The challenges of becoming a manager

It sounds fantastic in theory doesn’t it, being offered a promotion to the next rung of your career ladder, finally in charge of your own team. Whether you’ve been working hard towards it for a long time, or it’s a more of a surprise proposition, chances are you feel pretty chuffed and excited about the new responsibility and boost to your bank account.

But in reality, starting in your management role with its new expectations and different priorities can be really daunting, especially if you’ve had little prior experience of overseeing a team.

A few ‘new manager mountains’ you might face…

  • A change in focus: You’ve been used to doing the day-to-day work yourself, putting in the hours as an individual contributor. Now you’re required to take a step back and give instruction to others as a leader, monitoring their performance and serving their needs.
  • Fewer pats on the back: As a manager there’s no longer a boss giving you praise and thanks for a job well done – because now you are that boss. You need to be giving out the praise, often without anyone doing the same for you, which can be tough.
  • Learning to delegate: Lots of new managers find it difficult to delegate. It’s hard to break out of habitual patterns, you might feel guilty or uncomfortable asking other people to take on a task, or feel like important things won’t be done to your standards. The danger is you’ll end up trying to do more work than is possible for one person and leave other team members feeling undervalued.
  • Your success is measured through the performance of others. Rather than appraised on the work you personally deliver, your performance is now judged by how your team performs. This is a big mental shift, and involves realising the importance of investing in your team members’ motivation and personal development.
  • Mastering completely new skills: being a great manager involves a whole rack of new skills from delegation to coaching and giving feedback. Learning to communicate effectively and to support your team members’ development and wellbeing are essential at your new level.
  • Loneliness: As the saying goes, ‘it’s lonely at the top’. You’re now set apart from other colleagues, mentally or even physically in your own office, and might feel you have no-one to turn to. It’s really important to establish a support network, whether with other managers or with a mentor or coach.
  • A change in relationships: You may find yourself managing people who were previously your peers, which does change how you relate to each other. In a role directing and serving them, you can’t off-load or share as much as before, and you may even face jealousy or resentment at you being in charge.

Turn the mountains into molehills

While all this sounds overwhelming, the good news is there are experts out there to help you. Willow & Puddifoot can support you seamlessly in your transition to manager, providing tailored, flexible courses on management skills and development, teaching you practical approaches and building your confidence to ensure you flourish in your new role.

Find out more here.

Louise is hosting a talk on Managers make or break employee wellbeing for the CIPD on 27th February, if you’d like to attend sign up here.

the challenges of becoming a manager