Four skills new managers need to succeed


Posted: Jun 11, 2018

By: Nicole Laidler


Four skills new managers need to succeed


In an ideal world, new managers would step into their roles with all the skills and support needed to get the job done. Unfortunately, statistics show that all too often this isn’t the case.

Just consider the following findings:

  • More than 60 per cent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years on the job.
  • Only 34 per cent report receiving any mentoring.
  • Only 31 per cent report receiving any coaching.
  • More than half of people surveyed say they were not prepared for their first manager role.

Source: The Ken Blanchard Companies, New Managers Aren’t Getting The Training They Need

The implications for business are significant. It’s no secret that poor management undermines morale, negatively effects performance, and erodes company culture.

In general, new managers sometimes underperform because they face a daunting combination of a steep learning curve and tremendous pressure to succeed, says Western Continuing Studies (WCS) managerial communications instructor, Rob Way.
“They may have graduated with strong functional skills in their technical field, but have never managed a project or team, dealt with upper management, or presented themselves or their ideas professionally to others,” he notes.

New managers often make two crucial mistakes, adds Danny Morrison, who teaches business strategy, finance and accounting at WCS: they fail to clearly articulate the organizational purpose, and they try to make friends.

“If people understand how they add value to the firm, they are naturally more motivated,” he explains. “And while you need to be friendly, a manager’s goal is to understand how people fit into the team and how to bring out the best in them.”


Four things new managers can do to help them succeed


Strengthen your communication skills

Effective communication is a key component of managerial success. “Some new managers may believe they are already strong communicators,” says Way. “However, communicating is about so much more than just words. It’s also about reading body language, asking relevant questions, and becoming better at being a ‘quick study’ of situations so that your chosen words are the right ones.”

In addition to honing their people skills, managers need to pay attention to their business writing. “So much communication in business today is done through email or online texting and chatting,” Way says.

Learning how to effectively convey thoughts in writing helps managers excel in developing effective presentations or proposals, he adds. “The writing process requires a discipline, rigour, and way of thinking that has many benefits beyond being more articulate with the words you put on paper.”


Set benchmarks to achieve long-term goals

Morrison says new managers may struggle to feel a sense of accomplishment as they work towards achieving long-term organizational goals. He suggests breaking large tasks down into smaller chunks, and setting 30, 60 and 90-day benchmarks. “Get people on your side and celebrate the small wins,” he suggests. “That will create momentum that you can build on.”


Build a relationship with your boss

As a new manager, understanding and communicating what is expected from your team isn’t enough. You also need to manage your relationship with your boss. That means understanding what senior executives expect so you can ask for support from above.

“If you have an excellent boss, they will offer to help you develop. If you don’t it can be a challenge,” notes Morrison. “The important thing is to get to know them and to nurture that relationship as well.”


Look for opportunities to learn

Of course, not everyone is born with a natural ability to be an effective leader. But management skills can be learned, and first-time managers should seek opportunities to enhance their skills.

At Western Continuing Studies, we offer two programs designed to empower managers with the knowledge, strategies, and techniques needed to succeed. Our newly redesigned Professional Certificate in Business Management is an eight-course program that covers a wide range of management theories combined with real-world applications, while our new Business Essentials is a six-course program for those interested in accelerated learning. 

“WCS courses focus on the practical areas where managers need to excel,” says Way. “Much of what I teach is aimed at helping students acquire new knowledge that can immediately be practised and applied in their jobs. This helps to develop confidence, which in turn leads to the likelihood of greater success in other aspects of work and life in general.”

In addition to gaining knowledge through a top-notch curriculum and instructors, Morrison says students benefit from meeting likeminded individuals in the classroom. “It’s a very friendly environment where everyone wants to learn and develop their skills.”


Get the skills to manage effectively

Business Essentials

Learn to balance people management with task management and achieve business goals.

This accelerated certificate consisting of six workshops will help develop the competencies essential to achieve success in a management role.  You will develop and practice skills in six cross-functional areas of management

Collaborative Conflict Resolution
Foundations of Financial Management
Performance Management and Communication
Project Management Basics
Strategic Planning
The Effective Leader


Business Management

Now just eight courses!  This professional certificate program is designed to empower you with the knowledge, strategies and techniques you need to deal with the real challenges faced at work each and every day.

Four required courses

Business Administration
Business Finance
Business Strategy
Managerial Communications

Plus four elective courses.



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