• Ansis Lipenitis

How to help new managers to develop leadership skills? [Resource guide included]

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

Team productivity, engagement, and retention depend on the leadership skills of direct managers. The job market is not going to stop getting more competitive as we can observe from the JOLTS data.

To remain competitive and to improve the internal KPIs, companies focus on enhancing the leadership skills of their managers. In this article, we will discuss the most popular solutions.

Low-cost methods

1. Paid e-learning platforms

Several platforms provide premium content for leadership and personal development, including Coursera, Linkedin Learning, Udemy. Your employees can access the content for a monthly fee or pay for separate courses.

2. Internal e-learning platform - an e-learning university

Use learning management systems, including open learning management systems like Moodle or even Google Spreadsheets (does even anyone use it? Yes!) to aggregate an e-learning content library with internal and external resources from Youtube, blogs & media articles, and podcasts. Even if the backbone platform is for free, you will be investing your time in preparing and maintaining the system and the content library yourself. And your time means both direct and opportunity costs.

3. E-learning and coaching chatbots

These are chatbots that are trained by coaches and trainers to provide situational support to your managers on an ad-hoc basis. Compared to an e-learning platform which serves videos on general topics, chatbots help for particular situations and in a conversational manner. In a way, you can compare it as a classroom training vs. working with a coach, but in the digital form. Examples: Pocketconfidant, Astrid.

4. Conversational e-learning platforms

Imagine an e-learning platform and a chatbot having a baby - that's what a conversational e-learning platform is. Wiserstate combines the interactivity of a chatbot with video content recorded and configured by leadership coaches. The user's experience can be compared to a movie where the watcher can impact the events with his choices. Sessions are focused on various challenges that new managers face in their work, e.g., How to address a lower performer in your team, How to get unstuck, How to stay on track with highly competitive co-workers, etc.

5. Paid access to online libraries

Companies use to provide access to paid libraries of particular publishers or platforms of multiple publishers. One such example is the Harvard Business Review online edition.

6. Internal seminars

Larger organizations have various internal interest networks (e.g., psychology network, gender network, health network, book club, etc.) that organize internal seminars and meetups. We would also add round circle meetings to this category. Although you don't have to pay the external service providers' fees, take into consideration the time costs and alternative costs of the internal organizers and participants.

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7. Work as a personal development

You can use various methods to augment the everyday work with personal development activities via various stretch assignments, e.g., rotating the chair of weekly group meetings, adding new responsibilities, assigning a mentee, asking to journal certain thoughts and feelings, etc.

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8. 360* feedback sessions

The frequency varies and with the rise of AI and automation opportunities, we will see the shift from annual or even quarterly feedback sessions to monthly or even instant feedback mechanisms. But the idea remains - gather, share and discuss feedback about the employee and use it as a fuel for growth because an acknowledged problem is a half-solved problem already. Some tools to consider are Impraise, Spidergap.

More expensive methods

9. Group training courses

These can be done online or in person and are usually provided for a group of managers simultaneously. That's one of the best ways how to deliver a large amount of information at scale, and also have group discussions. However, that's usually not enough for two reasons - it's hard to sync the courses schedule with the employee promotions and rotation, and the employees forget a large part of the content soon after the courses end. Therefore usually this method is combined with one or several from the first group.

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10. Internal mentoring

The company assigns a more senior mentor who passes on his know-how and experience to the mentee. Although you usually don't pay extra expenses to the mentor, you need to consider the time and opportunity costs of that person who is often a middle or senior manager. Therefore it is advisable to use the mentor's time for complex situations and in-depth conversations and let the less expensive methods cover the repetitive and more simple types of challenges. Some of the tools to manage the mentoring process (matching, scheduling, tracking and reporting) are Mentornity, MentorcliQ and Mentorink.

11. Internal or external coaching

A leadership coach focuses more on developing the strengths of the coachee from within, less on giving ready answers and sharing his experience, however, quite often coaches use a mix of both methods - coaching (asking questions so that the coachee finds answers from within) with training (sharing advice and experience). The price of the service depends on the frequency of the coaching sessions and the hourly rates of the coach. Good coaches usually charge $100 / hour and more. Some services to evaluate are Betterup and Soundingboard.

12. 1:1 meetings

The 1:1 meetings with the direct supervisor can overlap with mentoring and coaching, and they also can be an addition to them. Usually, it's advisable that the mentor is not the direct supervisor of the mentee. Therefore 1:1 meetings with the immediate supervisor serve as an additional learning and growth opportunity. Consider the direct and time opportunity costs of the participants of those meetings and aim to use the time effectively and wisely. There are various tools to oversee the 1:1 meetings process, e.g. Lighthouse, 15five.


Author: Ansis Lipenitis, Wiserstate CEO. Ansis is passionate for personal development and a fan of existential psychology. Wiserstate provides e-sessions with leadership coaches to help solve the challenges that we face in our work as managers.