New managers

Developing new managers with mentorship programs

Exceptional employees are usually promoted to a role they have little to no training in: a manager. As new managers, these employees are left on their own to learn as they go. But for organizations that want to set up their new leaders for success, they should be looking for ways to mentor them. Mentorship is a fantastic way to help new managers grow into their roles as leaders.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

November 17, 2021

Updated on 

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Many new leaders struggle with transitioning into their first formal leadership position (60% say the stress is second to divorce). New managers face a steep learning curve and daunting challenges. Do we have a plan to prepare them for their transition? If they appear to be failing, could it be that we haven't provided the necessary support?

Studies show that two-thirds of employees in any given organization have been promoted without having received adequate training for their position. According to Brian Rollo Consulting Group, it's not surprising that 63% do not feel effective after six months, and 50% still do not feel effective after a year.

New manager training: It's more than coursework

Who gets promoted to manager roles? Clearly people you see as exceptional individuals with a good head on their shoulders and show commitment and promise. But that doesn't mean they know how to act as leaders yet.

They may make outstanding contributions and exhibit skills that would be beneficial for them in a leadership role. But leadership is an entirely new skill set. They’ll need support and training to succeed in a leadership role.

An important concept to understand is Peter's principle. It states that "in an organizational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence." However, most HR and leaders believe that if you're a great worker in your current role, you'll automatically become an effective manager after being promoted. This thinking leads to a lack of training for new managers because ”they can figure it out on their own.” Doing so can set them up for failure.

You may feel that your new manager training is adequate. But consider that 98% of new managers feel they lack the necessary skills to handle conflict resolution, time management, and professional development. What happens when the training and help are not forthcoming? 40% of new managers failed in less than two years, according to a survey done by Manchester, Inc, a leadership development firm in Pennsylvania.

According to, 58% of newly promoted managers receive no formal training or development before assuming their leadership roles. Little wonder, 50% of new managers are rated as ineffective. 

What does all of this mean? New managers need to learn new skills they haven't been trained for; new managers need more than "baptism by fire" to lead others effectively and increase productivity overall. What they need is mentorship.

Why do new managers need mentorship?

Mentorship is a fantastic way to help new managers grow into their roles as leaders. Providing new managers with mentors gives them someone they can go to when they have a question or challenge. New managers can rely on them for a combination of guidance and practical experience. This support system will give them confidence when taking on bigger challenges or leading teams for the first time. Here are a few reasons why new managers need mentorship.

For organizations

Organizations should provide new managers with mentoring opportunities for a number of reasons. As mentioned above, your new managers likely lack some really important skills. And these skills are hard to learn in isolation. By giving new managers training through mentorship it can close the gap quickly. 

Another reason organizations should care about mentorship for managers is that there’s a trickle-down effect on the teams they lead. As the new manager learns new skills from their mentor guidance they’ll likely want to pay it forward by mentoring those below them. As managers begin to mentor their subordinates, they’ll also engage in peer mentoring with one another. It’s a virtuous cycle and, in essence, creates a mentoring culture. 

For new managers

Mentorship is imperative to properly train and support new managers. Companies need to realize that it's crucial to train and develop potential leaders at every level within an organization; formal training courses don't always go deep enough into specific skill sets or behaviours necessary to prepare people for leadership positions. It’s all theory, no practice.

Instead, new managers need mentorship that provides them with a support network and helps them learn from other leaders. Besides building confidence, mentorship speeds up their learning and development, understanding of workplace culture, and builds a sense of commitment to their new role. 

Additionally, new managers don’t just need a senior manager as a mentor. They also need to learn from other managers like them (more on that later).


Mentoring a new manager? Download our new manager mentor handbook.


6 steps to create a mentorship program for  new managers

Effective managers increase your employees' engagement level, retain staff, and ultimately improve your customer base. All of this begins with a stellar mentorship program to help them succeed. Here are six steps to creating one:

1. Goals

An effective new manager mentorship program is one in which goals are set and achieved. Achieving these objectives requires identifying managers' existing skills sets (for example, 30% lacked team building) and setting goals that close the gap between where they are and need to be. 

When considering management development needs, start with the organization's vision. Then ensure this vision aligns with the new manager's interest and development because there should be no dissonance between the new manager's development and organizational goals. 

According to LSA Global research, companies that align their employee's learning and development activities with their organizational goals are more likely to succeed. Consider these:

  • They grow revenue 58% faster and
  • Are 72% more profitable than organizations that don’t align employee learning with strategic goals.
  • Will outdo unaligned organizations in employees engagement, customer satisfaction, and leadership.

2. Decide on a model for the mentoring program.

Once the goals have been set, and alignment has been reached, the next step is to decide on a model for the mentoring program. There are several ways you can structure your program:

Traditional 1-on-1 mentorship

The traditional mentoring relationship is a supportive learning experience that can enrich a junior employee's professional journey and life cycle with the help of an experienced, knowledgeable mentor. When there is a 1:1 ratio of mentors and mentees this model is best practice. But that’s rarely the case so many programs we’ve seen have mentors taking on multiple mentees in a group mentoring model.

