Becoming a First Time Manager: What Kind of Skills are Needed?
It can be confusing knowing where to begin when thrust into a management role.
Our Managing for the First Time workshop is a perfect way to hone the people skills necessary for anyone taking on a role of a manager, at whatever experience level.
In this blog, Happy's Senior Facilitator Paul Gapper takes us through some of his most insightful experiences on this workshop, as well as a few simple but effective management skills.
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People who attend the Managing for the First Time workshop typically include those with an ambition to become a manager; or new managers, who don’t know where to start. More surprising is that we will also have more experienced managers who have never received training in how to approach management in the first place: leadership, one-to-ones, constructive feedback or delegation.
One of the reasons for this is that people are sometimes promoted on their technical ability from the original role rather than their people skills. (The two are actually such different competencies that companies such as Lufthansa, Porsche, Siemens, IBM, BT and Microsoft have created two tracks for managers to take.)
But what are those people skills?
If I had been asked, when I left school, what a manager did, I might have said that they give orders and get cross when people don’t do what they say. And if that sounds like an exaggeration, a recent participant described it to me as, ‘Standing confidently and telling people what to do.’
One of my favourite attendees on the Managing for the First Time workshop was a woman who had a problem with her one-to-ones. When people she supervised would come into the meeting with a problem, she would suggest a solution, which they would then reject. She would get annoyed with them, knowing, from her experience, that it would work. They would reject it again, and on, and on.
We talked about coaching. The ability of the manager to listen to what the person has to say, to ask clarifying questions, and then to ask the person themselves what the solution might be. The course was run over two days, with time in between to practise the skills. When she came back, she said that her one-to-ones had improved immeasurably. Her supervisees would bring a problem, she would ask about it and then give them a chance to solve it for themselves – which they would do. She also said that at home her husband had asked about a family event coming up.
‘What do you think we need to do?’ she asked.
He listed the tasks out on his fingers.
‘And how much of that could you do?’ she asked.
‘Oh, I could do all of that,’ he said.
She was amazed. Normally it would be her who was running around trying to organise things.
The importance of two-way communication
That’s all very well, a new manager might say. But what if I must tell them to stop doing something?
It has always struck me, how many of our workshops, on the People side at Happy, include some element of letting other people know what we think or feel. Assertiveness, Constructive Feedback, Conversations that Matter, even Time Management (how to say no).
The good news is that our simple model of listening, asking questions and challenging the person to come up with an answer can even be effective here. I don’t know about you, but in most cases, if I am stepping outside the line at work (failing to deliver work on time, turning up late) I probably know what I need to do, and provided I am talked to in the right way, I am open to someone bringing it up with me.
‘I notice you were late three times last week. What happened?’ ‘Okay. So, what do you need to do?’
When I have asked experienced managers how many constructive feedback conversations are like this, they usually say about 90%.
If people are not aware of the impact of what they are doing, we could explain it to them.
‘I notice you were late three times last week, it meant we couldn’t start our meetings on time.’
Then we can still offer them the chance to create the solution.
Of course, not every conversation goes as smoothly as we would like it to and there may be situations where we struggle to know what to do.
What I have always enjoyed about facilitating training courses is that it gives people a chance to talk with people in the same situation and, together, to try out the skills and reflect on them. On the course, we have a chance to share what works and what doesn’t. People find their own solutions to the issues they have brought along. Sometimes all you need is to know that you are not the only one.
At Happy, we believe there are simple skills that will help all managers to have more productive (and happier!) relationships with their colleagues. On the Managing for the First Time workshop we’ll be discussing more about what they might be.
- 4 Ways to Improve How You Receive Feedback — Being able to receive and respond appropriately to feedback is an extremely important skill. Could you improve the way you do so?
- Improve Collaboration for a More Productive Workplace — Active listening and collaborative discussion are essential to productivity in the workplace.
- How to Build Trust and Credibility in the Workplace — How can a new manager begin building confidence in their team? This blog explores some of the important aspects to think about.
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Paul is a Masters qualified trainer with experience in interpersonal skills, work skills and management training. He has worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors for over fifteen years. Paul has a Distinction in the Institute of Personnel Development Training Certificate and the teacher-training certificate for Mindfulness-Based Approaches from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. In 2017, Paul was a Finalist for the Learning Professional of the Year at the 2017 Learning Awards.
Testimonials from happy Customers
Lynda Marshall7 days ago
Really informative and easy to follow instructions.
Philip Abraham8 days ago
The exercises were really well designed and interesting. I learnt a lot, and am looking forward to part 2.
Hannah Wilson16 days ago
I really enjoyed the training.
Trusted Customer19 days ago
Clear and concise training
Esther Dibiaocha23 days ago
Very good and educative. Quite interactive with so much to learn in a day.
Trusted Customer23 days ago
Sometimes I felt it was going too fast. Otherwise excellent training. I would definitely recommend Happy
Claire23 days ago
Excellent course, good balance of participation - would highly recommend
Anna Whitton27 days ago
Well organised, effective training offer delivered in a good environment. We are already using the tools that we learnt
Ketsela Betru27 days ago
I took two online trainings : Stress Management for Managers and Resilience and Wellbeing at work by your organization. The trainings were lead by Mr Paul. In both cases,...
Trusted Customer27 days ago
We were told that we could ask questions after the training. I did ask a question, but I didn't hear back. Now that it's taking so long to reply, I fear that I am forgett...
Trusted Customer27 days ago
I was kept engaged through out and there was lots of opportunity to ask questions and practice what I was learning. I feel more confident now.
Cheryl Browne29 days ago
Everything from the welcome, the venue and the course delivery was of an excellent quality.