15 Feb Just promoted to manager? How to deal with your 6 biggest challenges
You finally got that promotion and joined the ranks of first-time managers. Congratulations!
This is a turning point in your career that will open new possibilities and help you grow in ways you never expected. It’s also going to add more complexity and challenge to your work life.
A new study from Robert Half Management Resources asked 2,200 CFOs what they felt was the most difficult part of becoming a new manager. Their number one response, with 32 percent, was balancing individual job responsibilities with the time spent managing others. The number two response, with 19 percent, was supervising friends and former peers.
As any long-time manager can tell you, those are just a few examples of how you’ll be tested, and your adjustment period will have its ups and downs.
“Becoming a manager for the first time is not always an easy transition,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “More than simply adjusting to a new role, moving into a supervisor position requires adapting to others’ work styles and needs.”
These are six major challenges first-time managers face; here is how to approach them:
1. Managing others while still actually working
It’s true: Figuring out how to juggle your own projects while making time for your staff members’ needs is difficult. Managers need to know how to distinguish between times they can devote their attention to employee concerns and times when they can close their door — and whether this works for their team.
Put your calendar to work here: Schedule regular check-ins with employees, and block off times for you to focus on your own work. Unexpected and urgent situations will always arise, so you’ll need to add in some flexibility, of course.
Don’t feel bad during those times you must attend to your own work. You don’t want to micromanage; instead, recognize that empowering employees is key for new managers.
Resist the urge to spread yourself thin trying to meet every demand that comes your way. Delegating projects to your team frees up more of your time and demonstrates your confidence in your staff, which helps them grow.
2. Managing friends and former peers
When you join the ranks of new managers, define the boundaries of your relationships with your subordinates quickly. Don’t wait to see how things develop before drawing a line — by then it will be too late.
Explain what you expect from your staff and what they can expect from you. For your part, they will expect your trust, communication, and fairness, no matter how your relationship was defined before you became their manager.
Take the time to learn about all of your employees, but always keep your evaluations based on results and facts, not on whether you get along with the person. Whenever possible, tailor your management style to individual employees and change tactics if something isn’t working.
3. Trying to make changes too quickly
First-time managers are often very excited to start making their marks on the company, but if you force too many changes too quickly, your staff may push back. You might want to permanently erase “That’s how we’ve always done it” from your team’s vocabulary, but making unilateral decisions on how things get done from this point forward can backfire on you.
Take a collaborative approach on making changes and you’ll be much more likely to get the support of your staff. On the other hand, you need to approach them with a vision, not empty-handed. Let them know of changes you’re contemplating but want their input on. Then open up the discussion for alternative suggestions.
4. Giving direct feedback
New managers sometimes have a hard time delivering critical feedback or having difficult conversations. But the more direct and timely these conversations are, the better they’ll go.
If you avoid telling a problem employee directly how they need to shape up, you can end up driving away others on your staff — including your top performers — by letting the problem grow. Don’t sugar-coat a conversation when it’s a difficult one: Be straightforward and clear about the changes you need to see.
Don’t forget to give positive feedback regularly as well — recognition is something every employee appreciates. Hint: If your staffers look defeated when they see you coming down the hall, it’s a sign that you’re focusing on the negative much more than the positive.
5. Finding a role model
Becoming a manager can feel lonely, but new managers don’t have to go it alone. Your own boss was once a new manager — be sure to have regular check-ins about how your transition is going.
Finding a mentor can also give new insight. If there is no formal mentoring program in your company, see if you can talk to a star peer whose management style you admire. Learn what support and training resources are available to you within your company, and seek out online management resources as well.
6. Being too hard on yourself
Dealing with all of the above items as well as owning budget responsibility and performance reviews for the first time is not easy. Remember to be kind to yourself while you’re joining the ranks of first-time managers. Your staff will rally around you if they see you putting in earnest effort and working with them to improve the organization.
Becoming a good manager is a learning process that takes time, collaboration, and confidence. You’ve got this.
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