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This article was published on September 30, 2014

Top 9 struggles new managers face (but you don’t have to)

Top 9 struggles new managers face (but you don’t have to)
Elli Bishop
Story by

Elli Bishop

Elli Bishop is the community manager for The Daily Buzz, the BusinessBee blog. BusinessBee is a place for business owners and executives to Elli Bishop is the community manager for The Daily Buzz, the BusinessBee blog. BusinessBee is a place for business owners and executives to discover and compare various business service providers.

Elli Bishop is the community manager for BusinessBee, a place for business owners and executives to discover and compare various business service providers. This article originally appeared on the 15Five blog.

Do you remember when you were first hired as a manager or were promoted from within? Perhaps you founded your first company and had to lead and support a staff for the first time. Just thinking back to those days might make some queasy.

Transitioning to a management role can be a bumpy ride, and many new managers struggle with the same issues — miscommunication, delegating vs doing, and reporting up the ladder. No one gets it all right, right off the bat.

While mistakes often provide excellent learning opportunities, having some guidance will save you from being overwhelmed or embarrassed in your new role. Anticipate these 9 common struggles and you can experience all the fulfillment of people management without the turmoil.

1. Not recognizing individual achievements

Teamwork is crucial in the workplace, and it’s important to praise your team for meeting goals or successfully delivering on a tight deadline. It’s equally important to recognize individual accomplishments and efforts.

Let each employee know when they are making valuable contributions, and recognize that they are becoming better versions of themselves.

2. Not being flexible  

Adhering to a set of antiquated rules and processes, such as insisting everyone be in by 8 am or forbidding employees from working remotely, creates a rigid environment and kills the energy and vitality needed for an organization to succeed.

This doesn’t mean you need to implement an “anything goes” policy. Create an atmosphere and policies that allow your employees to complete their work in their own individual ways, and you’ll find a happier, more productive team.

3. Make it possible to work remotely

Remote work is becoming more common, especially in the tech startup world. Many of these companies foster a work-hard/play-hard culture with blended teams (some employees work in the office and some work remotely). Companies like Stella and Dot and AWeber have fun and vibrant cultures while still allowing employees to get work done effectively outside the office.

Remote access, video chat, and a variety of messaging apps are changing the face of business. You can satisfy your employees’ desires for work-life balance by using technology to provide flexible work arrangements.

For example, research done by HighSpeedInternet shows a clear correlation between happiness and the internet access people have in their homes. Reliable connectivity is allowing workers in states like Minnesota and North Dakota to enjoy innovative employment arrangements that afford them the flexibility to enjoy a rural lifestyle, without sacrificing exciting, higher-paying opportunities.

4. Being too distant

While you don’t want to be too hands-on, another mistake a new manager may make is being too hands-off. When employees are given space and autonomy, they naturally access their greatest creativity. But you can’t just give them direction and then disappear.

Ask employees questions on a regular basis. Among other benefits this ensures that they are aligned with company goals. Hold 1-on-1s and team meetings to delve deeper into challenges and misalignments. Not only does this help develop healthy professional relationships, it also allows you to steer your employees in the right direction and correct any miscommunication early on.

5. Not accepting feedback

New or young managers may feel insecure in their newly acquired position. When this is the case, it’s easy to become defensive or feel threatened when feedback comes your way.

Feedback from superiors as well as your direct reports provides a valuable opportunity to learn and grow. It can also provide new insights from front-line employees who are more in tune with customer needs.

6. Not getting to know people

Many new managers fail to look past an employee’s job title. Once you know more about your team on an individual basis, you can make appropriate assignments based on the unique personalities, goals, and backgrounds of each person.

Leverage each employee’s talents by providing them with the opportunity to work in their zone of genius, then watch them thrive.

7. Failing to define objectives and strategies

If you find yourself becoming frustrated with your employees’ lack of direction or accomplishments, step back and take a look at your own communication. Did you clearly define your project or department’s goals and strategies? If not, the failure to meet your objectives is likely the result of poor instruction.

Be clear and simple in your communications to keep confusion at a minimum.

8. Not delegating work

A department or organization’s success (or lack thereof) is often seen as a reflection of its management. For this reason, new managers sometimes make the mistake of taking everything on themselves.

This relates back to trust. You either trust your employees to do their jobs or you don’t, and taking over their tasks because you think your way is best tells them you don’t trust them. Be confident in your employees’ abilities, and then allow them to do the jobs they’ve been hired to do.

9. Holding people accountable

In any professional organization, there are duties and objectives that must be completed for the good of the company. But holding people accountable is not your sole responsibility. Make everyone’s objectives public so that the entire team can hold each other accountable.

Don’t be afraid to hold the bar high. Be clear in your expectations, provide honest feedback, and encourage everyone to do the same.

These classic new manager mistakes don’t have to be a rite of passage. You can avoid them by adopting the right values and implementing them in the workplace.

By trusting in your employees and providing them with autonomy and encouragement, you can simultaneously make intelligent business decisions and create an environment that allows your employees and your business to flourish.

What struggles have you faced as a new manager, and how did you overcome them?

Read next: 12 things product managers should do in their first 30 days at a new company


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