It is estimated that more than two million millennials step into their first leadership role each year—and that first year is critical. Research by Harvard business professor Linda A. Hill shows that the skills and habits people adopt in their first year of management can be a foundation for success—or an obstacle to it—for the rest of their career.
In a new article for Training Industry Magazine, “Why Do We Wait to Train Our Managers?” leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard share that companies rarely think about providing training to someone making the transition into their first leadership position until the individual actually settles into their new role—or later. For example, the average tenure of people enrolling in their new First-time Manager training program is two years.
And research by Jack Zenger of leadership consultancy Zenger Folkman has found that most managers don’t receive training until they have been in a leadership role for almost ten years!
This is much too long of a delay—and it underestimates just how difficult it is to manage the work of others. As a result, CEB research has found that 60 percent of new managers underperform in their first two years—with negative consequences for both new manager and direct reports.
That’s a shame, say the Blanchards, considering how much better things could be for everyone if leaders would receive the training they need when they step into a new job on day one.
So Why Do We Wait?
Why don’t organizations train new leaders earlier in their careers? The Blanchards believe it may be a holdover from the past, when training was cost prohibitive and organizations would invest only in people who were definitely going to remain with the company. Although this may have made some sense in the past when training was a two-or three-day classroom event, the arrival of blended and virtual options has dramatically reduced the cost involved. Their advice?
“Don’t hold your best people back—in fact, don’t hold anyone back. Why not train everybody who desires it? One thing we’ve learned in working with clients is that the people who raise their hand and ask to be included in leadership training are the people who end up being the best leaders in your organization. Show everyone you value them and are willing to invest in their development.
“We can do better than allowing 60 percent of our new managers to underperform. With inclusive policies that identify and provide people with the training they need, we can greatly improve this statistic to the benefit of new managers, their direct reports, and organizations as a whole.”
You can access the complete article from Training Industry Magazine here. For more information on the Blanchard approach to first-time manager training, take a look at the extended article “Essential Skills Every First-Time Manager Should Master”.