10 Challenges faced by a first time manager

He was brilliant as an individual performer, but her struggled to find his footing as the manager.

If we were to ask about the most commonly heard phrases about first time managers, the answers would most likely be on similar lines. 

Doesn’t it make you wonder, though? If there’s a gap between what’s expected of newly minted managers / leaders and the training they go through? 

After all, the two worlds are as different as chalk and cheese. And regardless of how well they might be trained, first time managers face a host of challenges while breaking into their newly acquired leadership shoes. One of the biggest reasons for this gap is that most managers in the workforce are promoted because they are good at what they did, and not necessarily good at making the people around them better.

And managerial position, like any other leadership role, requires a delicate balance of both – individual competence and enabling others to achieve excellence. Let’s now, take a look at a host of challenges a newly promoted manager faces, and ways to ease them into their new role –

1. Team handling

When the promotion happens from within the team, there’s a sudden shift in the dynamics of the team. This may lead to some tension and resentment.

In such a case, it is important for the newly appointed manager to remember that their success depends on the success of the team. Instead of being unreachable, work to build confidence among your team members. Create a healthy boundary even as you continue to work as an integral part of the team and help your team accomplish the required tasks.

2. Time management

As a manager, you play a dual role. You have to accomplish your own tasks, while also helping your team members in their tasks.

It is important to prioritise your team because if your team wins, you win. However, that doesn’t mean you can slack off in your individual role. They key is in planning your day out Ina dance. Make a robust plan that allows you to balance your time and energy well.

3. Team productivity

As a manager, you are responsible for the productivity of your team. A challenge of this manner requires you to understand the psychology of each individual team member. Some people lead with the stick, while others do so with the carrot.

Have one-on-one meetings with each team member to understand their needs better, and act accordingly. It is equally important to maintain transparency within the team. If any concerns arise, discuss them openly and pro-actively.

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4. Clear communication

As their manager, it is important for you to maintain efficient channels of communication with your team. Be direct, patient, and transparent with them. Work to create an open environment where ideas and questions are welcomed. Also, work on being a good listener.

5. Delegation

As a first-time manager, delegation is yet another skill that needs to be mastered. It can be hard, I initially, to let go of the control you have over all your tasks. This rings true especially in the case of driven professionals who got their promotion by excelling at all their tasks.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to guide your team members and share responsibilities with them. This will not only help build better inter-personal relationships but add to your productivity. Effective delegation can help build trust and enable overall team, growth.

Give team members sufficient authority, responsibilities, and resources based on their skill levels and experience; while, still keeping an eye out for any help or guidance they might need. This will help them feel confident and competent in their jobs.

6. Empowering your team

A common managerial trap that most first time mangers give into, is the temptation to jump in and micro-manage every single team member’s actions.

When faced with questions by your team members, encouraging them to figure out the answers for themselves. Your job is to guide them, and help them through the process, even as they solve the riddle on their own.

Furthermore, make sure to give them clear goals and hold the bar for quality where it’s needed. But, never do the work for them. This will allow you to build a team of high performing ‘doers.’

7. Effective listening

Your role as the manager isn’t just to drive your team towards their goals. But, rather, enable them to feel confident and safe in their individual roles. In this respect, effective listening in one skill that can help make a huge difference.

Engage your team in heartfelt conversations, often. When you build a safe space for your team members to share their problems and ask questions, you allow for impactful growth. Giving a person your full attention will not only make them feel valued, but also allow you to help them in the best way possible.

Remember, the strength of the wolf is the pack. A leader is only as effective as their team.

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8. Walk the talk

Doing what you say you will, is an important leadership trait. Thus, it is important that you don’t over commit and under deliver.

Only when you strive to hold yourself accountable to your words, can you do the same for your team. Regardless of the nature of the obstacle, as a leader you need to keep trying. Your actions will set the path for the rest of your team. People are more easily inspired by their manger’s actions than they are, by mere words.

9. Be Vulnerable

One of the biggest misconceptions about any leadership position is perhaps the idea that leaders have to be infallible. Often times, first time managers can get overwhelmed with the new set of responsibilities bestowed upon them. However, due to the fear of being ridiculed or appearing non-competent, they shy away from talking about their problems.

However, it is important for a manager to create and enable an open environment. A safe space for problems to be brought forward will help the team tackle them better. It will also help establish effective inter-personal bonds between the leader and their teams. A vulnerable man aged, open to ideas and discussion can set the tone for positive conversations and constructive feed-forward.

10. Constructive Feedback

As a manager, it is your job to call out your team members on their mistakes. However, this doesn’t come naturally to everyone. First time managers, especially find themselves struggling with giving effective and constructive feedback.

They key is to focus on the results, and avoid the blame game. You feedback should aim at helping your team member do their jobs better. Asking if they require any help often is considered an important part of any constructive feedback. Maintaining an open line of communication will help you imitate difficult conversations with much more ease.

Remember, at the end of the day, it is about helping people grow into a better version of themselves, while ensuring overall productivity.

This brings us to the end of this list. We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Feel free to share some of the biggest challenges you might have faced as a first time manager, or leader, with us.

If you want to deep dive into leadership and related topics, you can go and check out more blogs here.

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