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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

Top 8 Challenges of a New Manager

A women leader standing confidently with arms folded

Stepping into a managerial role for the first time can feel like navigating uncharted territory. Whether you’ve climbed the ranks due to your outstanding contributions as an individual or you’ve been working towards a leadership role and finally achieved it, the shift can be quite daunting.

Without previous experience to fall back on, the early days of your management career can be filled with uncertainty.

The potential for perceived inexperience to translate into doubts about your leadership abilities is a real challenge. In such a situation, facing down those questioning your authority can be unnerving.

Despite these initial hurdles, you can transition smoothly into your new role with a proper understanding of what lies ahead and a plan to tackle it.

In this article, we’ll explore new managers’ top ten challenges, offering practical advice and strategies to turn these potential stumbling blocks into stepping stones toward effective leadership.

1. The Delegation Dilemma

Delegation is a critical managerial skill, but it’s often a stumbling block for new managers. You might be tempted to micromanage or hesitate to delegate tasks, assuming it’s quicker to do them yourself.

This approach can lead to inefficiency, burnout, and a demoralized team.

As an individual contributor, you must be good at doing things yourself. You trust your ability and feel you can do most tasks better than your team members. Even after moving into a leadership role, the habit is hard to let go of.

However, delegation is one of the key tools for leaders to build trust and simultaneously create time for themselves to do role-appropriate work.

Practical Advice

  • Understand that delegation is about empowering your team, not abdicating responsibility. Just because you delegated does not mean you are free from the responsibility of getting the work done.

  • Start small. Delegate tasks that you trust your team can handle well.

  • Make your expectations clear from the start. Check-in periodically to see if they need any help.

  • If someone struggles to complete their assignment, guide them where they need your support. Refrain from taking over the task and doing it yourself.

2. Mastering the Art of Communication

Clear, transparent communication forms the bedrock of effective leadership. As a new manager, your ability to articulate your vision, propagate company strategy, delegate tasks, provide feedback, and foster an environment of open dialogue will be critical to your team’s success.

Misunderstandings or misinterpretations can derail projects and cause unnecessary friction within the team. Clearly and concisely communicating your goals and expectations is essential, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Practical Advice

  • Start by setting clear expectations for every task or project.

  • Be open, approachable, and encourage two-way communication.

  • Provide clear feedback with actionable guidance.

  • Be an active listener and show empathy towards your team’s concerns. As a new manager, it’s crucial to cultivate an environment where your team members feel heard and understood.

3. Building Trust and Credibility

Establishing trust with your team is essential, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It can be incredibly challenging if you’ve been promoted from within the team. You must earn the trust of your former peers.

It is challenging to build credibility with stakeholders when you are new to the role. They often consider you as someone who does not have sufficient leadership experience.

Before you can gain the trust and prove your credibility, you need to deliver results.

Practical Advice

  • Be consistent in your decision-making and follow through on your commitments.

  • Focus on solving the problems for your team and the stakeholders. It can build your credibility as a capable manager.

  • Be transparent and honest. Admit when you’re wrong.

  • Demonstrate your commitment to your team’s success by putting all your effort into making the team’s contribution visible and appreciated at the leadership level.

4. Decisive Decision-Making

Leaders are expected to make tough decisions swiftly and confidently. This can be intimidating, mainly when the stakes are high.

As a new manager, you may be afraid of making the wrong decisions or lacking the correct information.

However, you must know that your teams can sense your hesitation. If people believe you cannot make decisions, they will not feel confident in your leadership abilities.

Practical Advice

  • Do not allow fear to prevent you from making a decision.

  • Gather relevant information, consult with your team, and then make the best decision you can with the data you have.

  • Learn from any mistakes, and use them as opportunities for growth.

5. Time Management

As a new manager, you’ll have more on your plate than ever before. Managing your time effectively is crucial to prevent becoming overwhelmed.

Once you become a manager, you will hardly get dedicated time for finishing your assignments. You will start having more meetings in the form of 1:1s, all-hands, staff meetings, etc. You will also now have to deal with stakeholders and higher management.

Practical Advice

  • Prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.

  • Use delegation to your benefit.

  • Remember to set aside time for strategic planning and reflection.

  • Optimize the meetings and attend only the ones where your presence is a value add.

6. Conflict Resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any workplace. As a new manager, dealing with various frictions at the workplace can get pretty overwhelming. How you handle them can either strengthen or weaken your team.

As a leader, you will face challenging situations where your team members have opposing views. You need to ensure amicable resolutions without any party feeling slighted.

You also have to handle conflict between your team and business or interlock applications.

Practical Advice

  • Address conflicts promptly and impartially.

  • Listen to all sides, promote open dialogue, and aim for fair resolutions.

  • Maintain an open-door policy. Let people bring their challenges to you as they occur before it becomes a full-blown conflict.

7. Talent Development and Retention

You’re responsible for your team’s performance and growth as a manager. Ensuring your team feels valued, challenged, and professionally fulfilled is key to retaining top talent.

When you become the manager of a team, you have little control over the existing team members’ abilities. Even if there are some low-performers, you cannot replace them with the talent you want.

You must work with each member, based on their abilities, to improve and contribute their best to the team. Building and retaining a solid team is critical to success for any manager.

Practical Advice

  • Identify your team member’s strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Provide opportunities for growth through training, mentoring, and challenging projects.

  • Regularly check in on their career aspirations and work together to achieve them.

8. Managing Expectations

Managing expectations from peers, superiors, or team members can be a delicate balancing act. You need to ensure that expectations are realistic, achievable, and beneficial for all.

As an individual contributor, your role is to complete the task assigned to you for the project. You are not expected to lead the entire team and solve their problems.

However, when you become a manager, your team members will look to you for clear direction, consistent feedback, and support in their professional growth. The business will expect you to deliver their projects smoothly and promptly. Your leaders will expect you to manage the team with little noise.

Practical Advice

  • Be clear about your team’s objectives and alignment with the broader company goals.

  • Be realistic in setting goals. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

  • Feel free to reset expectations if circumstances change.

  • Regularly communicate progress and setbacks.

Take Away: Top Challenges of a New Manager

Stepping into a managerial role for the first time can feel like embarking on a thrilling yet challenging journey. The hurdles can be numerous, from mastering the art of delegation to effectively managing expectations.

But remember, every accomplished leader started where you are now — at the beginning.

The challenges outlined in this article are not obstacles meant to impede your progress but opportunities for learning and growth. The practical advice and strategies shared can serve as your compass, guiding you through unfamiliar terrains and helping you navigate the complexities of leadership.

By being aware of these common challenges and planning to take proactive steps to overcome them, you’re already on the path to becoming a successful leader.

Good luck on your leadership journey.

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