Peer support between new managers emphasised in Aalto's First Time Manager programme
Jasmin Tuominen and Pinja Mäkelä are experts in their work, but both are now on the verge of something new: starting for the first time in managerial positions. For their new position, they sought learning, support and tools from the First Time Manager programme, which is part of Aalto University's lifewide learning offering.
The six-month programme consisted of five workshops and intermediate assignments, which included e.g., peer meetings. During the training, they were strongly encouraged to explore their own working methods and self-reflect.
As a result of the organisational change, Pinja Mäkelä is moving from expert duties to team manager.
"During the program, I have been able to understand how I work and how I present myself through my work, what kind of person I am in the company and how I act as an example for my own employees," Mäkelä says.
Both Mäkelä and Tuominen took care of the studies during working hours. Jasmin Tuominen, who works as a product manager, admits that studying alongside work was challenging at times, as there has been a break from studying.
"Studying was challenging, but good brain exercise!"
The tasks of the programme included, among other things, familiarising oneself with the literature and writing reports. According to Mäkelä, producing a text is more burdensome than going to listen to lectures all day.
"On the other hand, it's the salt of the course, because it helps you think about things outside of the training as well."
Peer meetings continue even after the training
The programme's peer meetings are praised by the participants.
According to Jasmin Tuominen, the meetings allowed the participants to bounce ideas around and hear other people's experiences.
"We had a really good group of people with different backgrounds. I don't have my own subordinates yet because I won't start in new role until the autumn. I didn't really get to implement the practical exercises that I had to apply to my own managerial work, but I got some ideas from the more experienced ones about what works in everyday life and what doesn't."
The group worked so well together that the participants decided to continue the discussions.
"The next meeting has already been scheduled, even if the programme ends."
Pinja Mäkelä also found peer meetings useful.
"There were several of us from the same employer, so we had in-house discussions with colleagues in peer-to-peer meetings, which helped us evaluate the company's internal practices. In the future, the idea is to organise similar meetings as supervisors," Mäkelä says.
During the programme, I have been able to understand how I work and how I set an example for my own employees.
"The training could be called Anytime manager"
In managerial positions, continuous training is essential, and as a leader you will never be fully prepared. It is important to examine your own working methods from time to time, even if you have been working as a manager for a long time. Although the First Time Manager programme is aimed especially at new managers, according to the participants, it could also benefit managers with longer experience.
Pinja Mäkelä felt that she could get even more out of the training content if she had worked as a manager for a while longer.
"It would be a completely different situation to start training later, then you would know what daily life of a manager is like and how to develop operating methods."
Jasmin Tuominen estimates that the training would perhaps be best suited for those who have already started in a manager position – or why not for someone who has been in a managerial role for a longer time. The most important thing is that the course assignments could be concretely applied to one's everyday work.
"The name of the program could be changed to 'Anytime manager', because it would also suit very well for someone who has worked as a manager for 10 years."
The next training programme will start on 14.9.2023. More information and registration on the programme website (aaltoee.fi).
Students will find out what kind of skills and knowledge a person starting in their first managerial position should have.
First Time Manager training is designed for experts who have just started a new journey as a manager for a team or individuals, are about to start in a managerial position, or are leading a project for the first time.