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Workshop 1: Successfully Transitioning High-Potential Employees to First-Time Managers


William A. Gentry, High Point University
Cindy McCauley, Center for Creative Leadership


Megan Leasher, Macy’s Inc.


An employee’s first experience as a manager will be one of the biggest challenges and experience of his or her career. This session will take participants into the world of the first-time manager and introduce tools for stimulating the critical leader transitions needed in mindset, skills, and focus. Participants will also learn about the strategies organizations use to develop a cadre of frontline leadership talent.

Full Description:

Becoming a manager for the first time is one of the most stressful psychological shifts one can experience at work. Although it's a clear organizational imperative to develop them, research shows that almost 60 percent of first-time managers do not receive immediate training when they get promoted into their first leadership position. And surprisingly, it takes an average of 12 years before a manager actually receives any sort of formal leadership development training. Developing a strong pipeline of talent begins with your frontline managers. This workshop will help you understand the world of a first-time manager and will equip you with a list of action items and a toolkit of relevant content to develop a cadre of frontline leaders. Presenters will also share examples of how talent management professionals are tackling the challenge of preparing, developing, and supporting first-time managers across the organization.

Intended Audience:

Intermediate level and for general audience at the post-graduate level: This workshop is appropriate for I-O psychologists and HR practitioners who have some experience with the design, delivery, or management of leadership development initiatives in organizations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how development training can flip first-time managers’ scripts in mindset, skill set, relationships, do-it-all attitude, perspective, and focus
  • Compare tools that help first-time managers make these key transitional flips for leader success
  • Design experience-driven interventions to develop a pipeline of first-time managers
  • Identify strategies for recognizing individuals with potential for managerial work
  • Discuss how talent management professionals support individuals new to leadership positions

Presenter Biographies

William A. (Bill) Gentry, Ph.D. is the Director of Career and Professional Development at High Point University. As a researcher and practitioner, Bill examines what leaders, notably first-time managers, can do to be successful and avoid derailment. During his career he has amassed more than 70 academic presentations and has published more than 40 academic articles. In addition, his research has been featured in more than 50 Internet and newspaper outlets including Forbes.com, the Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Harvard Business Review, Chief Learning Officer, ChiefExecutive.net, Toastmasters, and TrainingIndustry.com. He wrote the cover article to the July 2017 edition of TD Magazine focusing on first-time managers and new leaders. Bill has also used his passion for research and developing first-time managers to write the highly acclaimed book Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders (Berrett-Koehler 2016). Bill received a Ph.D. in I-O Psychology from the University of Georgia. 

Cindy McCauley, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership. Cindy designs and manages R&D projects, coaches leadership teams, writes for multiple audiences, and is a frequent speaker at professional conferences. She is co-editor of The CCL Handbook of Leadership Development (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Experience-Driven Leader Development (Wiley, 2013), and Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent (Jossey-Bass, 2014). Her most recent publications include Change Now! Five Steps to Better Leadership (CCL, 2014), which guides leaders through a process of crafting and enacting development plans; and Direction, Alignment, and Commitment: Achieving Better Results through Leadership (CCL, 2016), which helps groups diagnose their leadership issues. As a result of her research and applied work, she is an advocate for seeing the leadership potential in every person, for using on-the-job experiences as a central leader development strategy, and for understanding leadership as a collective endeavor. Cindy received a Ph.D. in I-O Psychology from the University of Georgia. 

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