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3 Key Components to Supercharge Line Management Training


line management training, line manager training, training for line managers


The transition from an individual contributor to a new line manager is one of the most challenging shifts, requiring a new mindset and new skills.[1] The pressure on line managers to drive performance and maintain team morale can be significant, often without adequate training or support. Five main factors contribute to the transition challenges faced by new managers.


  1. Behavioural and Value-Based Changes: Transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager requires a significant shift in behaviour and values. New managers must value managerial work rather than just tolerate it, which involves planning, coaching, and directing others.

  2. Mindset Shift: High-performing individual contributors often struggle to let go of their previous tasks and take on managerial responsibilities. This reluctance can lead to ineffective management practices.

  3. Increased Complexity: As managers move up the pipeline, the complexity of their roles increases. They need to develop new skills and adapt to broader organisational challenges, which can be overwhelming without proper guidance and training.

  4. Lack of Preparation: Many organisations fail to adequately prepare individuals for managerial roles. Without proper line manager training, new managers are ill-equipped to handle their new responsibilities.

  5. Inadequate Ongoing Support: Organisations that do not provide ongoing support and development for new managers see higher failure rates. Continuous learning and mentorship are crucial for the success of new managers.


By understanding these underlying causes, organisations can better prepare and support their new managers, helping them overcome these challenges and succeed in their roles.


To learn more about the top skills line managers need to succeed, read this blog.


Developing Effective Line Management Training: 3 Key Components


Our experience shows that for maximum impact, employees need a different mix of development approaches at each career stage. The right mix for line managers helps foster real learning transfer and effective teams and includes: 

  1. Diagnostics

  2. Skills training

  3. Sense-making with others


1. Diagnostics


Moving to a line management role is a significant step that can bring uncertainties about one’s abilities, particularly given the substantial change in behaviours and values required. To help new managers navigate these challenges, it is beneficial to remove some of the guesswork by providing them with light-touch feedback on the areas they need to focus on.


Initially, this can be achieved through 180-degree feedback, where the new line manager reflects on their own managerial strengths and areas for development, supplemented by feedback from their own manager. This method is often a less vulnerable starting point.


Once settled into the role, wider 360-degree feedback, including insights from direct reports, can be instrumental in further refining new managers’ behaviours.

If time and budget allow, role plays with feedback from trained observers can add further depth to the feedback process. It is rare to receive feedback on handling coaching or difficult conversations with direct reports. Role plays provide an excellent opportunity to explore different approaches to such situations and to understand the impact of one’s reactions on others.


2. Skills Training


Line managers benefit from targeted training in essential management skills. Programmes for line managers should include a structured learning element that covers key management skills, ensuring they are well-equipped to lead their teams effectively. As a minimum, training should cover these 5 top skills for new managers:


1. Building Trust. Building trust is essential for effective teams, fostering collaboration and safety in sharing ideas. High-trust organisations outperform low-trust ones by 286% in total return to shareholders.[2] For new managers, trust establishes authority and a positive first impression.

2. Providing Clear Direction. Clear direction aligns teams and boosts productivity. Employees who understand their role are 70% more engaged. [3] For new managers, this skill prevents confusion and ensures everyone knows what is expected.

3. Motivating Others. Motivation impacts productivity and job satisfaction. Engaged employees are 27% more likely to report excellent performance. [4] For new managers, understanding motivation helps keep the team engaged and reduces turnover.

4. Performance Management. Effective performance management drives improvement and goal achievement. Clear, constructive feedback can improve performance by up to 39%. [5] New managers need to address performance issues sensitively and constructively.

5. Delegation Skills. Delegation boosts productivity and team development. It fosters ownership and empowerment.[6] For new managers, delegating tasks shows trust in their team and allows focus on strategic responsibilities.


In addition to live workshops and e-learning modules, it can be helpful to provide new line managers with practical mini activities to help turn newly gained knowledge from workshops into applied skills. 


