12 management challenges (and how to overcome them)

Written by: the Officevibe Content Team | Illustrated by: Valérie Gatien
Published on April 15, 2020 | Reading time: 10m

Congratulations, you’re now a manager! Taking a step up the management ladder might seem intimidating, but it means you have the chance to grow both personally and professionally. Know that if you’re feeling pangs of imposter syndrome, it’s completely normal. Keep in mind that you earned this position!

Becoming a manager is a big change, and with this change comes an exciting challenge. While some challenges are specific to new managers, most will follow you through your entire career.  If you’re a first-time manager, new experiences will encourage you to grow and ultimately help you develop into a great leader. If you’re an experienced managerit’s important to learn new things considering how fast the workplace is changing.

Success often has much more to do with perseverance than it does with a person’s innate qualities. That isn’t to say talent doesn’t matter, just that it only goes so far without sacrifice and effort.

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1. Getting to know your team and their pain points

New managers require time to get to know everyone. Discovering your team’s unique skill set, personality, struggles, and goals is a process. Task yourself with learning about each of your employees – trust us, it’s time well spent. The more you get to know each employee, the more you’ll develop effective leadership skills that resonate.

Set up recurring 1-on-1 meetings with each member of your team to thoroughly get to know employees as people, not just “workers”. A good team leader sets up intentional quality time to build relationships, develop open communication, learn about their personal and professional aspirations. This will help you shape your leadership style while understanding what each employee needs in order to set expectations and objectives.

Team meetings are helpful for building camaraderie, but people might not feel comfortable voicing concerns or pain points publicly. Your 1-on-1 time is a chance to listen to issues. It’s also an opportune time to think about potential solutions, create a plan of action with each employee to overcome hurdles.

Pro Tip: At Officevibe, we built a 1-on-1 tool to help managers improve the quality of their conversations so they can build better connections with their employees.

2. Shifting your mindset from contributor to leader

In your previous role as an employee, your main focus was on accomplishing your tasks and helping your team reach objectives. Now, your mandate is to help others reach their goals, by nurturing their growth and strategizing from the sidelines. You can help them understand “what” needs to be done and “why”, but “how” to do it (i.e. the actual execution of the work) is up to them.

Great leaders, focus on setting up the right path for employees. They detail out the appropriate tools and resources for support. As tempting as it may be to jump in and show the team how it’s done; it’s even more important for the team to know that they have a manager who keeps track of their progress. Let them know that they can look to you for guidance during times of complexity and conflict.

PS: We developed a toolbox full of resources, tools and exercises to help you navigate your new role. From how to hire and onboard new employees to how to promote team performance!

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3. Pressure to perform as a manager

New and experienced managers often feel pressure to perform. Since you’ve been given an incredible opportunity, it’s human nature to want to demonstrate your value to the organization and team.

Remind yourself that you were chosen for this position for a reason. You deserve to be there. Becoming a leader is a learning process, and you will learn the most from the experiences you gain along the way.

Pro Tip: Set clear expectations with your boss, and more importantly, with yourself. Take time to plan properly and set yourself up for success.

In case you missed it: If you’re a new manager and want a comprehensive guide to help you transition smoothly to your new role, we’ve got you covered.

4. Building your Emotional Intelligence

One fundamental leadership skill that will distinguish yourself from a good manager to a great leader is Emotional Intelligence. Building self-awareness, having the ability to empathize with team members, and understanding how to regulate emotions (especially when the pressure mounts) will put you in the best position to support your team. Bonus: it will also give you a competitive advantage: companies need mindful leaders.

It’s your responsibility to oversee the emotional wellbeing of your team. Know that developing your soft skills is imperative. In fact, soft skills are now considered an essential component for great leadership. The workforce has shifted perspective from regarding these as “soft skills” to “power skills”. Robust people-skills enable managers to overcome management challenges, and identify the human undercurrent. Being able to pinpoint the emotional needs of each employee is a noteworthy skill.

Pro Tip: Thankfully, soft skills and Emotional Intelligence can be learned. Sign up for our email course to help you build up your EQ with fun and simple homework to apply in your day-to-day.

5. Shifting from the details to a birds-eye view

Individual contributors focus on nitty-gritty details associated with a daily task or project. You may have developed perfectionist tendencies as a result. Now you’re a manager, so you’ll have to go through the (sometimes) uncomfortable process of letting go. As enticing as it may be to give your input on every-little-thing, the role of a manager is to nurture your team’s strengths and develop within their role. Simply put, your job requires you to execute less on details and more on the bigger picture of the organisation.

Pro Tip: Avoid becoming a micromanager. Keep a holistic mindset. Check in with your team to see how things are going and if you can help. Be consistent with your organizational culture. Know that your job is to provide direction based on larger business objectives.

