The biggest challenge bringing new managers down

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HR professionals may be able to support new managers more effectively following the results of a recent survey, which reveals exactly where wet-behind-the-ears leaders are struggling.

In the Robert Half Management Resources survey, Canadian CFOs were asked to identify the most difficult part of becoming a manager – and most said balancing individual responsibilities with time spent overseeing staff was the biggest snag.

Thirty-eight per cent of the CFOs surveyed said they struggled with the balancing act, followed by 24 per cent who said meeting higher performance expectations was the biggest challenge.

Motivating the team came in third (18 per cent), followed by prioritizing projects (16 per cent) and finally supervising friends or former peers (3 per cent.)

"Transitioning into a new role as a first-time manager can be an intimidating experience, even for someone who has individually had professional success," said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources.

"Beyond the added technical skills, management positions require a unique set of interpersonal skills to adapt to the needs, work tendencies and career aspirations of others,” he added.

King suggested new managers look to their teams for support – “Transparency and partnership on plans and projects demonstrate confidence in employees' abilities, opens up the opportunity for collaboration amongst team members, and frees up time for managers to ensure the business's strategic goals are being met,” he stressed.

The HR services provider also devised 10 essential tips that HR professionals should encourage new managers to follow:
  • Know where to go for help. Learn what resources, including external subject matter experts, are available to you and where you can turn with questions.
  • Identify a mentor. If there is no formal mentorship program, find another manager you can tap for advice or a star peer whose best attributes you want to model.
  • Make sure you have enough staff. Nobody can be successful without adequate support. Bring in new hires and interim professionals as needed.
  • Set expectations. Work with your manager to develop a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan. Communicate the goals to staff to ensure you have a shared vision of success.
  • Establish boundaries. Explain what you will expect from former peers and pals and what they can expect from you. The new relationship status is not easy for them either. Acknowledging it upfront is a great way to ease tension and uncertainty.
  • Use your calendar wisely. Schedule regular meetings with your direct reports, but also block off times to focus on your individual responsibilities.
  • Enter with a light hand. If you force too many changes or overburden staff, they may revolt. Take a collaborative approach, and let them have a say in decisions.
  • Find your style, but be flexible. Whenever possible, tailor your management style to each employee, and change tactics if something isn't working.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself. You want to succeed in the new job, but cut yourself some slack. If your staff sees you putting in earnest effort and working with them to improve the organization, they'll rally around you.
  • Have fun. Bringing levity to your role makes you more likeable. Keeping the mood light also boosts morale and helps people stay poised under pressure.
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