What Are the Biggest Challenges First Time Managers Face?

Young business woman presentation on white backgroundOn December 3, The Ken Blanchard Companies is hosting a free Leadership Livecast on what every new leader needs to know as they get promoted to their first management position.  Ken Blanchard will be heading up an exploration into the challenges new managers face. Over 3,000 people are expected to attend online.

At LeaderChat, we’ve been following this topic for several years.  Below are some of the recurring themes we’ve seen.  What would you add to this list?

In a blog post on Avoiding New Manager Syndrome we highlighted BNET columnist Jessica Stillman sharing reactions she got from readers to a blog she wrote, What’s the First Thing New Managers Need to Learn?  According to Stillman, here are some of the symptoms that afflict the under-trained management newbie:

  • Providing reports with too much “helpful” advice
  • Trying to show confidence by refusing to admit weaknesses or mistakes
  • Missing the mark with recognition through overdone or meaningless kudos to staff
  • Working 12-hour days to complete all work individually, instead of delegating

In a post entitled New Managers–Don’t Fall into these Common Traps, we highlighted an article by Blanchard senior consulting partner Ann Phillips.  In addition to agreeing with the common trap of leaders doing the work themselves, Phillips added two more challenges she often sees.

  • Not setting clear roles and goals. This is especially challenging for new managers who have been promoted from within a group of peers.
  • Difficulty balancing accountability and caring. Sometimes new managers think they have to choose between people and performance. Phillips recommends new managers balance high expectations with equally high levels of support and caring.

Most recently, we highlighted Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard’s thinking on 3 Ways Good Leaders Get Conversations Wrong.  The two authors identify that leaders mishandle performance related conversations by:

  • Plunging ahead in an inappropriate setting with negative consequences. For example, you bump into a direct report who has a question, and before you realize it the dialogue touches on topics that are potentially sensitive, emotional, or confrontational.
  • Not staying focused on the topic at hand. As a rule, leaders should focus on one subject at a time—especially when a conversation is about feedback or necessary behavior change.
  • Poor listening or an inability to find common ground. When leaders don’t listen well or are unable to reach a shared understanding, they tend to focus on only their side of the conversation.

What’s your experience?  What are some other situations that are especially challenging for first time managers?  Add your thoughts in the comments section below.  You’ll see them appear here—and perhaps also during the December Livecast.

PS:  For more information on the Livecast, check out the web page at www.kenblanchard.com/livecast

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