Mini-Activities


1. Building Trust

  • Be transparent and consistent. Follow through on your commitments and admit when you're wrong

  • Organise a team meeting to discuss and identify each team member's top 3 strengths, and use this understanding to delegate tasks appropriately

  • Create a safe space where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of repercussions. Act on the feedback to show that their opinions are valued 2. Providing Clear Direction

  • Use visual aids like roadmaps and timelines to communicate project goals and milestones

  • Set up regular check-ins to monitor progress and address any obstacles promptly

  • Offer clear and consistent direction to the team by setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) 3. Motivating Others

  • Get to know your team members' individual motivations and recognise their achievements publicly

  • Organise a brainstorming session, as a team, to identify upcoming changes, their associated challenges, and collaboratively find suitable solutions and implementation plans

  • Provide personalised guidance to help employees navigate their challenges, ensuring they feel supported and understood 4. Performance Management

  • Use the SMART goals framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to set clear objectives

  • Coach your team members through the problem-solving process by asking questions rather than providing direct answers, promoting independent thinking and decision-making

  • Reframe difficult conversations as learning conversations. Show curiosity about what has gone wrong and how it can be avoided in future rather than getting caught up in attributing blame 5. Delegation Skills

  • Start by delegating smaller tasks and gradually increase the complexity. Trust but verify by setting check-in points

  • Organise a team meeting to discuss and identify each team member's top 3 strengths, and use this understanding to delegate tasks appropriately

  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix (urgent vs. important) to prioritise tasks and delegate where possible


3. Sense-Making with Others


People management comes with numerous additional challenges, as team members bring their emotions, expectations, strengths, and weaknesses. These are met by the new line manager's own emotions, expectations, strengths, and weaknesses. On top of this, most of us don't like difficult conversations and want to be liked. Balancing these dynamics while trying to deliver good results through the team can become stressful and overwhelming.


Making sense with others of the situations that a new line manager faces can be invaluable for new line managers. These interactions can help highlight not only what is happening in a given situation but also what is going on within the new line manager themselves—their values, fears, and hopes. Understanding that the challenges they face are not unique can be reassuring, too. Conversations with others can normalise these challenges and make them easier to handle, reducing the manager's sense of isolation.


Additionally, regular personal reflections can accelerate learning and development for new managers, helping them navigate their roles more effectively. It’s not the situation itself but the learning a new line manager extracts from it through reflection that generates the development. 


Effective forms of collaborative learning include:


  • Action Learning Groups: Provide access to regular action learning group to offer a peer coaching environment that provides a safe space for exploration and reflection, driving participants towards taking concrete actions.

  • Coaching: Provide personalised guidance to help managers navigate their challenges, ensuring they feel supported and understood.

  • Mentoring: Pair new managers with experienced mentors who can offer advice, share experiences, and provide support during this transition.

  • Manager Support: Establish regular check-ins and feedback sessions with senior managers to ensure new managers receive ongoing support and guidance.

  • Personal Reflection: Encourage managers to regularly reflect on their experiences, helping them to learn and grow from each situation they encounter.


To learn more about how to handle these challenges and develop your managers further, download our comprehensive 'High-Impact Development Programs Handbook' from Talupp.



Transitioning to a line manager’s role comes with a unique set of challenges, but with the right preparation and support, organisations can help line managers navigate these successfully. By focusing on light touch diagnostics, structured skills training, and collaborative learning with peers, new line managers can develop the competencies they need to thrive. Implementing high-impact development programmes that balance these elements can significantly enhance a manager's ability to lead effectively, foster a positive team culture, and drive performance.


Citations

  1. Charan, R., Drotter, S., & Noel, J. (2011). The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

  2. Zak, P. J. (2016). "The Neuroscience of Trust." Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust

  3. Garton, E., & Mankins, M. (2015). "Time, Talent, Energy." Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2015/12/time-talent-energy

  4. Nohria, N., Groysberg, B., & Lee, L. (2008). "Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model." Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2008/07/employee-motivation-a-powerful-new-model

  5. Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now Gartner. (2013). "Performance Feedback in High-Performing Companies." Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/2535815

  6. Spreitzer, G., & Doneson, D. (2005). "Musings on the Past and Future of Employee Empowerment." In T. Cummings (Ed.), Handbook of Organizational Development.






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