How to manage your new first-time leaders

Posted in : HR Updates on 3 May 2017
Craig Thompson
Vibrant Talent Development
Issues covered:

In this video, Craig Thompson discusses how HR practitioners and businesses can support first-time leaders to help them succeed in their role, the importance of a clear job specification, induction and training on the path to creating a successful leader.


How can HR practitioners and businesses support first time leaders and help them to succeed in their role?

Identify, first of all, what we can do as a business in order to support these people!

What is important is identifying those with a passion for supporting and developing and managing people. Too often when we appoint people to leadership roles, we appoint them because they've succeeded in a previous position, but that was maybe a technical or a hands-on position or an operational role, and they were really good at that, but this is a completely different job now. And what we do is we promote them because they've been really good at one thing, but what we're promoting them to is a completely different job that requires a whole different set of competencies and behaviours in order to succeed.

A clear job specification can pave the road to successful leadership

What we should do is actually have a really clear job specification and person specification for the type of profile that's going to succeed in this position. Identify those people who are passionate and who have ideas as well about leading teams successfully.

When we've identified and we've appointed the right person, we need to make sure that they have a job description and they understand what their responsibilities are. We also need to set objectives for them and clear objectives that they understand what is going to result in success for them over 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.

Induction, training and development is fundamental for successful leaders

The next thing is inducting them into the role and training them for the role. That's a step that's often missed. We hire this team leader. We assume they're going to be great because of the job they did previously, and we don't offer them any training or development. We also don't support them and we don't coach them.

We maybe think it's better for them if we just take a backseat now and let them get on with things. But actually, a lot of the time that's why new team leaders feel like they're drowning because there is no interaction with them to find out how they're getting on or what they're struggling with. So we need to induct them. We need to train them. We need to coach and support them through problems that they're experiencing as well.

Create successful leaders by embedding learning into the organisational culture

What we can also do is embed in our culture an action learning process, a support network almost between all of our team leaders. So if all of our of team leaders are able to sit down on a monthly basis and talk about problems or challenges that they're encountering, then they're able to share amongst each other. Potentially another team leader has encountered that problem before. They're able to share what actions they took and how they succeeded in those circumstances. So we should have a support network amongst the team leaders as well.

So basically, what we can do for those new team leaders is actually everything that we want them to do for their new team members. We always forget that. It's a really simple thing, but we ask them to train and coach and support members of their team and monitor their performance, and we've appointed them their team leader and it's something that's completely new to them. But we don't do any of that for them.

If we truly want to help and nurture new leaders, we need to get the basics right to make this possible.

This article is correct at 03/05/2017

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Craig Thompson
Vibrant Talent Development

The main content of this article was provided by Craig Thompson. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)7982 7282 10 or email

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