that we give managers is interviewing. It’s helpful for managers to understand the entire recruiting process. Talent acquisition professionals might want to consider revamping the traditional “intake interview” into more of a recruiting strategy meeting. This new format could give managers greater insight into the entire process and their responsibilities.

2. Onboarding

Unfortunately, there is no training class for managers on how to conduct onboarding. The way most managers learn how to onboard is just by being onboarded into their organization. That could be a good thing…or a not-so-good thing. Learning and development professionals can help new managers by giving them their own onboarding program including some instruction and checklists on the best way to onboard the employees they hire.

3. Performance Evaluation

A key responsibility for managers is evaluating performance. If organizations want managers to do this effectively, they need to understand their role in the performance management process, which is more than how to complete a performance review form. Managers should understand how performance standards are set, know what performance standards are in place and how to effectively communicate performance standards to employees.  

4. Feedback

On some level, this seems obvious. Managers need to know how to deliver feedback as well as accept it. They need to know how to coach employees, both in terms of rewarding and recognizing excellent performance and correcting poor performance. Unfortunately, in some organizations, feedback training isn’t conducted for new managers. Or it’s conducted after a manager makes a mistake. For managers to become comfortable with feedback, they need to do it a lot. Give them training early in their career so they can use the right tools from day one.

5. Accountability

As a member of the management team, managers need to understand accountability and their obligations. They need to hold themselves personally accountable. Employees need to be held accountable. There could be situations where managers need to hold a peer or their boss accountable. Organizations should make sure that new managers understand accountability, what it means to the company and how to effectively hold someone accountable.

Develop managers in the early stages of their career

Managers are responsible for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement, according to Gallup. Investing in their training and development only makes good business sense. And not just training in the technical areas of their work. That’s important. But also developing their knowledge and skills in areas related to hiring, coaching and accountability, so they can create high performing teams.

If managers are given the training, development and coaching they need in these areas, then they start to build a foundation of managerial knowledge and skills that they can build upon as they approach their mid-career stage. Stay tuned for the next post in this series…knowledge and skills for managers in the middle stage of their career.

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