So you have a new job, or have been recently promoted. You are now moving on from doing things to getting things done. This is not always an easy transition, even to the most mature person. But when you are in your twenties this can particularly be a daunting challenge.
As Peter F Drucker told us, we, the workers and managers of the 21st century have to manage three things in order to be effective.We must manage ourselves, our work, and manage others too; all at the same time.
And in your role as a new manager or supervisor, you will face many challenges in doing so. In this post, I will outline some of the many challenges new managers and supervisors face.
In future posts, I will take each challenge and explain why it is important and what you can do to overcome them.
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list because different people face different challenges as new managers. I am beginning this series by just listing the most common ones. Over time, you can let me know in comments what other challenges you face and a new manager and I will address them one by one.
Challenge 01: Dealing with your former co-workers who are now no longer your peers. They are now your subordinates.
Challenge 02: You have now moved from doing things to getting things done. This means getting into an entirely different mindset. It requires an enormous shift in how you approach work.
Challenge 03: Being too proud to ask questions. We see this in the Universities. And we see it in the workplace. It can really get you into one place: trouble.
Challenge 04: Giving instructions clearly. Not everyone is good at it. We may be good at taking instructions, but not necessarily at giving them. And most of the time, we don’t even know that we don’t know how to do it right. Most managers are amazed when I demonstrate with an exercise how bad they are at giving instructions.
Challenge 5: Being open to answering questions. Many questions. Some consider subordinates asking questions as a form of insubordination or sign of disrespect. But they may be just trying to clarify how to do well what you asked them to do..
Challenge 6: Admitting failures. Trust me, there will be many failures and mistakes on your part. Be ready to admit them, regardless of who points it out. This is not always easy, or painless, but it has to be done.
Challenge 7: Taking criticism is a key challenge. Many of us are unable to take criticism in a positive way, and making it a way to improve ourselves. Whether the criticism is fair or unfair, whether its constructive or destructive, we need to be able to deal with it, with dignity.
Challenge 8: Developing a Growth Mindset is an essential to being a good ‘boss’ to anyone. And it is a critical quality for successfully climbing your career ladder. A growth mindset person does not fear failure or setbacks. They learn from them and thrive. They do not take criticism and wilt. Instead they flourish by working to change what they need to. Failures really are the pillars to success. But only people with a growth mindset know that.
Challenge 9: Offering constructive criticism to others is a huge challenge to many new managers and supervisors. One issue is that they may be dealing with their former peers. But beyond that issue, all managers need to cultivate the skill of offering constructive criticism in the workplace. They must also know to avoid harsh words and destructive criticism. Cultivating a growth mindset will help you offer constructive criticism and encouragement to your subordinates, encouraging in them a growth mindset as well.
Challenge 10: Time management and personal productivity. A lot of people have trouble managing their time, not just new managers. This is bad enough when you are just doing work, but when you are getting things done by other, it is going to complicate your life and compound your troubles. And where you have time management issues, you will inevitably have issues with personal productivity. However, these are challenges that anyone with a reasonable mind and a bit of discipline and overcome.
Challenge 11: Public speaking. A lot more people than we suspect have a fear of getting up and voicing their ideas and opinions in public. They find it difficult to make a presentation or give a short speech or offer a vote of thank. But this is a challenge you need to overcome if you want a successful career.
Challenge 12: Problem solving and decision making. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that. If we are told things from a young age, rather than taught why we should make certain choices and how to do it. Our parents and teachers may imagine they are helping us, but too much of spoon feeding that happens in Sri Lanka, at every level and even at university means there are too many young adults who do not possess ability to analyse a situation and solve critical problems. And they have not developed capacity or the skills of decision making. This is a challenge you must overcome in order to succeed in the world of business. Or anywhere for that matter.
Challenge 14: Understanding and setting priorities and knowing the difference between urgent and important (and not urgent and unimportant) is a key challenge for new managers. This eventually comes down to personal productivity and time management. However, unless you learn how to prioritize your work, and can help your subordinates prioritize theirs, you will not be a good manager.
Challenge 15: Developing your own leadership style and a style that is suitable for your current job. We have heard of leadership qualities and leadership styles. But there is no definitive recipe to give you that will suit your particular situation. I see leadership qualities and styles as a tool box. You just carry it around and use the tool or tools appropriate for the situation. This means getting over preconceived notions about what is a ‘good’ style and learning that hybrids can be more effective in certain situations.
Challenge 16: Managing expectations and standards. You are now moving in loftier circles than before. Some companies have different standards for managers and others. And more than ever, you are going to be judged by the results you produce. You have to live up to the expectations and carry your new position and its responsibilities with ease. This is a challenge to many.
Challenge 17: Managing work relationships is another challenge all new managers must undertake. Earlier, as a worker you had peers and bosses. Now you have peers, bosses and subordinates. You need to retain your trust and integrity while working with all these groups and it may not always be easy because as a manager or supervisor you cannot afford to take sides. And when you must you need to do it with care.
This list is long and may appear endless to you. However, these are just the most common challenges you will face as a new manager or supervisor.
I will also address each of these in turn in my future posts.
Please share your thoughts in the comments.