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Overcoming 10 Challenges That First-Time Managers Face

by Nora St-Aubin, Content Writer

February 22, 2018

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Becoming a manager for the first time is a big change, and with change comes challenges.

Overcoming challenges helps you to learn, grow and develop. Having perseverance is a big part of being a leader, and leadership is what management is all about.

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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Here are 10 challenges first-time managers may face

  1. Effective Communication With Your Employees
  2. Shifting Your Mindset Along With Your New Role
  3. Pressure To Perform As A New Manager
  4. Shifting From Coworker To Boss
  5. Managing Your Time
  6. Setting Clear Goals And Expectations
  7. Encouraging Productivity
  8. Hiring For Your Team
  9. Firing An Employee
  10. Asking For Help

Here, we guide you through 10 common challenges that new managers face and tips on how to overcome them.

1. Effective Communication With Your Employees

Building effective communication with your employees will give you a strong foundation in your new role as a manager.

The way that we speak – and the way that we listen – play a vital role in collaboration and teamwork. Not only that, the quality of communication on your team impacts levels of trust and vulnerability, which are essential to creativity and innovation.

As a new manager, it’s important for you to understand the communication dynamics on your team so you can optimize the strengths and find ways to improve any weaker areas. Every team is different, and learning the communication styles that work best on your team will really strengthen how you work together.

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2. Shifting Your Mindset Along With Your New Role

In your old role as an employee, your main focus was on accomplishing your tasks. Now, your main focus is on helping others accomplish their tasks.

The key more than anything in this transition is to shift your mindset and take on a new approach. Before you were in charge of yourself but now you’re a leader.

It’s your responsibility to oversee and guide your team, and this will involve developing your soft skills. Listen and pay attention to the needs of your employees to help them achieve the collective goals of your team.

Pro Tip: Monthly one-on-ones are a great way to make sure you and your employees are on the same page.

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 were worth it.

Becoming a leader is a learning process quote

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.

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

4. Shifting From Coworker To Boss

In a situation where you’ve been promoted internally to a management position, you might end up with some former coworkers on your team. This is a common situation and can be awkward to navigate.

Remember that even though you’re a manager, you’re still a member of the team that you’re leading. Your role on the team is to support your employees and ensure that they have everything they need to succeed. Management is a two-way street, and the success of your team is as dependent on you as yours is on them.

Pro Tip: Address your employees directly about your new position and let them know that you’re still a part of the team. Establish your role as “leader” rather than “boss” from the start.

5. Managing Your Time

Balancing your own tasks while overseeing your team can be difficult. You might not know how best to split your time, but remember that your team should always be a priority.

You should strive to be as available to your team as possible, but it’s also important that you set aside time to dedicate to your individual responsibilities.

Pro Tip: Book times in your calendar specifically for your own tasks, and let your team know in advance that you won’t be available during those times.

6. Setting Clear Goals And Expectations

One of your main tasks as a new manager is to guide and motivate the employees on your team. Part of that is making sure that your employees have clear directions and common goals.

It’s important to make setting goals a team effort. According to Gallup, employees want to see how their individual work contributes to the larger goals of their team and the company:

Employees who strongly agree they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.

Objectives and Key Results are great to align everyone on your team because the “key results” set expectations very clearly. Both employees and managers will have measurable results, making it easier to tell if they hit their mark or not.

Pro Tip: Meet with your team to set Objectives and Key Results so that everyone is working towards the same final outcome.

7. Encouraging Productivity

As a manager, a key to your success is to make your team as productive as possible.

This can be a challenge because all of 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.

Pro Tip: Have short daily meetings where everyone presents their tasks for the day to the team. This will help your employees set their focus for the day and see how everyone else’s tasks fit into the broader goals of the team.

8. Hiring For Your Team

Bringing someone new onto 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. Culture fit is 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.

Pro Tip: A great way to hire someone is by doing a work sample test where you give them a small project to see how well they perform, communicate and interact with the team.

9. 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.

Pro Tip: Set up a time to address the termination with your employees and discuss how you will move forward as a team. Address any questions or concerns they may have and encourage them to come to you privately to do so, too.

10. 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. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Ask HR about training that you might not know about or expensing training courses online. Seek out opportunities that can help you and your team succeed.

Pro Tip: Find a mentor. Look for someone with experience as a manager and pick their brain.

Other related topics you should read about:

  1. Management StylesFiguring out your own personal management style.
  2. Leadership StylesLeadership styles refer to the behaviors that leaders use to interact with their employees.
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What Are Some Challenges That You’ve Faced?

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

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