New Manager Tips: 4 Things HR Can Do to Empower First-Time Leaders

new manager tipsManagers are one of the most important factors affecting employee engagement. Yet, according to our research, two-thirds of new managers do not receive manager training.

Unfortunately, hiring and promoting new managers doesn’t mean they are automatically ready to lead. New managers need support and guidance from their managers and HR leaders to help them succeed in their new role.

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In this article, we will outline 4 new manager tips that HR leaders can use to help first-time managers transition into leadership successfully.


1. Help them transition from individual contributor to people leader.

Challenge: One of the biggest hurdles first-time managers face is navigating the transition from an individual contributor to a people manager. Most new managers rise through the ranks because they are outstanding contributors.

But managing people is very different from individual, task-oriented work. It’s less about individual output and more about interpersonal relationships and big-picture thinking. For new managers, it can be easy to slip into a contributor mindset. This can lead to micromanaging employees or forgetting about them altogether.

New Manager Tip: Support new managers in their transition from contributor to people leader from day one by educating them on their role. Help them develop big-picture thinking by focusing on performance management and teaching them how to be effective coaches:

  • Provide ongoing training on coaching best practices
  • Create guidelines for managers to follow and model their leadership after
  • Set expectations for how often managers should be coaching and checking in on employees
  • Clarify organizational performance goals and expectations so managers know what they are aiming for

Coaching is a key driver of employee engagement and satisfaction. In fact, organizations with employees who are coached effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent, compared to those who don’t coach employees.

There is a fine line between coaching and micromanaging. Help your new managers strike the right balance through clear education and training.


2. Clarify expectations for their new role.

Challenge: New managers are often left without training or clear expectations for their new role. This can lead to frustration and disengagement from your managers, which can derail the engagement of the entire team.

Plus, without clear expectations, managers are left to figure out a strategy on their own—a recipe for misalignment with the team and organizational goals.

New Manager Tip: Keep your managers on the right page by setting expectations early and often. Provide ongoing training on their management responsibilities and context for organizational objectives.

  • Provide a job description outlining the manager’s role and job expectations.
  • Clarify performance goals and organizational benchmarks.
  • Outline engagement initiatives and provide context for why the company is focusing on certain standards or projects  
  • Get buy-in from your managers and help them communicate more effectively with their teams.
  • Meet regularly to get progress reports and provide feedback and support.

When managers understand what is expected of them and how their work ties into the big picture, they will be better equipped to lead with transparency and align their work strategically.


3. Teach them how to build authentic relationships.


Challenge: One of the top challenges new managers face is learning how to connect with their employees authentically. Trust is the foundation of a good employee-manager relationship. Without it, managers will less effective at coaching and guiding performance, and engagement among their employees will suffer.

When new managers move up the ranks, they may struggle to find a balance between “friend” and “boss” in their interactions with their employees. This can lead to managers who are afraid to have tough conversations or give constructive feedback (also known as the “boss stigma”).

But without honest conversations and meaningful feedback, employees are left feeling disconnected from their manager and even intimidated by them. The result is a team that feels directionless or micromanaged with no room for growth.

New Manager Tip: Help managers navigate these new interpersonal relationships and dynamics by teaching them how to conduct one-on-ones.

One-on-ones are a great way to build genuine relationships with employees because they give managers a chance to recognize each team member for their individual strengths and contributions and uncover each employee’s specific challenges and goals.

Help managers prioritize time for performance management and feedback in a way that fits their workflow such as:

  • Daily check-ins with each employee via chat or email
  • Weekly 30-minute one-on-ones with each employee
  • Brief shout-outs at team meetings to recognize successes


4. Coach them on giving and receiving feedback.


Challenge: Giving and receiving constructive feedback well drives personal growth and better performance and builds genuine relationships. But giving and receiving feedback can be tough.

New Manager Tip: Instill confidence in your managers by educating them on feedback best practices. Give them tools like engagement surveys to get additional insights and actionable feedback from their teams.

  • Show managers videos of an effective feedback exchange
  • Train them on asking questions and clarifying meaning and intent
  • Develop managers’ skills in setting goals with employees and supporting their efforts
  • Model good feedback from the top down
  • Set expectations for feedback as an organization

By creating a feedback culture from the top down, and coaching your managers on expectations and best practices, you can empower them to understand and manage performance effectively while building stronger trust with their teams.


Management isn’t easy. Set your new managers up for success by providing clear expectations, ongoing training, and genuine support every step of the way. Your managers (and their employees) will thank you for it.



Managers play an important role in improving employee engagement at the individual and team level. Learn how to coach your people leaders with research from our ebook, The Manager Jackpot: Simple HR Solutions for Building Better Bosses.

manager's role in employee engagement

Published July 9, 2020 | Written By Jocelyn Stange