Group mentoring

Unlike traditional mentoring where a junior employee engages one-on-one with a senior employee, junior employees are mentored in a group setting by a senior employee. This is best for programs where the goal is related to collaboration and building community. New managers are enthusiastic about connecting with other new managers so this is a great model for your mentoring program. Another name for group mentoring is Learning Circles where new managers come together to discuss specific challenges or best practices related to being a manager. 

Peer mentoring

This usually involves employees at the same level of hierarchy in an organization mentoring one another. Peer mentoring is best when there are few mentors, and new managers have existing skill sets that would be beneficial to share with other new managers. 

Perhaps one manager is particularly good at developing strategies. Another is great at motivating their team. By pairing them together, they can mentor eachother. In this way, the advice may be more tactical and actionable than advice from a senior manager.

Reverse mentoring

When a junior employee mentors or passes over their skill and understanding to a more senior colleague, this is called reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is the best for programs that provide visibility to new managers from underrepresented backgrounds (women, black, LGBTQ+, etc.). 


Any mentoring program that is not done physically or face-to-face could be done virtually. This can work with any of the models above but works well for global companies where participants can't meet in person.

3. Pairing new managers

To ensure that the new manager gets mentoring she can benefit from; it's essential to create compatible pairings. If you notice friction between pairs, reconsider your notion of what will work best.

Commonality. Be sure the mentor has the skills or experiences that the new manager desires. A successful pairing could start by looking at the commonalities between mentor and mentee. These commonalities or similarities could be in terms of communication style, career background, or interests. 

Shared expectations. Mentor and mentee must have aligned expectations for this relationship. Alignment of expectations can be difficult in some cases. Still, when both parties are on board (share similarities), it will make them feel more engaged, ultimately leading to success.

Leaders and top executives must understand that even though mentorship is essential, it mustn't be a do-or-die affair for both the mentor and mentee. Let them have a say, and if need be, let them choose who they want to be paired with. Perhaps a mentee could select their match from a handful of potential mentors. However, if any pairing is not successful, find a simple way to change the pairing.

4. Provide meeting agendas

It is not enough to simply set goals and pair new managers with mentors. To succeed, leaders need to provide pairs with resources like articles, discussion topics, sample questions, and more to encourage fruitful conversations. Give them an outline to work with and expect to interact and provide feedback.

Mentors and new managers need to have a plan. Encourage them to create development plans to ensure that both parties work in tandem and better serve their respective stakeholders. For mentoring programs run on Together's mentoring platform we encourage both the mentor and mentee to sign an agreement on logistics (when they'll meet, how they'll prepare for each session) and expectations (who will ask questions, what they expect to learn). This gets them on the same page and sets the tone for future sessions.

5. Check-ins

As stated earlier, goals need to be set and achieved. The best way to do this is for program managers to check in from time to time. Even informal interactions to touch bases are valuable throughout the day. This way, new managers can get feedback on what was accomplished and how it could be improved, and little issues or problems can be headed off. 

Another way that program administrators can follow up with their users (on top of collecting feedback after each session) is by sending out a CSAT survey that users fill out mid-way through the program. This feedback can be more thorough than regular post-session feedback. 

  • You can ask questions like:
  • How has your mentoring relationship been developing?
  • Are you reaching the goals you set at the beginning of the program?
  • Was this what you expected when you joined the program?
  • What would make this program better for you in the future?
  • These questions provide insightful feedback for future mentoring programs.

Our CS Director Matthew, shares,

“We always recommend doing a mid-point check-in to ask people how things are going and get feedback for your program and future ones. It’ll give you a clear idea of what’s working or needs to change.”

6. Reporting

Every mentoring program should have a clear and concise evaluation plan to ensure its success. Then you will have a model that can be replicated. How can you measure the success of your mentorship program? Reports. Evaluating how things went will provide insight into areas that need improvement while also helping you learn more.

But, what to report on? The beginning of this process started with setting a goal that needs to be achieved. How far has the program come to realizing this goal? This and other essential metrics are what you want to track:

  • Signups
  • Mentee and mentor goals
  • Anecdotal feedback
  • Session feedback
  • Business outcomes

Using software to run your mentorship program

Overall, companies looking to start a mentorship program should use mentoring software if they want to run a program at scale. Using spreadsheets is doable if there are less than 25 participants, but it becomes a logistical nightmare to manage so many pairing combinations and mentoring relationships once it goes over. 

Leveraging software to run a new management mentorship program is a great way for organizations to improve their talent development initiatives.

Together is the most recommended mentorship platform by Software Advice
Together's mentoring software is the most recommended mentoring platform for companies looking to level up their internal mentoring programs

They can pair new managers more effectively by using our pairing algorithm that weighs their goals and skill gaps. Chat with us for 30 minutes to learn more about how to introduce mentorship into your organization for new managers.

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