5 Leadership Challenges Every New Manager Faces
You’ve just gotten the call — you got the new job. It’s very exciting, but there’s one small problem; it’s a management position, and you’ve never been in a leadership role before. You want to do the best job you possibly can, but you’re a bit nervous. For one thing, you might have negative associations with the word “boss” — someone you thought of as a boss may have not managed you well in the past. For another, you might just not know where to get started with leadership.
Don’t worry — you’re not alone. Recent research from Gallup finds that good leaders aren’t just born and hired into a management role. Instead, they’re trained. Gallup’s latest State of the Workplace report finds that for managers to be effective, they must be trained and taught to act like a coach, who works with employees one on one, instead of like a boss who just tells everyone what to do.
The journey from getting hired as manager to becoming a leader might seem like a difficult one, but it’s a journey you can make. To help you on your way, here is a list of the five most common challenges faced by new managers and how you can face each one. For even more on this subject, please download the new Litmos eBook, From Promotion to Peak Performance.
1. Acknowledging that you are the manager
Being the boss isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s hard for new managers to find their balance at first. You might be an accidental manager — someone who wasn’t intentionally set on becoming a manager but was promoted into the position. You might have been hired up from within the team and now you’re not sure how to interact with the people who were your peers. You might feel you need to change everything right away to show you’re in charge. Conversely, you might suffer from Imposter Syndrome and just want everyone to carry on doing their jobs while you watch from the sidelines because you fear you’re not worthy of the position. None of this, however, is good management.
Remember, your team wants to trust you, so be honest about the things you don’t know; be respectful of the work they’re already doing; and don’t be afraid to make decisions about the direction of that work.
2. Learning how to delegate
Delegation is a critical leadership skill, yet it often trips up managers and not just brand new managers. According to an oft-quoted statistic from London Business School Professor John Hunt, just one third of managers are considered good delegators by their teams. Another study found that about half of the companies surveyed were worried about delegation skills in their workforce, but only 28% were training their employees to delegate.
So why don’t people delegate? Some leaders will say they’re too busy to delegate; others may worry about coming off as bossy. Yet others will find it hard to delegate a task they’re able to complete more quickly.
What’s the key to delegation success? An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that managers consider development part of their team members’ development. Consider the skills your team members need and assign tasks that will help them learn those tasks. Another approach is to remember each person’s strengths and assign tasks that play to those abilities.
3. Managing a team
Managing a team may seem like a daunting task; you’re managing different personalities, people with a range of experiences, people with completely different skill sets and some team members who have more experience than you do. It can be intimidating. So how can you be a good manager to them all?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s all about knowing your specific team, so get to know them. Observe them; look at who they are and how they work, how they socialize and how they spend their breaks. If you want to be more formal about it, you can even use a personality test, like the Myers-Briggs test. Once you know who your team is, you can start planning projects and team-building activities that will engage them all.
You should, of course, talk to them all, one on one. Get to know what their strengths and challenges are. Learn what their goals are and find out how you can support them.
4. Being organized
Getting organized when you’re just planning your own work is one thing. Organizing a team? A department? That’s a lot to manage, but then again, planning and strategy are a big part of leadership.
So, how can you organized quickly? Start with some cleaning – clear your schedule, clean your desk, and get your inbox tidy and organized. Then start making lists. Start every day with a list of tasks and check them off as you go. Not only does this keep you on track, it’s pretty satisfying to see your jobs being crossed off. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment. Don’t be afraid to re-prioritize when you need to.
You may also want to schedule some time when no one else is working to get some of this work out of the way. This suggestion isn’t saying you should sacrifice work-life balance; that’s crucial. But within reason, it may be a way you can get organized without interruptions.
5. Finding a mentor
You do not have to go into leadership and management all by yourself. Most of the smartest, most successful people didn’t get where they are without any help. In fact, most of them had mentors. According to research, 69% of CEOs said they made better decisions because they had a mentor and 84% of CEOs said mentorship helped them to avoid costly mistakes. If that’s not convincing enough, 9 in 10 workers who have mentors report being happier in their job.
Find a mentor who can teach you the leadership skills you need and offer support when you’re unsure of yourself or feeling overwhelmed.
Be the best manager you can be, even if it’s your first day
Management is tricky, but you’ve got this. All you need to do is build some new skills that will help you start your journey to leadership.
By investing in yourself and building these skills, you’ll influence and inspire your team, learn to encourage their development, and learn how to delegate while making the tough calls yourself.
To learn more about being the best manager possible, download the Litmos eBook, From Promotion to Peak Performance: How to Lead a Team as a New Manager and get a crash course in being the best leader you can be.