There are many challenges that managers face, and while they can arise at any point in their career, they can be particularly prevalent for first-time managers.
The impact managers have on their teams and direct reports is huge, not mention the role they play as ambassadors for the company values. This is why it’s so important to invest time in developing their leadership skills.
In order to help you, we’ve put together a list of the most common challenges with tips on how to combat them, and have stronger managers who support their teams on their way to success.
Adjusting to the role
First time managers often find it difficult to take ownership of their role. It can be particularly difficult managing those they used to work closely with as peers, and perhaps have personal relationships with. They will need to learn to keep these personal relationships separate from workplace conversations.
Tip: One way of doing this is by teaching them how to give feedback. This will help them feel more comfortable giving their team members input on their work, particularly when they want to address an issue they may have noticed. Remind them that giving constructive feedback isn’t negative, but is a way of helping their team reach their full potential and be more efficient.
Whilst it’s undeniably a manager’s role to support and coach their team to help them perform at the best of their abilities, there’s a fine line between managing and not giving people the space to do their work.
A common misconception when becoming a manager is that they suddenly have to control and oversee everyone’s work, double checking what’s been done and acting as a sort of “quality control”. But this can quickly become stifling for the team, who won’t feel trusted and will no longer have the freedom to do their work.
Tip: Before someone starts in their new role, share some high level information with them on a manager’s top traits. This could be through a Q&A session with more seasoned managers, a mentoring scheme, or a cheat sheet.
A manager’s role is to enable the team so they have the space to complete their assignments, whilst helping them make progress as individuals and take ownership of their development. This means supporting their schedules so they can get their work done, helping them to prioritize, and acting as the buffer between the team and upper management, amongst other things. Ensure this is known to them.
3. Not demonstrating leadership
Whilst micro-managing can be an issue, on the other end of the spectrum is not giving people enough guidance on what is expected of them. While people may know what individual tasks they’re supposed to complete, a manager’s responsibility is to ensure everyone is fully aware of how their work aligns and contributes to both the team and the wider company goals. Managers should be able to give a sense of direction to their team, steering everyone in the same direction.
Tip: Ensure the company goals and values are clearly communicated at all levels of the organization, and are particularly clear to managers. This might be done through regular company-wide meetings, posters, or information sessions with smaller groups. No matter how it’s done, it has to be clear so managers can further communicate them to their team and give them direction.
4. Lack of communication
As new managers, people may find it difficult to openly communicate with their team about expectations or to bring up issues they are encountering. However, it’s important to keep communication frequent and open so that everyone is on the same page. Developing a culture of feedback within a team is an essential way to ensure they can really progress together and individually.
It’s equally important to celebrate their successes, however big or small. Making sure your team feels recognized is an important way to ensure they are motivated and want to contribute more.
Tip: Recognition doesn’t have to be costly, it can be as simple as a hand-written thank you note. Look at your internal recognition programs and what you’re doing to encourage this mindset. Ensure managers are aware of what is available to them, and support them when needed. For more information, watch our webinar on the value and impact of recognition!
5. No upward feedback
After mentioning how important it is for managers to give feedback, show leadership, and communicate well, it only makes sense to evaluate their performance. After all, if you are encouraging them to develop these skills but no one is evaluating their behaviour, it seems like a pointless exercise. It also doesn’t set a very good example throughout the company, if bad managers are left in charge of teams.
Tip: Encourage managers to be open to upwards feedback, which will have 2 benefits. On the one hand, it will help to grow the culture of feedback within the team by setting the example. If individuals see their manager is open, they will feel more inclined to share themselves. On the other hand, it shows the manager has a desire to improve and learn. To further support this you can run leadership reviews, so that you as HR have the data you need on how well your managers are performing.
Now you know the top 5 leadership problems with tips on how to solve them. Take time to look through the above and check whether your managers are on track or whether they may be facing difficulty in some of these areas. If they are, make sure you have the resources in place to support them.
Want to take it one step further? Download our “Manager’s Guide to feedback for teams” and share it with your managers.