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New Manager Training Program at a Financial Services Company: A Case Study


XYZ Financial Services Company provides a variety of financial and life insurance services to their clients, who range from individuals to Fortune 1000 companies throughout the northeast United States. They have been in business for 15 years and during that time have grown to 75 employees. They are starting to expand the services they offer to include stock brokerage services and also hope to expand their business to cover the central and mid-west United States within the next 5 – 8 years. This plan of expanded services and coverage of territory is expected to increase their need for employees to support the business from their current level of 75 to 150 – 200 employees. Additionally, they will need to develop a new division to handle the stock brokerage services.

Current Training at XYZ Financial Services Company

Training at XYZ Financial Services Company has been mostly ad hoc, with individual employees signing up for a variety of open enrollment type courses offered through local training providers or through night classes at the local high school or college. In many cases the employee may have paid for training on their own if it was a personal interest; however, in some cases the company has paid for training if the manager of the employee has specifically requested the training. For example, if an employee is responsible for writing letters to clients, the company would offer to pay for training to improve writing skills for that individual. However, if an employee is interested in improving his/her presentation skills, but makes no formal presentations on behalf of the company, the company would not pay for that training.

The company realizes that in order to grow and prosper, and retain employees that are valuable to the company, they need to have more formal training programs, mapped to career paths, in place for their employees.

The Human Resources department was tasked with developing more formal training programs for the employees. The first program they focused on was a New Manager Training Program as the goal is to promote some of the current employees into management roles and hire new employees for the more junior, staff level roles.

Research on Developing a New Manager Training Program

Over the past few years when employees were promoted to a manager role from an individual contributor role, they were not provided any formal training and were rather “thrown into the role.” In the words of one of the fairly new managers – “Learning was done on the fly and it was particularly difficult if you were now managing individuals who were your peers previously.”

A survey was conducted of all individuals who were promoted to a management role within the last 3 years to determine what training would have been of value to them to ensure their success. The following questions were asked:

  1. Did you take any training courses on your own once you were made a manager? If so, please list the classes you took.
  2. Which of the following skills do you believe would have been helpful to have formal training on prior to starting your role as a new manager:
    • Interviewing skills
    • Basic management skills – such as leading others, delegating, communication, etc.
    • Conflict management
    • Negotiation
    • Transitioning from peer to manager
    • Performance management and coaching
    • Coaching others
    • Other (please list)
  3. What challenges did you face as a new manager?
  4. What challenges do you continue to face today?
  5. Would you be interested in mentoring new managers if a formal mentoring program was put in place?
  6. What other information do you believe would be helpful for us to know as we plan a new manager training program?

Some interesting findings from the survey included:

  • Uncertainty on how to function as a “buffer” between their direct reports and their manager
  • When decisions should be made quickly and when they should be made in conjunction with their team of direct reports
  • How to not take on everything themselves and learn to effectively delegate and trust others to get work done
  • Uncertainty on dealing with individuals who are negative and intimidating

All 10 individuals who received the survey responded. The answers were quite helpful to the HR department in developing a training program for new managers. These were all issues and concerns that HR felt could be addressed in training and also through incorporating a formal mentoring program.

It was determined that the new program would be rolled out with the 5 individuals who were promoted to a management role prior to them actually starting in the new position. The 10 individuals who responded to the survey were invited to participate in any or all of the classes, as they desired. All 10 took advantage of the training program in its entirety and attended classes with the 5 new managers. This was a great benefit to the 5 new managers as the 10 individuals who already had been in the job were able to share how they handled certain circumstances and provide their guidance to the new managers.

XYZ Financial Services New Manager Training Program

The new manager training program was a total of three weeks (15 days) in duration. Prior to the program starting, the new managers took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment to understand themselves and how they interact with others. The results were discussed during the kick-off of the program.

The first course the individuals took was called “New Managers 101.” The course was a 3-day course and focused on the following topics:

  • Transitioning into a new manager role
  • Getting to know your staff
  • Interviewing and selection skills
  • HR basics including employment law
  • Time management
  • Budget management
  • Effective delegating

Additional courses were one to two days in length and focused on:

  • Performance Management and Coaching (2 days)
  • Project Management Basics (1 day)
  • Team Leadership (2 days)
  • Managing Conflict (2 days)
  • Presentation Skills (2 days)
  • Communication (2 days)
  • Problem Solving (1 day)

The curriculum included role playing, case studies/scenarios, discussion, and team and individual exercises. Reading assignments were assigned for homework. Action planning was done after each course to map out how the individual was going to apply their new skills once they were in their new role.

The program included a formal mentoring program. The 5 new managers were assigned mentors. Their mentors were individuals who were promoted into management roles (from an individual contributor role) and had been managing for at least 3 – 5 years. The mentors helped the mentees with their action plans initially and answered questions about how they would apply their skills on the job.

After the Program

Once the program ended, the mentoring program “officially” kicked off and mentors met with the new managers formally at least once a week for 2 hours to answer questions, solve problems, brainstorm, etc. Additionally, after two months on the job, the group of 5 new managers came together to review their action plan progress and to take an additional course:

  • Management 101 – Part 2, (2 days) which focused on:
    • How to understand and influence the behaviors of others
    • Addressing behavior problems
    • Speaking assertively
    • Motivating others

A survey was done of the new managers, their managers, and their direct reports after 4 months on the job to gauge effectiveness and progress.

Key Points From Survey Results
5 New Managers

(who took the training program)

Their Managers

(VP level within the company)

Direct Reports

(individuals who reported to the new managers)

Were confident in their ability to manage individuals who were once their peers

Were comfortable with the ability to build a cohesive team and address issues that arise, sometimes making a decision independently to ensure the group is moving in the right direction

Were able to work with their direct reports to develop individual and team goals and objectives and professional development plans

Access to mentors provided them with someone they could talk with and a sounding board for tough decisions they had to make

New managers required less “hand holding” then previous new managers based on skills and knowledge brought into role through training program

Saw progress in action plans developed by new managers

Were tracking well toward targets set for new managers based on increased sales, building client base, improved processes/efficiencies, release of new products/services

Believed manager made good decisions overall for group and felt comfortable going to manager with concerns/issues

Felt manager cared about them and worked with them to develop their skills

Overall increased satisfaction with job and direction their department/group was heading


Based on the results of the surveys and based on follow up conversations with the mentors of the new managers, the HR department spoke with the executive team about the success of the program. The program was included as part of the standard training programs in place at XYZ Financial Services Company and all new managers (whether hired from external or internal to the company) would be put through the program prior to starting their new role.

As new managers were hired or promoted and went through the program, over a three year tracking period, statistics showed:

  • Retention of employees increased to 85% retention from 55% retention when a new manager took over a group
  • New processes and efficiencies improved time to market on new services and products by 25%
  • Departments/business units worked more collaboratively and shared information more regularly thereby increasing productivity
  • Longevity of management staff improved

What has been your experience with new manager (or new hire) training programs? Please share your stories in the Comments field below.

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