Are you setting your team up to fail?

There is nothing I love more than hearing about someone being promoted internally to their first management position. It is such a great thing to be able to recognise existing outperforming individuals with their next step in their career. It also sends a great message throughout the organisation that not all positions are filled externally; that good things do happen to existing colleagues, that succession planning is working and that there is a clear path and structure to work your way up the ladder.

It really is wonderful to watch someone take their first step into management – but what then? What happens when you take someone who has been out-performing in their current role and give them a management position? What support do they get to ensure they succeed?

If the answer is ‘very little’ or ‘nothing’ – are you inadvertently setting someone up to fail?

Many a time, I have had conversations which go something like this:

“They were great in their old job, but they just can’t manage people.”

“It’s been 6 months now, surely they should have got the hang of it by now.”

“They’re just not doing well at all”

On more than one occasion I have seen the result of someone who was promoted to Team Leader / Supervisor and has been left to flounder – and then after months of not succeeding they are being given management training, or worse still performance managed.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are things you can do to make sure your new Team Leader gets off to a flying start:

1. Give them a mentor

Going into a management position for the first time, can be daunting. Not only are you expected to behave in a different way, but you’ve also very different objectives to meet.

Ease the transition by giving the individual a mentor. Someone who has ‘been there and done that’ and is able to not only share their experiences but be on hand for support should they need it.

2. Explain exactly what their new role entails

Although they will have an understanding of their new role they now have to understand the detail. What do I do when…? How am I measured? What does success look like? What does a typical day look like? Go through their job description in detail so that they can ask any questions and clarify their understanding.

You might also want to go through how a Team Leader / Supervisor is expected to behave, so they can start off on the right foot.

3. Give them the relevant training

If possible, before they start their new role give them some basic management training. This will not only give them the relevant skills to do their job, but it will also help them change their mind-set from colleague to manager

4. Support them continuously

The length of time it takes someone to settle into a new roll is different for different people, so build in review meetings on a regular basis for continuous support. You can use this time to discuss any problems, refresh training or simply to have a catch up with what’s going on.


Supporting a new manager doesn’t have to be time consuming, but is time well spent for them to really succeed in their new role.

1 Comment

  1. Trish Clarke

    Great tips which more companies should adopt. I always found getting the individual to understand their personality traits and the strengths and weaknesses of them when translating that to management tasks.
    At times you have to adopt/adapt a slightly different approach to that of your natural style to maximise impact.


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