New Managers

Why Learning Circles Set Up New Managers for Success

Getting managers up to speed quickly is a difficult task. And there's only so much you can learn from leadership books. What new managers need is to learn from each other and from those with more experience. At every organization what they need are Learning Circles. In this article, we break down what Learning Circles are and why they are the best way to get new managers up to speed quickly.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

October 20, 2021

Updated on 

Time to Read

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Getting a quality manager is a herculean task. A Gallup report showed that only about one in ten people possesses the unique combination of talent to effectively manage. That can make finding the right person for the job quite difficult. Gallup discovered that “82% of the time, organizations have not been successful in selecting the candidate with the appropriate skill set for a managerial position.”

And the consequences of having ineffective managers can be dire. Efforts to improve the productivity and performance are thwarted by inefficient and under-skilled middle managers, according to research conducted by the Australian Institute of Management with Monash University.

The issue of poor management is well known. A survey of 2000 employees revealed that 83% of the employees rate their manager’s skills as average or below average. Employees felt their managers lacked the ability to communicate effectively, influence others, and oversee staff performance efficiently. 

What’s the solution? At Together, we believe that you don’t have to choose the right manager (something the research shows is unlikely to happen), but you can train the right manager. 


By connecting them with other new managers. There’s only so much that can be learned from leadership books. New managers need to learn from each other, sharing their successes and failures. Additionally, provide these groups of new managers with a senior manager to act as the group’s mentor. We call this Learning Circles and it’s the best way to help new managers learn the skills they need to succeed. 

What are Learning Circles?

Learning Circles are a form of Group Mentoring where similar employees connect to discuss particular topics–in this case, being a new manager. Learning Circles have two components:

  • Community. This is an opportunity for new managers to see how others adjust to their new position. They’ll have a community of others like them they can rely on. 
  • Mentorship. The Learning Circle provides new managers with a mentor who’s a more experienced senior manager. They’ll be the new managers’ go-to person for any questions or challenges they run into. 

Learning Circles are built upon the idea that every member has something to contribute and something to learn.

Many mentoring programs create learning circles just for mentors, so they can coach one another. Jodi Petersen from MentorStrat a mentoring consulting and training firm share that these kinds of  circles can be invaluable:

if you're planning a mentorship program, the full conversation is worth a listen. We discuss what first-time mentorship program managers need to know to be successful.

Learning Circles started in the education system

For over 100 years Learning Circles have been used in education. They’ve been proven to be an effective and practical means of learning. Learning Circles are collaborative and in todays economy where team work is non-negotiable, Learning Circles became a way to encourage students to learn from one another, not just the lecturer.

Learning Circles help new managers develop the skills they need

The price of having an unskilled manager is catastrophic. Unskilled managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year and having too many of them can hasten a company’s downfall, according to a recent Harvard report.

Learning Circles help new managers gain the required exposure to real-world managerial experience as they  come in contact with experienced managers and mentors of managers in their field. Therefore, Group Mentoring through Learning Circles can be the difference between a manager who succeeds or fails in their new role. 

The Learning Circle is a tool that encourages all key stakeholders to speak, listen and participate in problem-solving and decision-making. Participants observe, interpret and experience not only their own feelings and viewpoints about an issue but also broaden their perspectives by considering the many viewpoints around them.

3 Ways Learning Circles Set Up New Managers for Success

The main aim of Learning Circles is to build world-class class managers who are poised for success. 

1. Helps new managers make the transition from individual contributors to leaders

Learning circles are premised on helping new managers put theory into practice. New managers need real-world experience to help them function well in their new positions. At this point, books that address leadership or managerial skills aren’t enough. Learning circles teach them how to transform theoretical skills into practice.

Learning Circles help new managers shift their mindset from individual contributor to a leader. Instead of trying to beat personal targets they’ll focus on helping their teams beat theirs. 

2. Learn from their peers and mentors

The goal of Learning Circles is to bring new managers in contact with experienced ones. By engaging in purposeful interactions with experienced managers, new managers are exposed to their success stories and how they have achieved them. They also get to ask questions and explore ideas collectively. They are also introduced to useful resources for managers to excel in their roles.

Additionally, new managers can mentor each other. As they grow and learn what works and doesn’t they’ll share this in their Learning Circle sessions. Peer learning paired with having a group mentor will accelerate their leadership development.

3. Gives new managers a community

Nothing beats having a community of like-minded people to always fall back on for advice and guidance. Learning Circles are a community new managers need. They are support groups new managers can rely on. They’ll hold each other accountable and be a source of encouragement.

How Together Makes it Easy to Prepare New Managers

At Together we make it easy for organizations to build mentoring programs at scale. We help leading companies run new manager mentoring programs by providing them with:

  • An easy to use platform that doesn’t require employees to adopt any apps or tools. It seamlessly integrates with existing calendar and email platforms.
  • Comprehensive meeting agendas to encourage knowledge transfer.
  • A fully customizable program that adjusts to your company’s unique needs.
  • Robust reporting dashboards that collects feedback Learning Circle sessions. 

Learning Circles are a Group Mentoring approach toward achieving noticeable changes in mindset, job culture, and attitude to new roles. It can be effective beyond expectations when done the right way. The purpose of Together Software is to provide a learning community for new managers to hone their managerial skills through real-time mentor/mentee interaction and experience.

If you’re building a mentoring program through spreadsheets you need to see how Together can help you design a mentorship program that runs itself. Book a 15 minute chat with one of our mentorship experts today.

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