Most employees promoted to the role of the manager are the ones who are the star performers and high-potential employees.
However, assuming that individuals who are great at their job will be equally great managers is pushing luck. This is because the skills needed to become a great manager are vastly different from those needed to succeed as an individual contributor.
It is hardly a surprise that great, star employees often struggle as new managers. In fact, statistics reveal that six out of ten managers said the challenges associated with managing this career transition come second only to dealing with divorce! And with dispersed teams and remote working becoming the new normal, the management challenges have got more complicated.
Here are five challenges managers face and need to find solutions to navigate this new world of work without losing their minds.
Manage ‘transition anxiety’
The ‘new manager’ story is quite familiar. Mostly, employees work hard to get promoted to the role of the manager. And while the new managers are excited about their new roles, the reality hits home – that they are essentially alone, they are unsure of what is really expected of them, and they have to navigate this new realm of work by building new connections (mostly without the support of their trusted group of peers).
Many new managers, especially technical managers, end up battling these feelings, or “transition anxiety” mainly because they and the organizations they work for are solely focused on building their ‘hard skills’. However, it is the soft skills that give the power needed to blaze through this new role and establish credibility.
Organizations thus need to help their new managers build their power or soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration skills, communication skills, or the other skills needed to build new networks and manage their job roles. By doing this, organizations can ably help them manage this transition anxiety and move on to become strong, resilient managers.
Building trust is one of the hardest jobs of a new manager. It gets even harder in this new normal characterized by the lack of physical interactions and the rise of remote working. It can be hard to build authentic connections in the absence of face-to-face conversations. It can be complicated to understand team dynamics. Understanding how each individual team member operates and how to motivate them can be gargantuan. As such, it can become harder to build trust.
It is imperative to learn and decode the management style that will work in today’s environment. Therefore, organizations must coach new managers on behaviors that build trust, enable them to lead by example, and help them establish their credibility by building trust.
Re-thinking meetings and navigating the communication chasm
Remote working amplifies existing challenges considerably. For new managers, this can make it inherently harder to navigate the organization and establish a balanced relationship with their teams. Understanding processes that work and the ones that don’t within the teams and discovering new methods to connect with the team become essential to drive high-performance. For this, new managers might need to re-think meetings and communication patterns.
Meetings, for example, have to become more efficient. For this, the new managers need to develop capabilities like understanding collaboration requirements, setting meeting objectives clearly, and ensuring participation. Choosing the right meeting format and technology, translating how objectives will translate into activity, how to integrate break-out effectively, etc. become important skills to lead the team efficiently. For this, they need direction on how to communicate effectively by building empathy and understanding, both of the work and of the people.
Establishing a leadership style
Becoming a new manager is a far cry from the days when becoming a manager meant becoming a boss with a capital ‘B.’ Today, managers need effective leadership styles that are relevant and drive outcomes rather than drive team members crazy.
New managers have to understand the tenets of leadership to become leaders who work tirelessly to grow their team members. They need to learn to be respectful and yet, authoritative. They need to be problem-solvers without spoon-feeding their team. They have to learn to be respectful, intuitive, and empathetic to gain the trust of their team members.
Organizations need to coach new managers to understand the dynamics of their new job roles and help them care for their team members. Coaching helps them progress along their career trajectories while making sure that the team remains highly productive and motivated irrespective of their location.
Conflict and change management
Managers spend a lot of time managing conflict and change. Since the world of work has become enveloped in a myriad of interdependencies, new managers have to work on developing robust communication strategies to manage these complexities emerging out of change and conflict.
They must develop empathy levels and work on improving their emotional quotient while remaining on the path of continuous personal development. This is essential as most new managers struggle to work out effective solutions either because they cannot understand a problem from the perspective of the employee experiencing it. They might also be lacking in the emotional vocabulary required to empathize without judgment and provide the right solution.
Developing strong conflict resolution capabilities becomes essential especially as the world of work is in a constant state of VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and constant change. New managers need coaching to ably and proactively navigate and avoid conflict when possible and take rapid and effective steps when it presents itself. Quite naturally, organizations have to help new managers understand the slippery slopes of conflict management and help them develop robust conflict management styles.
Along with all of these traits, organizations need to help new managers develop a positive perspective, balance productivity with well-being, improve decision-making capabilities, and help them deliver greater value to the organization.
It can be challenging to be a new manager. With the remote work situation becoming a mainstay, the challenge becomes even greater. It can be isolating for new managers to establish their authority as for most it means that they are no longer a ‘part of the crew’ and that relationships at work aren’t the same as when they were individual contributors. Instead of trying to get on to the ‘good side’ of people to navigate their new job role, new managers need the support to identify how to ‘connect’ with their team members in honest, authentic, and impactful ways.
Try our 60-days free trial to understand how an AI-driven coaching platform can give your new managers the head start they need to assume and traverse their new roles with dexterity and confidence.