What We Learned from Our Learners

September 15, 2023

We begin by interviewing new managers in a friendly and informative manner to better understand their experiences, thoughts, and perceptions. Next, we create hypotheses based on user personas from public cohort intakes. This helps us see and analyze how new managers benefit from the program and how they learn. We then develop personas that represent various experiences and team sizes, with a specific focus on similarities seen in startup environments.

Using these techniques, we gather detailed information and valuable understanding, which helps us better meet the needs and challenges of new managers.

These are the things we have learned:

As managers progress in their careers, they will see fewer immediate results and longer delays for outcomes to occur

  • Being organized, making plans, and getting things done are some of the first things a new manager learns. Once everything is going well, they can then work on less tangible things, like making sure everyone has the same expectations and improving how people communicate. It's normal to feel unsure as things change and grow, but remember that it's all part of the ongoing process of learning and getting better.
  • What does this mean? Our learners are at a stage where they can already organize and plan. We know that learning "soft skills" can be intimidating because they are not easily measurable. Our aim is to help our learners make these skills measurable and tangible.

As a manager, you have many roles, and sometimes there are roles that you may not be familiar with

  • These hats can be difficult because they have many different responsibilities. As a manager, it's important to know when to wear each hat and when to take them off. It can become even more complicated when new hats unexpectedly come into play.
  • What does this mean? It's not easy to list all the different jobs that managers have. However, what we can definitely do is assist managers in learning how to understand the needs of their stakeholders and have a mindset focused on growth.

Some managers are naturally good leaders, while others work hard to develop their management skills

  • Some people are lucky to have natural qualities that their managers recognize (maybe because their managers have those qualities too) and they naturally become leaders. But there are others who become managers as they advance in their careers and they have to learn the necessary management skills.
  • What does this mean? It's crucial for us to embrace and appreciate diverse forms of leadership in our teaching approach. Keep in mind, being an effective leader isn't solely about relying on gut feelings.

Finding leadership is about finding yourself, especially the difficult parts

  • Receiving feedback on how you lead can be difficult at times. Your team members may require assistance that challenges how they see themselves, or their criticisms may bring up existing worries.
  • What does this mean? It's important to be open-minded and willing to learn from feedback. It's about balancing your personal and professional selves and being able to accept feedback without letting your ego get in the way.

Managing two areas of growth at the same time can sometimes result in feelings of disappointment creeping in

  • As the team members increase, the manager also grows. Managers may feel worried about their own progress and have concerns not only about possibly letting down their organizations or managers, but also their team.
  • What does this mean? Being afraid to fail can stop us. But you know what? Managers should believe in growth and know that they are always growing.

Managing your superiors and subordinates simultaneously is crucial and carries equal significance

  • Many people think that being a manager and being a leader are different, but actually, a manager should think about how to help their team grow together.
  • What does this mean? We can help them understand how their skills in one area can be beneficial in other fields.

Through this user research, we had the chance to discover and understand the many challenges that new managers often encounter. Find more information here.