Buddy to boss: how to support new managers

Whether dealing with imposter syndrome or navigating the awkwardness that comes with going from peer to superior, becoming a manager for the first time is one of the biggest shifts in working life and it comes with a lot of big changes and big feelings.

Learn how to embrace the transition and become the best boss you can be.

Buddy to boss: how to support new managers

Making the leap from colleague to manager is probably the most significant transition for anyone in their working career. It can be a change that brings up a lot of feelings, good and bad, and it’s easy for imposter syndrome to creep in. 

Many of us know from experience how transformative a fantastic boss can be for morale, wellbeing, confidence, and productivity. A great manager can be the difference between a positive and a negative work experience; it’s no exaggeration to say they can make or break teams with 70% of the variance in team engagement determined solely by a person’s manager. According to studies by Gallup, when managers are equipped with the training to support their people every day, their team are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life, and six times as likely to strongly agree that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.

Armed with both the anecdotal and statistical evidence that tells just how important managers are to the ecosystem of any organisation, why are middle managers so often overlooked when it comes to investment in the training and support they need to become brilliant bosses?

None of us are born fully formed people managers

Many of the skills we need to successfully manage people are not innate qualities, they’re skills that can be taught, such as coaching, structured goal setting, or practising emotional intelligence. When new managers feel their progression is being invested in with proper training and open communication, stepping up to management is less likely to feel like a burden and more like a development opportunity.


It’s a big change with big feelings involved

If you’ve been a manager for a while, it might be easy to forget how jarring the transition can be for a first-time manager. It’s a big change which can bring up a lot of feelings that can be tricky to navigate. Offering support, a toolbox, a willingness to train, and an empathetic ear can do wonders to help people feel heard and supported.

Collaborating and building trust

Clear communication and collaboration are essential on all sides for new managers. New managers should be encouraged to check in regularly with their new team members. Further, they should be encouraged to find a structure for these regular check-ins, making them a collaborative space to air any concerns or queries, set goals, navigate challenges and celebrate successes. This is where coaching comes in too. Ask questions – how do you like to be managed? What are your pet peeves? How do you think our dynamic can work best to achieve your goals?


The role of leadership

Leaders, those managing the new managers, also have a big role to play. This is a time to guide, support, and relate. Share your experiences of becoming a new manager – how did you set boundaries and overcome difficult situations? How did you cope with imposter syndrome when starting out? What training and toolkits might be useful for your new manager to be armed with? Make it clear that they’re being held and heard. 

When organisations invest in their supervisors and middle managers, the effects on the business are transformative. DHL Express understood this; we worked with them to devise and embed a Certified International Manager programme which recognised their powerhouse supervisory team, providing them with a professional development programme which not only gave them invaluable professional skills development but also ensured that people felt valued and invested in.

If you’re looking for more ways to support new managers, NKD’s bespoke solutions can help transform your teams. Get in touch to find out how.