Congratulations on your new role as manager! While new can be intimidating, new also means you have the chance to grow personally and professionally. If you’re feeling the pangs of the imposter syndrome, that’s normal. However, keep in mind you earned this promotion.
Becoming a manager for the first time is a big change, and with change comes challenges. Learning from these experiences will ultimately help you develop. Be perseverant! This a big part of being a leader and true leadership is what management is all about.
– Fast Company
Here are 12 challenges first-time managers may face
- Getting to know your team and their pain points
- Shifting your mindset from contributor to leader
- Pressure to perform as a new manager
- Building your Emotional Intelligence
- Shifting from the details to a high-level view
- Managing your time
- Setting clear goals and expectations
- Giving and asking for regular feedback
- Encouraging productivity
- Hiring for your team
- Firing an employee
- Asking for help
1. Getting to know your team and their pain points
When you start managing a new team, it will take some time to get to know everyone, their unique skill set, personality, struggles, and goals. But there is no time better spent than learning about each of your employees. The more you get to know your people, the better you can lead them.
Set up recurring 1-on-1 meetings with each member of your team to really get to know your employees as people, not just workers. This dedicated quality time will help you build relationships, learn about their personal and professional aspirations, and what they need from a manager to push themselves.
Team meetings are great for building camaraderie, but people may not feel comfortable voicing any concerns or pain points. Your 1-on-1 time is a chance to hear those issues, think about potential solutions, and work with the person to create a plan of action to overcome or remove those hurdles.
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 their objectives. Now, your mandate is to help others reach their goals, without actually doing the work. You can help them understand “what” needs to be done and “why”, but the “how” to do it and the actual execution of the work is up to them.
Now that you’re a leader, you need to focus on providing the right path, the right tools, and the right amount of support, without getting your own hands dirty (as tempting as that may be).
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!
3. Pressure to perform as a new manager
One of the most nerve-racking things about being a first-time manager is the pressure to perform. You’ve been given an incredible opportunity, and now you want to show that you’re worth it.
Remind yourself that you were picked for this position for a reason and that you deserve to be there. Becoming a leader is a learning process, and you will learn the most from the experience you gain as you go along.
In case you haven’t seen this: 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 help you grow from a good manager to a great leader is Emotional Intelligence. Building your sense of self-awareness, being able to empathize with your team members, and understanding how to regulate emotion (even when the pressure strikes) will put you in the best position to develop and care for your employees.
Since it’s your responsibility to oversee the emotional wellbeing of your team, developing your soft skills will be imperative. In fact, soft skills have become such an essential component of good leadership that the workforce has more recently referred to them as “power skills”. Building up these people skills to properly manage the human undercurrent and emotional needs of your people will help you become the manager that other teams want to be led by.
5. Shifting from the details to a high-level view
Once upon a time, your role as an individual contributor likely had you focused on the nitty-gritty of projects. Maybe you were even a perfectionist. As a manager, you’ll have to go through the often uncomfortable process of letting go of the details. As enticing as it may be to delve in and put your expertise to work, the role of manager is to let other people shine and develop in their role. To put it simply, your job is less about the details of the work and more about the engagement of the people doing it.
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. And, as a boss, you’re now responsible for managing the time of both you and your team. One thing to remember: your team always comes first.
It’s on you to help prioritize projects, tasks, and initiatives for your team based on the business objectives, but you also need to set aside time to develop in your role. That might include working with a coach, reading up on management, or speaking to other leaders about strategies and approaches for managing a team successfully.
7. Setting clear goals and expectations
Providing clarity is one of the most important skills to develop as a leader, but it’s not always easy. Each employee needs a clear understanding of the collective goals (company and team), and how their individual goals contribute to that bigger picture.
To help employees understand what’s expected of them, meet with each team member individually to ensure that both the business and team objectives are clear. Give them the space to ask questions and reflect on how they can contribute to these goals given their strengths and expertise. These discussions will promote accountability within your team.
8. Giving and asking for regular feedback
While it might be intimidating to ask for or receive feedback as a new manager, it’s wildly important to understand how your team feels about your management and how they feel you can improve. It will help boost your personal development and consequently, you’ll boost your team’s engagement.
To keep employees engaged – and to continue growing as a leader – it’s important to create a strong feedback loop where you give and receive feedback on a regular basis.
Not only will this help to instill a growth mindset across the board, but it will also help you establish trust while keeping the barriers down between you and your employees.
9. Encouraging productivity
As a manager, a key to your success is to make sure your team is productive and performing their best.
This can be a challenge because your team members may have different needs and work in different ways. Some people like working later, some earlier, some people like being given specific instructions, some people like to have more autonomy.
It’s important for you to create an environment that’s good for everyone. Try to find out what works best and adjust accordingly.
10. Hiring for your team
Bringing someone new into your team is a big decision. Don’t be shy to ask other managers or people from the HR team in your company 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 skill set.
11. Firing an employee
Letting someone go from your team is a tough decision to make. What’s important after you fire someone is to make sure that your team can recover from the loss. Prepare as best as you can to compensate for the gap that will be created in your team and their workflow.
Transparency is important in addressing your employees about a termination. Be as open and honest as you can and allow for open communication between your employees and yourself. Encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns they may have.
12. Asking for help
You might feel pressure to have all the answers in your new managerial role, but it’s okay if you don’t. In fact, it’s normal. Every manager was new at some point, so they understand the struggles you’re experiencing. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when you need it.
Ask HR about training that you might not know about. Seek out opportunities that can help you and your team succeed.
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.