You promoted your best salesperson to sales manager — but something is wrong. The self-motivated sales pro who always surpassed his quota and brought in most of your company’s business seems to be struggling in his new role. Meanwhile, the sales team's performance is suffering, and morale is slumping . . . along with your company's sales.

Excelling at a job doesn't automatically mean you'll excel at supervising others, as the example above illustrates.

If you expect new managers to succeed, make sure they understand the following.

  • HR policies: Familiarize the new manager with the workplace policies he or she will need to enforce. Provide an employee handbook and any other reference materials that will help answer employees' questions.
  • Management systems: Teach the new manager your company’s procedures for handling performance reviews, discipline issues, onboarding new employees and the like.
  • The big picture: Managers must understand how their department fits into the overall functions of the company, each department’s functions and goals, and the company's overall objectives. Share information that helps the new manager grasp the big picture.
  • Time management: Because there are more frequent interruptions, questions and meetings, time management challenges are different for managers than non-managers. Suggest ways the new manager can manage time effectively in the new role, and make sure he or he has the tools to do so.
  • Communication skills: Good communication, both up and down the management chain, is essential. Emphasize the importance of listening to employees, taking their feedback into account, and providing feedback on a regular basis. Clearly communicate your expectations to the new manager to model how they should communicate with their own staff.
  • Goal setting: Set goals for the new manager and lay out timelines for achieving each milestone. Check in with new managers at regular intervals to review progress, answer questions and provide guidance.
  • Personality and work styles: A manager has to motivate many different types of people. Ask new managers to assess their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their team members. Then offer suggestions for how to best motivate each person. For example, some employees are motivated by challenging assignments; others are motivated by praise. Understanding what makes each individual tick helps the new manager delegate more effectively.
  • Conflict resolution: Most people don't enjoy conflict, so resolving conflict is a common challenge for new managers. Suggest conflict resolution strategies that have worked for you in various situations. Let new managers know they can come to you for help if needed. 

How can you instill these skills? The following tools and tactics can help.

  • Mentoring: Every new manager benefits from a mentor who can answer questions, provide moral support and suggest solutions to common problems. Mentors can be other managers in your company or outsiders with management expertise. Holding regular meetings where all of your managers share ideas and best practices benefits every manager, not just new ones.
  • Monitoring: Don't expect a new manager to become a seasoned pro in 30 or 90 days. Those involved in training the new manager should meet with him or her regularly to monitor progress towards goals and give feedback on performance.
  • Training courses: Use offline or online manager training courses to supplement your guidance. Contact your industry association to see what they provide. MindTools, the Emotional Intelligence Training Company, Lynda.com and the American Management Association all offer training courses on management topics.

Learning to be a good manager takes time, and every new manager has to learn from experience. Just be sure you’re there to support the new manager on the journey.

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