How you can help new leaders to succeed

Published: 22nd June 2020

How you can help new leaders to succeed

The transition from employee to leadership position can be a difficult one and is much more complex than many people appreciate. In fact, four out of ten newly promoted managers and executives fail within the first 18 months*. So, just why exactly is this and how can we work to help new leaders succeed and flourish?

Firstly, it’s crucial to note that the skills and attributes that meant an employee was successful in their previous role won’t necessarily transition to mean they become a naturally great leader. A high performing employee can easily become a mediocre manager, something that no organisation wants to be burdened with. This means it’s vital to ensure these new leaders get the support they need to shift into being fantastic leaders who can take the reins and become successful leaders who your organisation can rely upon.  

75% of new executives and managers fail because they fail to establish a cultural fit. This means they don’t fit in with the culture that already exists within the organisation they become part of or are promoted within. This means organisations should be making their company culture clear right from the beginning of the hiring process. Their culture should come across clearly and simply in their job advertisements so that they attract the right candidates who do fit in with their culture and will work effectively within their organisation.

Having the right support is one of the most important things for new managers, leaders and executives. They must have the right support and assistance to allow them to properly transition into this role. Directors, HR departments and other senior leaders and managers all need to support the new hire in their role and new leadership position in order for them to have the best chance to succeed.

Showing your new leaders that they are supported can lead to higher job satisfaction levels and a greater commitment to your organisation, making them less likely to leave to find a new role elsewhere.

One effective way to make your new leader feel supported by those around them is by creating a learning network, or mentor network. This can be as simple as assigning someone in a senior position to meet with the newly hired or promoted leader once a week to discuss any issues they’re facing.

If you have any directors, senior leaders or managers who have transitioned from employee to a leadership position, they’re the ideal candidate for a mentor role as they can use their own experiences in the same situation to help their mentee and contribute to the new leaders success.

The mentor should also make it clear they’re available anytime to discuss problems, give advice and act as a sounding board. This will go a long way to making them feel supported and valued by your organisation and help them feel as though their transition from employee to leadership role is destined for success.

Another reason new leaders often don’t succeed is because they aren’t given any training to help them adapt to their new role or, if they are given training, it’s not the right fit. It’s crucial that if you are delivering training to a new manager that it is tailored to their role and relevant to them. This means any generic leadership training should be avoided, as it’s a poor use of time for the person delivering the training and the new leader who is receiving it.

Instead, be deliberate about any training you provide. Address the specific challenges that first time managers face, any challenges that may come up in their individual new position and help them feel best prepared to approach their new role.

New leaders should also have time set aside in their schedule for development. A recent study* showed more than a quarter of people said the most likely reason they would leave a job is because they weren’t given the opportunity to learn and grow. Ensure you retain your new leaders (and all of your other employees), by setting aside dedicated development and learning time to allow people to learn and flourish.

Uninterrupted time for new leaders can be devoted to training, learning and furthering their skills to allow them to develop into the type of managers and leaders that your organisation can depend upon. This time should be in their schedule and shouldn’t be overlooked in favour of meetings or other tasks. Instead, show your organisation’s commitment to their development in their new role by allowing them the time they need to make the transition successfully.

Celebrating your new leaders successes is also an important step towards helping them make the transition. Acknowledging any success, no matter how large or small, can help to motivate your new leader onto further triumphs in the future. The fact that their success is recognised will also show that they are valued and appreciated in the workplace and that the work they do matters. This will help to instil a positive feeling in the workplace and strengthen their loyalty to your organisation. 

Whilst celebrating successes is important, it’s also crucial to discuss any areas where new managers haven’t been successful. When failure occurs, you are given the opportunity to talk through this with them, discuss how it could have been handled better and establish critical takeaways they can learn from and use to help them succeed the next time.

Don’t set them your new leaders up for failure. Instead, set them up for success and you’ll have a much lower turnover rate of staff in leadership roles and leaders who can lead with courage, confidence and positivity.



Insight from Christopher Alcock

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