Yellow shape and blue shapes illustrating the management challenges

6. Managing your time

After succeeding in your old role, it can be difficult to schedule your days when your new responsibilities no longer include executing on tasks. Time management is an important skill for you to develop not only for yourself, but also for your team. Reminder: your team comes first.

It’s up to you to prioritize projects, tasks, and initiatives for your team based on strategic business objectives, but you also need to set aside time for your own development. That might look like working with a coach, reading up on management techniques, or speaking to other leaders about strategies and approaches they’ve used to manage employees successfully.

Pro Tip: Set aside dedicated time in your agenda for employee “office hours”. Whether it’s done remotely or in an office, reserving this block of time reminds your team that their needs are your priority.

7. Setting clear goals and expectations

Providing clarity is one of the most important skills to develop as a new manager, and it’s not always easy. Each employee requires a clear understanding of the company’s mission as well as their team’s objectives. This helps to frame how their individual contribution and goal-setting has an impact.

Help employees understand what’s expected of them, by meeting with each team member individually. This is a time to explore active listening to ensure that all respondents understand how they add value. Give your team the space to ask questions and reflect on their strengths and expertise which will shape their input. These discussions promote accountability and foster leadership.

Pro Tip: Monthly 1-on-1s are a great way to make sure you and your employees are on the same page. Use this time to set goals and action items, then follow up in the next meeting.

8. Giving and asking for regular feedback

Feedback might seem like an intimidating topic to talk about. Whether you’re giving it, or on the receiving end, it’s important for you to know how your team feels about your management style. Knowing our individual strengths and pain points helps us identify how to move forward as a team and boosts personal development. Consequently, you’ll boost employee engagement and productivity.

Keep employees engaged while you continue to grow as a leader. It’s important to create strong feedback loops where you give and receive feedback on a regular basis.

Not only will this instil a growth mindset across the board, it builds a strong sense of trust and openness between you and your employees.

Pro Tip: Use our feedback tool to collect and respond to employee feedback on a regular basis. Giving employees a safe space to share their thoughts anonymously will help you have conversations you otherwise might miss. That’s why 84% of employees who use Officevibe trust their direct manager.

9. Encouraging productivity

As a manager, one of the keys to your success is to make sure your team is productive and performing at their best.

This can be a challenge because team members may have different needs and work in different ways. Some employees prefer working in the afternoons, some in the morning, others require specific instructions, while others like to have more autonomy.

It’s important for you to create an environment that’s conducive to everyone’s productivity. Try to find out which ways work best and adjust accordingly.

Pro Tip: Host short daily meetings where everyone runs through their tasks for the day to the team. This promotes visibility in a remote work environment, and encourages employees to set clear intentions and goals for the day.

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10. Hiring for your team

Hiring someone new and introducing them to the team is a big decision. Don’t be shy to ask other managers or people from the HR team for help and advice.

It’s important that you look at possible candidates from an all-encompassing perspective. Personality and values are as important as past experience. Look at your candidates as unique and dynamic individuals, and think about what they’ll bring to the team beyond their direct skill set.

Pro Tip:  A great way to hire someone is by asking them to perform a work sample test. Give them a small project and a clear deadline, see how well they do and base your criteria on your team principles. Allow your team to give their input and communicate how they feel this person would contribute in the long term.

11. Letting go of an employee

Letting someone go from your team is a tough decision to make. Keep communication open with your team to make sure that they can recover from the loss. Put contingency plans in place to compensate for the gap that will be created in your team and their workflow.

Transparency is important when addressing your employees about a termination. Be as open and honest as you can and encourage each employee to ask questions. Be mindful of concerns they may have and stay within the integrity of your team principles.

Pro Tip: Set up a time to address the termination with each employee. Discuss how you plan to move forward as a team. Encourage employees to voice their questions and concerns, maintain open communication to instilling approachability and humility.

12. Delegating and asking for help

It’s part of the process as a new manager to feel a level of pressure about having all the answers. Did you know? It’s totally okay if you don’t. In fact, it’s encouraged. Every manager had to start their leadership path at some point and felt as though they needed guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask and seek advice when you need it.

Be vocal to your HR team about learning and development training that you may not know is available to you. Reach out to mentors, people you admire in your industry. These conversations are golden opportunities that will help you and your team succeed.

Pro Tip: Find a mentor. Look for someone with experience as a manager. Introduce yourself and explore if their mentorship is right for you.

Don’t miss this: We developed a toolbox full of resources, tools and exercises to help you navigate your new role. From how to hire and onboard new employees to how to promote team performance!

What are some challenges that you’ve faced as a manager?

Have you been there before? Any tips for new managers that you can share with us?

This article has been updated to reflect current workplace and leadership best practices and trends.