Would you rather hire an experienced, proven manager, or promote and develop a promising internal candidate?

Unfortunately few of us get to experience the luxury of such choice in today’s market. Why is that?

The root of the problem lies in the last recession. The lack of people entering the industry during those years means that today, talent is scarce at all levels. To compensate for this, recruiters of all sizes  are looking to “grow their own”. This is a great strategy as it breeds loyalty and lets you train people your way. The problem comes back to leadership. Without effective leaders in place to support the development of your new recruits, you can’t expect to achieve the results your business plan demands.

So how can you accelerate the development of new leaders?

1. Evolution not Revolution

Don’t expect to make someone a manager and dump everything on them on day one. This is a sure-fire way to kill their enthusiasm for leadership. Instead, add new responsibilities little by little. Help them to gradually integrate them into their routines so they can learn how to balance their leadership and billing responsibilities. It may seem slow at first, but in reality it’s much quicker than the alternative. Work with them to plan out the route or timeline and measure their progress regularly.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Change in Mindset

Most senior leaders focus on the tasks the new manager has to carry out and ignore the fundamental change in mindset that needs to occur when you step up to leadership. The transition from only thinking about yourself, to being responsible for others is a huge leap. It’s not a million miles away from becoming a parent for the first time. I remember when I first became a father and thought looking after a baby was going to be relatively easy, but getting my head around the fact you have no control over your time, sleep, social activity, or exercise just blew my mind!!

Make sure you have weekly catch ups with your new manager so you can help them to reflect on the insights they uncover and put them into context.

3. Write it Down

Conversations alone rarely translate to changes in behaviour. New managers need clear expectations about what’s expected of them, but if they aren’t written down, no one has a reference point for “what good looks like”. We usually break it down into four buckets:

  1. Leadership Approach
  2. Hiring, Motivating & Developing
  3. Sales Results & Financial Performance
  4. Sales Process & Delivery.

These headings are a great starting point for most recruitment businesses.

4. Two Steps Forward One Step Back

There will be good days and bad days, sometimes the new manager will be on fire, others they will look like they want to quit. Try to measure and focus on the incremental gain over time. You have to remain patient and objective. It’s unlikely their progression will never feel quick enough. It’s important to use data intelligently so that you can track their progress and they understand what they need to do to move the metrics in the right direction.

5. Share the Load

Don’t set yourself up as the only source of knowledge and advice for your new manager. Encourage them to learn from peers within the organisation. A strong leadership community is incredibly valuable. Having a diverse range of voices, opinions and experiences to draw upon is essential for new leaders. Consider setting up a more formal mentoring arrangement so that they have someone other than you to bounce ideas off and discuss their problems.

5.5 Recognise, Recognise, Recognise

New leaders are often racked with self-doubt (even the cocky ones!) about whether they’re doing the right thing or whether they’ll make it as a leader. Go out of your way to recognise the little things and big things they are doing well, on a regular basis. Get them to look back at the progress they have made over the last 3/6/12 months. Leadership is a journey rather than a destination and being mindful of where you are on that journey and recognising your progress is key.

Use these tips to add a little structure to your leadership development programmes and give your new managers a better chance of being successful.

Setting leadership competencies is fairly simple, but embedding them is hard without the right skills. You can start learning how to embed these competencies by joining our Leadership Development programme this September.