What’s the Biggest Challenge for First-Time Managers? Here’s How 146 People Answered the Question

In a webinar on first-time management last week, we asked the 900+ people in attendance to share their biggest challenge as a first-time manager.  It was open ended so people could type in whatever came to mind.  The chat box was soon bursting with 146 responses.

I’ll summarize the major buckets as I saw them, but I encourage you (after you read this, of course!) to click on the graphic and read what people said in their own words.  This exercise paints a very human picture of the challenges new managers face when they first make the jump from individual contributor to supervising the work of others.

Here’s how I categorized things:

146 First-Time Manager ChallengesThe vast majority of challenges dealt with people issues—things like managing former peers (about 20% of responses), managing conflict, improving morale, building trust, earning respect (about 15%), or working with older or more experienced team members (about 13%.)

The second biggest bucket contained performance management issues. This included setting goals, providing day-to-day feedback, coaching, redirection, and year-end performance review (about 13%.)

The topic of the third big bucket was personal concerns about the new role and included time management, prioritization, and finding balance along with trying to do it all and live up to expectations (about 15%.)

These findings are similar to what we have been seeing in an ongoing survey we’ve been conducting to inform the development of The Ken Blanchard Companies new First-time Manager program.

First-time Manager OverviewThat research, combined with extensive interviews of managers and client organizations, helped us develop a curriculum for first-time managers that focuses on four essential communication skills—Listening, Inquiring, Telling Your Truth, and Expressing Confidence—together with four performance related conversations all new managers needs to master.

The four conversations were drawn from the three key principles in Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s best-selling book The New One Minute Manager®— Goal setting, Praising, and Redirecting—and joined by a new, fourth conversation, Wrapping Up, which is about bringing closure to goals and tasks.

What categories do you see when you look at the responses?  How do they match up with your experience as a first-time manager?  If you would like to participate in our ongoing research, please use this link to take a short five-minute survey, or just use the comments section below to share a thought or two.  What was your biggest challenge as a first-time manager?

3 thoughts on “What’s the Biggest Challenge for First-Time Managers? Here’s How 146 People Answered the Question

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