First Time Managers at Risk

May 11, 2004

New managers are at risk of failing in their first year due to a lack of support from their employers.

So says career and management consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison, which has just released a new study on how first time managers perform in their first year to 18 months.

The US-research showed that staff promoted to first time management positions had a 40 per cent chance of failure.

Jason Murray, the NSW general manager of LHH, told that the research was just as relevant to the Australian business scene. He said that many first time managers struggled to make the shift from a “follower” mindset to that of a leader.

The fast pace of business life today also didn’t allow the first time manager the time to “evolve” in the new job before having to deliver results. Mr Murray said first time managers hired from outside a firm as well as those that were promoted from within face the challenges of taking on a leadership role.

However, those promoted from within a company face the added challenge of establishing authority over people who were once on the same level.

In both cases, it was “mission critical” that companies not leave it to the first time manager to figure out a management plan on their own. Mr Murray said companies needed to spend 30 per cent to 40 per cent of a first time manager’s salary on training in their first six months on the job.

“It is a huge cost risk for companies who do not do this,” Mr Murray said. “It really is mission critical to ensure the new manager is supported.”

“A new manager is normally under enormous pressure (to perform) and is putting in a lot of effort. Companies will pay for not supporting that person.”

He said that new managers needed to understand that their promotion represented “a serious transition” that required structured learning and
development planning.

LLH advised that training should be practical and designed to help the new manager develop their own action plan to ensure they are productive and able to handle the increased expectations placed on them by the company.

LLH has designed a training program to help new managers divided into three main parts:

– Outcomes – clarifying expectations, establishing credibility and forming alliances within the office

– Information – how the manager should gather the information needed to create an action plan that creates results immediately

– Strategy – developing an action plan and identifying ways to measure these results against the bottom line

– Results – revising the action plan to achieve long-term goals.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Send job hunting and workplace questions to

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