How to Help First-Time Managers Succeed with the People Activation Model

Posted in Best Practice Research Thoughts & Culture

60% Failure.

 

Would you take that bet?

 

Regardless of your answer, it’s a bet we take every day. According to CEB, a full 60% of new managers fail within the first 24 months.

 

...and, when a manager fails, the impact to your business isn’t just the 1.5-2x salary it will cost to replace him or her, but also the morale hit to the team he or she was leading.

 

Gallup found that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units, and 1 in 2 employees have even left their job to get away from a poor manager.

 

...and remote and hybrid work only makes first-time manager success harder.

man standing behind flat screen computer monitor

According to the State of One-on-Ones Report, remote managers find it twice as hard to encourage collaboration and hit team goals. They also struggle with retention challenges at 6x higher rates than their onsite counterparts...and that’s for experienced managers!

 

Walking into a first-time manager role in a hybrid or remote environment can be a recipe for disaster.

 

With so much at stake, how can we improve the success rate of first-time managers and get them up to speed faster? 

 

Glad you asked!

 

We spent the past several years interviewing thousands of employees, speaking with *real-life* HR thought leaders, and studying alongside behavioral scientists to discover how to use the science of influence, persuasion, and motivation to make employee transitions into management quick and painless...and maybe even a little fun.

 

The result?

 

The People Activation Model.

 

(Want to know more about the model? You can read all about it here.)

The 4 Components of People Activation

Since there usually aren’t months set aside for training, first-time manager transitions often come with an element of ‘trial by fire’. To increase your chances for success, you need your new manager to be able to complete all of their necessary trainings and responsibilities at the right time, and the science shows that this timely, meaningful action only happens when you have 4 specific components in play at the same time:

three people sitting in front of table laughing together

Engagement

Ok, we all know people need to be engaged in what they’re doing to be effective, but how do we get them engaged and keep them on task (especially when they’re trying to handle a whole new kind of workload)?

 

New managers are often overwhelmed, trying to stay on top of everything while juggling a lot of different tasks and communications, so stale, generic-looking messages will be quickly ignored under a pile of other priorities.

 

Making your messages more unique, personalized, and engaging will make it easier for your name manager to distinguish what’s important from what isn’t.

 

Here are a couple simple ways to make that happen:

 

  • Don’t just hand your new manager a transition checklist - Set up a mentorship program with an existing manager or someone in the new department to help make the process more educational and engaging.
  • Personalize the experience by delivering a transition program that’s relevant for their department, location, team and role.
  • Help your new manager understand the bigger picture of how they’ll fit into and impact the entire organization in their new role. 

 

Remember, an employee transitioning into their first management role can be under a lot of stress dealing with all of the changes and new responsibilities - Make it easier on them by creating a more engaging process that’s tailored to them, and they’ll be much more likely to succeed.

two women sitting beside table and talking

Nudges

Most of us can’t remember what’s on the shopping list, let alone remember all of the responsibilities we have now that we’re a manager.

 

Going from self-responsibility to managing a team is a big shift that requires a lot of mental energy!

 

...and that’s why nudges are so great. They’re helpful, bite-sized, and relevant communications, delivered at the right time, with the right information. 

 

Sending nudge reminders means that your new manager doesn’t have to mentally keep track of all of the steps and tasks associated with the transition process while trying to juggle all of their new responsibilities - They just get a gentle reminder of what they need to do, right when they need to do it.

 

Try this:

 

  • Send a reminder to your first-time manager to introduce themselves to their new team 1 week before they move into their new role.
  • “Nudge” mentors and/or buddies to check in on your new manager at regular intervals to make sure everything is going well.
  • Gently remind your first-time manager of helpful trainings or learning modules when they have a free spot in their calendar.
  • Send relevant sections of any relevant transition checklists at the appropriate times (instead of sending the entire checklist at once).

 

From our research, the top 2 reasons why employees didn’t complete HR tasks were that the reminders were buried under other tasks and notifications (47%) and that they came at the wrong time (41%).

 

By sending timely, relevant nudges to your new manager you greatly increase the odds of their success by helping them take all of the necessary actions at the right time.

person holding black iphone 4

Ease 

Friction comes in handy when you’re trying to light a match, but it will absolutely kill your first-time manager transition process.

 

Every extra link someone has to click, or login someone has to remember, is another opportunity for someone to get distracted or give up on the process. (...43% of hybrid workers said they gave up on a task in the last year because they couldn’t remember their password.)

 

Just like in all other areas of life, if you want someone to do something, make it easy for them to do it:

 

  • Use their messenger of choice (Does they prefer Slack? Email? Text?)
  • Reduce the number of different system log-ins (Can you text a direct link to content instead of sending them to a system?)
  • Only send relevant sections of documents and learning modules at a time (instead of sending the whole document at once) to prevent overwhelm.
  • Make each task easy to complete (e.g. use a One-click button to acknowledge a request or to send a pre-written introduction message to their new team.)

 

Every step you take to remove friction, helps your first-time manager get one step closer to completing all of the necessary tasks for a successful transition!

woman and man sitting in front of monitor

Connection

A jump to a management position can be scary. With many of your new manager’s friends becoming their subordinates, it can be easy for work relationships to become awkward or for new managers to feel alone.

 

Engagement, Nudges, and Ease are great tools, but Connection is what ties them all together and makes your first-time manager feel confident that they have what it takes to succeed.

 

  • If you don’t already have them in place, set up mentor/mentee programs or buddy systems, and send nudge reminders to mentors to ensure they’re keeping up with your new manager to improve connection and morale.
  • Encourage members of your management or leadership team to reach out and welcome your first-time manager and invite them to lunches or other appropriate events.
  • Facilitate moments of connection between your first-time manager and their direct reports.

 

No one wants to feel like an island - Be sure you’re involving your leadership and management teams in the transition process so your first-time manager feels welcome and supported.

man in black shirt elbow bumping with woman in a restaurant

...Oh, one more thing.

The 4 tactics we covered are incredibly useful, but if you really want to hit the next-level of employee-to-manager transition success, they have to be done the right way.

 

Yep. For these elements to work most effectively, you have to engage each element with your new manager in mind! (We call this the Human-Centric wrapper).

 

So, put yourself in your first-time manager’s shoes by asking yourself these questions:

 

  • What is your employee going through mentally and feeling emotionally as they make their transition into management? 
  • What are their potential fears or concerns - and what would help alleviate them?
  • Are they still being asked to fulfill any of their old responsibilities through the transition, and how much additional workload (via trainings, etc.) can they handle?
  • What questions do they have and support do they need at each stage of the transition process?

 

Your new managers will be able to feel the difference when you’ve built your employee-to-manager journey with them in mind. You’ll help them get up to speed faster and feel more confident and comfortable along the way.

 

Remember: You don’t have to settle for 60% odds of failure. Use the People Activation Model and unlock new levels of manager success. 

Want to see results faster?

We got you.

 

We built our whole platform around this very psychology and the 4 elements of People Activation to allow you to build and deploy effective human-centric journeys from day one. 

Watch the quick, 5-minute video below to see Enboarder in action, and find out why our customers love to use Enboarder for their Internal Moves as much as you’re about to!

Whether it’s onboarding, learning and development, change management, diversity and inclusion, or employee transitions, we’ve reimagined HR. 

Come join the People Activation Revolution