Becoming an executive for the first time is not an easy career goal for most people. Even in companies where leadership development is given considerable attention, rank-and-file professionals are not prepared for all the challenges of an executive position.
We tell you about five unexpected challenges new managers face and ask executives how not to be disappointed in their first months on the job.
An uneasy promotion
There are two ways to become an executive: you were promoted within the company or you moved to a higher position in another company. HR experts say that employees find the first option preferable and less exciting. They already know the company’s culture, the specifics of work and most of their colleagues. The second option is relevant for those who do not see prospects for growth within the company – either the position does not involve vertical development, or the management is not ready to offer an interesting position on suitable terms. The personal experience of an executive: read the article.
No matter how one’s career has turned out, the transition from the role of a line employee to the role of a leader, who must continue to work well “with his hands” and simultaneously manage the team, is not easy for most managers. Emerging managers feel that no one understands what they are going through and the challenges they face. The numbers bear this out:
- According to subordinates, 20% of novice managers don’t do their jobs well.
- 26% of aspiring managers say they were not prepared to lead their team when they started out as a leader.
- Nearly 60% say they did not receive special training before they were first appointed to a leadership position.
That said, it’s often the first executive positions that build a boss’ reputation for decades to come. And CEOs themselves recall their first months in leadership as a transformational experience that shaped their leadership philosophy and style.
Organizations suffer significant human and financial losses when an employee who has been promoted because of his or her strong personal qualities and qualifications fails to successfully adjust to managerial responsibilities. Often newly promoted managers are disoriented and confused: the new role does not feel as it should, and the tasks seem too ambitious.
The first thing new managers discover is that their new role requires more than they expected. The skills needed to succeed as a line employee and those needed to lead successfully are drastically different. In previous positions, success depended on their personal experience and actions, while working as a manager, they are responsible for the performance of the entire team.
5 challenges a new executive faces
Here are the top 5 challenges new leaders face and how to address them.
1. Getting used to managing people and showing authority
New supervisors find it difficult to transition from the role of colleague to that of supervisor while maintaining good personal relationships and gaining the respect of subordinates. Their new status requires them to influence others and coordinate employees who are not directly reporting to them.
Very soon it becomes clear that people do not always do what their boss tells them. And the more talented subordinates are, the less likely they are to simply follow orders.
What to do
At this stage, it is important for managers to demonstrate their competence–knowledge of how to do the right thing. New managers initially feel the need to prove their technical knowledge and skill, but this is not the main area of competence that subordinates are looking for.
Influence plays no small part in building authority – no one likes working for a boss who doesn’t decide anything. And while new managers are “little bosses” who don’t have much power to shape company policy, it pays to earn credibility from the start by creating a network of strong trusting relationships, not just on your team, but throughout the organization.
2. Developing managerial and personal effectiveness
Managers must learn how to be leaders while remaining productive employees. New skills include time management, stress and relationship management, and industry expertise.
What to do
When stepping into a new position, you should give yourself ample time to adjust – if possible, temporarily lower KPIs and drop operational tasks in the first phase. Effective delegation will allow you to do more with less and cope with an increased workload when resources are scarce.
3. Controlling Goal Achievement
New managers need to guide their team: give direction and monitor work, meet deadlines, and improve team collaboration. Most new managers fear that their subordinates will break agreements if they don’t establish a firm framework early on. But an authoritarian management model won’t make you a great team – if people aren’t committed, they won’t take the initiative. And if subordinates don’t take the initiative, the manager can’t delegate effectively.
What to do
The secret is that the more power managers are willing to share with subordinates, the more influence they have. When subordinates take the initiative, the supervisor is able to gain credibility as a leader more quickly.
Even experienced managers often feel uncomfortable giving subordinates negative feedback on the results of their work. It is especially difficult to hold subordinates accountable for their actions and to negotiate with employees who lack ability, knowledge or experience.
What to do
There are a few simple rules to help you reduce the awkwardness of having to criticize your former colleague who has become a subordinate. The criticism should be confidential and specific. In private, explain to the employee how his or her actions have negatively impacted the entire team. It’s also important to focus on the steps ahead, rather than regretting missed opportunities-what we can do now to make things right.
5. Coaching, development, coaching, and motivation
An important part of a manager’s job is to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities of his subordinates, mentoring and coaching team members on their career development.
What to do
Try to make sure that an individual development plan does not become an empty formality on your team. Often first-time managers are wary of asking more experienced leaders for advice, but no one will say you’re not doing a good job if you clarify how the mentoring and motivation system works – a new challenge for someone assigned to manage a team for the first time.
When selecting training for your employees, give preference to short, practical courses. This way you can immediately assess the results and motivation level of each member of your team.