By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Most employees promoted to the role of the manager are the ones who are the star performers and high-potential employees

However, assuming that individuals who are great at their job will be equally great managers is pushing the luck. This is because the skills needed to become a great manager are vastly different from those needed to succeed as an individual contributor. 

It is hardly a surprise that great, star employees often struggle as new managers. In fact, statistics reveal that six out of ten managers said the challenges associated with managing this career transition come second only to dealing with divorce! And with dispersed teams and remote working becoming the new normal, the challenges for new managers have got more complicated. 

Here are seven challenges that new managers need to find solutions to navigate this new world of work without losing their minds.

Read: Common Mistakes Managers Make While Coaching Their Teams

Manage ‘transition anxiety’

The ‘new manager’ story is quite familiar. Mostly, employees work hard to get promoted to the role of the manager. And while the new managers are excited about their new roles, the reality hits home – that they are essentially alone, they are unsure of what is really expected of them, and they have to navigate this new realm of work by building new connections (mostly without the support of their trusted group of peers). 

Many new managers, especially technical managers, end up battling these feelings, or “transition anxiety” mainly because they and the organizations they work for are solely focused on building their ‘hard skills’. However, it is the soft skills that give the power needed to blaze through this new role and establish credibility. 

Organizations thus need to help their new managers build their power or soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration skills, communication skills, or the other skills needed to build new networks and manage their job roles. By doing this, organizations can ably help them manage this transition anxiety and move on to become strong, resilient managers. 

Build trust 

Building trust is one of the hardest jobs of a new manager. It gets even harder in this new normal characterized by the lack of physical interactions and the rise of remote working. It can be hard to build authentic connections in the absence of face-to-face conversations. It can be complicated to understand team dynamics. Understanding how each individual team member operates and how to motivate them can be gargantuan. As such, it can become harder to build trust.

It is imperative to learn and decode the management style that will work in today’s environment. Therefore, organizations must coach new managers on behaviors that build trust, enable them to lead by example, and help them establish their credibility by building trust. 

Re-thinking meetings and navigating the communication chasm 

Remote working amplifies existing challenges considerably. For new managers, this can make it inherently harder to navigate the organization and establish a balanced relationship with their teams. Understanding processes that work and the ones that don’t within the teams and discovering new methods to connect with the team become essential to drive high-performance.  For this, new managers might need to re-think meetings and communication patterns. 

Meetings, for example, have to become more efficient. For this, the new managers need to develop capabilities like understanding collaboration requirements, setting meeting objectives clearly, and ensuring participation. Choosing the right meeting format and technology, translating how objectives will translate into activity, how to integrate break-out effectively, etc. become important skills to lead the team efficiently. For this, they need direction on how to communicate effectively by building empathy and understanding, both of the work and of the people. 

Establishing a leadership style 

Becoming a new manager is a far cry from the days when becoming a manager meant becoming a boss with a capital ‘B.’ Today, managers need effective leadership styles that are relevant and drive outcomes rather than drive team members crazy. 

New managers have to understand the tenets of leadership to become leaders who work tirelessly to grow their team members. They need to learn to be respectful and yet, authoritative. They need to be problem-solvers without spoon-feeding their team. They have to learn to be respectful, intuitive, and empathetic to gain the trust of their team members. 

Organizations need to coach new managers to understand the dynamics of their new job roles and help them care for their team members. Coaching helps them progress along their career trajectories while making sure that the team remains highly productive and motivated irrespective of their location. 

Conflict and change management 

Managers spend a lot of time managing conflict and change. Since the world of work has become enveloped in a myriad of interdependencies, new managers have to work on developing robust communication strategies to manage these complexities emerging out of change and conflict.

They must develop empathy levels and work on improving their emotional quotient while remaining on the path of continuous personal development. This is essential as most new managers struggle to work out effective solutions either because they cannot understand a problem from the perspective of the employee experiencing it. They might also be lacking in the emotional vocabulary required to empathize without judgment and provide the right solution.

Developing strong conflict resolution capabilities becomes essential especially as the world of work is in a constant state of VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and constant change. New managers need coaching to ably and proactively navigate and avoid conflict when possible and take rapid and effective steps when it presents itself. Quite naturally, organizations have to help new managers understand the slippery slopes of conflict management and help them develop robust conflict management styles. 

In Conclusion

Along with all of these traits, organizations need to help new managers develop a positive perspective, balance productivity with well-being, improve decision-making capabilities, and help them deliver greater value to the organization.

It can be challenging to be a new manager. With the remote work situation becoming a mainstay, the challenge becomes even greater. It can be isolating for new managers to establish their authority as for most it means that they are no longer a ‘part of the crew’ and that relationships at work aren’t the same as when they were individual contributors. Instead of trying to get on to the ‘good side’ of people to navigate their new job role, new managers need the support to identify how to ‘connect’ with their team members in honest, authentic, and impactful ways. 

Connect with us to understand how an AI-driven coaching platform can give your new managers the head start they need to assume and traverse their new roles with dexterity and confidence. 

