Business Management
First-time managers need coaching
A leading New Zealand HR professional is advising SME owners to provide support to new senior managers after a recent study in Australia shows 30 percent of first-time managers fail within their first two years in the job.
Julia Stones, the national vice president of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ), told NZBusiness that externally-appointed new senior managers can learn on the job but “there’s no doubt” they also need additional support. 
The Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) study shows 51 percent of Australian organisations do not provide first-time leaders with the support and resources necessary to succeed in their roles. LMA CEO Andrew Henderson says first-time leaders are largely being set up for failure rather than success. 
“Loss of productivity, higher staff turnover and the loss of a generation of prospective leaders is the impact of an apparent diabolical and outdated sink-or-swim approach,” he says. 
Henderson describes the magnitude of under-investment and the apparent lack of support for first-time leaders in Australian businesses as “breathtaking”.
The LMA survey is based on responses from 160 people representing over 500,000 employees. Researcher Adrian Goldsmith says the findings are based on companies with less than 100 to many thousands of employees. 
“I suspect the situation may be even worse in smaller organisations in that their talent management and development activities tend to be even less well formed.”
Stones recommends New Zealand business owners link first-time managers with an external coach. She says new managers should also undertake ongoing professional development and leadership training.
When it comes to appointing a new manager, she advises owners to involve a non-executive director or an experienced business person from outside the organisation in the selection process. 
“Make sure you have access to somebody who can provide a different perspective and some fresh thinking,” she says. 
“Otherwise, there’s a danger of cloning and that isn’t always going to create the best outcome.”
In the Australian survey 85 percent of respondents say it is important for government to provide sufficient financial support to help up-skill, train and develop people taking on their first leadership role. 
By Ruth Le Pla. Email ruth.lepla@xtra.co.nz 
 
Photo: Julia Stones, national vice president of HRINZ.
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