Supporting First-Time Managers To Succeed

“One of the most exciting and – sometimes anxiety-producing transitions – comes when you move from being an individual contributor to becoming a manager”

Often, based on their strong performance, individual contributors are promoted and appointed as first-time managers, sometimes called first-level managers. When the appointee fails to adjust to management responsibilities; both the individual and the organization incur human and financial costs.

Such costs for the organization may include above-the-line costs (recruitment, selection, and assessment costs) and below-the-line costs (low morale of the now leaderless team, opportunity costs during the vacancy, and the time taken for the replacement to settle in).

Most first-time managers do not realize how distinctly, management differs from individual work. Hampered by misconceptions, they often stumble in making successful transitions and potentially, jeopardize their careers.

“Given the difficulty of this leadership transition, it is surprising how little attention organizations have paid to the challenges that first-time managers face”.

These challenges are exacerbated by the impact of the COVID pandemic where employees work from home remotely or a hybrid of remote and office-based work, thus requiring the additional skills of managing remote teams.

In most organizations, first-level managers have the majority of people in the organization reporting to them. Despite the importance of their role; first-level managers are the least trained and least invested in, but are the connection between top-level strategy and execution on the frontline.

How can companies support the development of first-time managers?

Be honest about the challenges and provide support.

One way to support them is to help them anticipate the challenges and to understand the learning curve required. Help them shift away from the mindset that success is ‘all about me to the new reality that success is about working with and through others. Give them regular feedback on how they are doing.

Tailor development to specific needs.

An impactful way to support them is to customize development, tailored to the individual’s needs. Customization takes into account the variety of strengths and areas for development that individual first-time managers may have. Individual coaching is highly effective in assisting first-time managers to make successful transitions.

Create learning networks

Here first-time managers would be able to share stories of success or failure; talk about what they have learned and be a support system for one another. Learning networks also provide the opportunity for senior managers to mentor the learning networks


First-time managers are your largest population of leaders. They lead a majority of people in your organization. They are at the first stage of developing a leadership pipeline. Supporting their development and helping them to succeed would lead to their higher job satisfaction and increased commitment to the organization. In addition, their success adds to the bench strength of potential leaders within the organization.

Should you wish to explore how Change Partners can assist in increasing your organization’s leadership bench strength; contact SUNDRA NAIDOO at Change Partners Coaching:

  • Amy Sue Jen: ‘How New Managers Can Send the Right Leadership Signals”
  • Linda A Hill: ‘Becoming the Boss”
  • Centre for Creative Leadership: ‘How to Set your First-time Managers Up for Success


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Willie Snyman
Life & Business Coach

I have a passion for people and help them getting from survival mode to significance. Real turn-around happens when people really listen, really engage to understand. I believe financial wellness is intertwined with physical and mental health. I help you to be the best you can be, and to get rid of the fears keeping you back to experience more happiness.  

My favorite author is Stephen Covey saying: “I am not a product of my circumstances; I'm a product of my decisions."

How does my career experience add value to what I bring to client relationships?

I have more than 40 years of experience in sales, marketing, business and leadership development. I understand the challenges to grow a business with diverse cultures. I focus on personal mastery, conflict resolution, enhancing team performance, leadership, relationship and change management. I use the insights of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming), brain profiling and the enneagram to maximise your ability to deal more effectively with life and business matters.

What qualifies me for my work with Change Partners?

I have various degrees and certifications which include the fields of Psychology, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Senior Management, Financial Planning and Mediation. I do frequent workshops on financial wellness, stress and anxiety, entrepreneurship, value-based goal setting and emotional intelligence.    

Comments from clients and colleagues: “Willie is a systematic thinker who naturally builds bridges and connects the various elements. He is a rainmaker and experienced in enhancing business growth propositions. Willie has the natural ability to build relationships, remarkable people skills, and a breadth of relationships that is second to none”


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