12 Challenges First-time Managers Have

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An individual contributor or professional getting promoted into his or her first formal leadership position in an organization is one of the biggest and most difficult transitions for any leader. Far too often, the leader and the organization take for granted just how difficult that transition is.

And the numbers prove it: 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job according to their subordinates, 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others to begin with, and almost 60% said they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.

No wonder 50% of managers in organizations are ineffective. Their ineffectiveness may be the result of not realizing what they are getting themselves into when it comes to leading others, not being supported in their new leadership role, and not being given the opportunity for training and development early enough in their careers as leaders.

Think of the time and money that has to be spent on replacing these ineffective leaders, not to mention dealing with the low morale and disengagement of employees working under these ineffective leaders. This inevitably hurts your leadership pipeline and may eventually hurt your organization’s bottom line.

First-time managers have as much of a right for leadership development as others, but their voices, time and time again, go unheard. They want to do well but so often are struggling at making the transition from individual contributor or professional who does the work and does it well, to a leader who must continue to do the work and more importantly, leads others doing their work. Many first-time managers feel that no one understands what they are going through.

So what can you do to help?

Here’s a simple and doable solution: Understand the struggles first-time managers have and help them overcome the challenges relevant to their new leadership role.

This white paper backs the effort by:

    1. Presenting the 12 challenges first-time managers have, as found by researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Davidson College.
    2. Specifically providing detail with the three most-often mentioned challenges:
      • Adjustment To People Management/ Displaying Authority
      • Developing Managerial & Personal Effectiveness
      • Leading Team Achievement
    3. Offering ways for you to help first-time managers effectively deal with these challenges.

The information from this white paper will help you understand the perspective of first-time managers and the struggles they have. You can use the information to support first-time managers
in the most difficult transition they have made so far in their careers, develop them as leaders, and ultimately, strengthen your leadership pipeline.

Introduction

“As my role transitions from one where I was responsible for my own work as a chemist to now being responsible for leading a team of chemists (in addition to finishing out the current project which I started previously) I find myself lacking the internal tools to effectively do my job. Before I was a good-to-excellent chemist. Now I am an OK chemist and OK manager. Further, many of the attributes which gained me recognition as a chemist are now hampering me as a manager.”

This is what it feels like to be leading other people for the first time in your life in organizations. These quotes from first-time managers (FTMs) give you a glimpse into the difficulties, struggles, and challenges that FTMs face every single day. Their technical savvy, the stuff that helped them get that promotion to management in the first place, won’t fix everything anymore. They can’t concentrate solely on their own work anymore. Now, they are the boss. Now, they have to understand, motivate, and meet the needs of others, many of whom they worked alongside with previously. And these difficulties, struggles, and challenges are not from just a few people.

Many FTMs are part of the largest population of leaders in your organization right now: frontline managers in entry- or first-levels of management. FTMs are your next generation of leaders, the pipeline for the top leadership positions of your organization, and represent the leadership bench strength of your organization. Clearly they are an organizational imperative to success. Yet, the numbers suggest they aren’t treated that way.

Click here to read the full White Paper

“Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”- Reed Markham