 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Worldwide, organizations are investing heavily in employee training and leadership development programs. But research points out a disconcerting fact. 

According to studies, while 99% of organizations offer management training programs, 87% of first-time managers from those organizations felt that they needed more training to prepare for their job role. Given that new managers are making a leap from being individual contributors to leading a team, this can be quite a challenging transition to make.

Most organizations promote their high-performing individuals to managerial roles. But even the most talented and star employee can face hurdles and stumble as he/she settles into this new identity. 

Quite obviously, organizations need to give more than a pay hike, an induction meet, a day-long training program, and a ‘good luck’ handshake to make sure that these managers can lead high-performing teams.

Here are a few things to focus on to coach managers for success.

Develop people management skills

One of the biggest changes that a first-time manager has to internalize is transitioning from working in a group to being responsible for creating the right work environment. The focus thus automatically shifts towards developing their people skills.

New managers have to be coached on recognizing the needs of their team members, developing empathy to understand team challenges, and improving their problem-solving, critical, and strategic thinking skills.

We have often heard that “People don’t leave organizations. They leave managers”. Since managers have a significant impact on team performance, employee morale, and employee engagement, organizations have to identify the people management skills their new managers lack and coach them on the same. This can help them create better nurture and enable relationships with their team members.

Develop the Emotional Intelligence

While intelligence and technical skills might be important to take on the role of the manager, developing Emotional Intelligence is what is going to help managers succeed in their roles. 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to realize, comprehend, and manage individual emotions and recognize and influence the emotions of those around you as well. It is what sets apart a good leader from a great one.

Research shows that EQ is the strongest predictor of performance. It is also the trait that most effective leaders have. Emotional Intelligence comprises of four core competencies:

Self-awareness – The ability to understand personal strengths and weaknesses. Working with colleagues who are not self-aware can cut a team’s chance of success to half.  

Self-management – The capability to manage and regulate emotions especially in stressful situations and retain a positive attitude despite setbacks.

Social awareness – The capability to assess and understand other’s emotions and the dynamics at play. It involves developing empathy to understand the feelings and challenges of colleagues to communicate and collaborate more effectively with them.

Relationship management – The ability to coach, influence, and mentor others, provide positive reinforcement, and effectively resolve conflict. Unresolved conflict can waste almost eight hours of company time in unproductive activities such as gossip, which can drain resource morale and lead to low team performance.

Coaching new managers to develop their Emotional Intelligence helps in promoting healthy team collaboration. It also generates better employee engagement and leads to happier and more productive teams.

Guidance for managing age and gender dynamics  

For the first time, there are five generations at work together. These generations have their own dynamics at play. A majority of the workforce is also made up of the millennials, a generation defined by their focus on ‘value’ and ‘purpose’. Then there are the baby boomers, a task-based generation that has different motivations working for them. Gen X and then Gen Z are two other generations who are poles apart in their approach, drive, and motivations for work.

New managers have to be coached to learn effective strategies to connect with each of these generations. They need coaching on how to generate awareness, resolve conflict, build relationships, and communicate with them effectively.

Managers also have to be coached heavily to manage gender dynamics within their teams. Coaching helps them understand how to identify issues, address challenges, communicate, and chart career paths, be sensitive to diversity and inclusion initiatives

This often demands a rewiring and reprogramming of old beliefs, which can only be achieved by developing understanding and deep empathy towards others different from us.

Coach for Collaboration

Learning how to foster collaboration is one of the hardest transitions for a new manager. Helping managers to navigate this transition demands coaching them on their communication skills and their ability to motivate their team members and leverage positive reinforcement. It also guides managers to help their team realize their ‘shared purpose’, keep them motivated even in challenging situations, and become a propellant for better performance.

The focus on developing collaboration skills and inspiring collaboration for new managers is also essential since the world of work is now collaborative. We no longer exist and succeed in silos. And to inspire collaboration, managers must lead by example.

A cursory glance at these ‘must-have’ skills reveals that these are ‘power skills’ – skills that are highly complex because of their behavioral nature. But these are essential for individual and organizational success. Organizing a day-long training session for new managers to absorb and internalize these skills is an ineffective strategy since it does not bring about behavioral change. These skills need constant reinforcement and, hence, lend themselves well to coaching. 

By providing a robust coaching and mentoring platform to their new managers, organizations give them access to a ready knowledge base. Coaches can guide new managers and hand-hold them as they transition into their new roles. The coaches also act as information repositories, something new managers can access anytime they face managing issues to drive transformational value. 

Organizations can also enable continuous learning for their new managers by providing timely nudges on aspects they need to improve and then connecting them to the right coach to get them the guidance they need. Doing this ensures that these skills become second nature to the new managers, and they lead their teams, themselves, and, consequently, the organization to success.

Ready to drive employee engagement through internal coaching? Get a demo of NumlyEngage™, the world’s leading, AI-enabled, Skills Coaching and Employee Engagement Platform.