Are Your New Managers Facing These Common (and Preventable) Challenges?

by Mike O'Neill

Promoting a high-performer from within your organization seemed like a good idea. Now their department is in chaos and everyone underneath them is unhappy — but why?

You’re certain they have everything a good manager should have, so why are they failing? 

They were active listeners and well-liked by their co-workers. They were strategic thinkers, and very passionate about their work and contributing to the companies’ success. 

Now they’re stressed out, not communicating well with you or their team, and their employees’ productivity has taken a nose-dive. How did this happen?

If this sounds like the situation you’re in, don’t worry — you’re not alone! 

3 Preventable Challenges for New Managers

Keep reading to learn how to save your rookie manager from the most common (and preventable) challenges that could be tripping them up.

Challenge #1. Managing Former Co-Workers

Receiving a promotion comes with a mix of excitement and fear when you’re a rookie. They welcome this new challenge, but it’s a lot of responsibility, so the fear of screwing up is pretty common.

They want to do their best and make you proud to show how grateful they are to be given this fantastic opportunity, but sometimes things beyond their control get in the way. When you promote someone who hasn’t been employed as long as other members of the team, it can cause some serious tension.

Other employees may feel they deserved the promotion more and are resentful. They may refuse to listen to the rookie manager, or underhandedly find ways to undermine them or make them look bad.

On the flip side, your rookie manager may have such a close bond with their team, that they aren’t stepping up and taking the lead. They could be allowing their team too much freedom and not giving them enough direction or boundaries to work within. 

Each of these situations presents unique challenges, and they can often present themselves in similar ways, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on unless you’re in the trenches, watching it happen.

As the senior manager, you need to take charge and help your rookie manager fit into their new role at the beginning. You can’t throw them in, say “good luck!” and expect it to end well. Follow these tips to help your rookie manager establish their new authority and get comfortable running their team:

  • Announce the promotion to the group as a united front. Explain who is getting promoted, why you chose them for the promotion, and explain how their promotion will impact the rest of the team moving forward.
  • Lead by example when it comes to the chain of command. If one of their employees reaches out to you for questions vs. going to their new manager, don’t answer their question. Tell them that’s a question for their manager, not you, and reach out to the manager to make sure they’re made aware and get it taken care of.
  • When someone comes to you with problems they’re having with the rookie manager, don’t dismiss them or just agree with them and drop it. Get the rookie manager involved in an open discussion and mediate to resolve the conflict. Don’t allow it to sit and fester because it’ll poison your culture.
  • Schedule frequent one-on-one meetings with the rookie manager to check in on them and see how they’re doing. Allow them to vent to you and share any problems they’re having with their team or the new role to solve them together.

Challenge #2. Managing Their New Responsibilities

Managing projects, managing time, and managing people are all separate skill sets, and being good at one doesn’t make you good at all of them. Good managers need to excel in all three of these areas, and if they don’t, they’re going to struggle.

For example, maybe they were great at managing projects on their own, but not so great at working with a team. Or perhaps they were great with managing their time, but managing projects is too overwhelming.

As rookie managers, they won’t intuitively know tips and tools that could help them, and if you don’t provide them, they aren’t likely to learn. Training takes time and costs money, however, so you need to get them up to speed fast.

Documenting their job description, new responsibilities, and the processes and procedures they should follow is the first place you should start — assuming you haven’t done this already.

Doing so allows your rookie manager to be confident they’re doing their jobs correctly, it speeds up the training time required, enables them to focus on developing the skills they need to learn to be successful in their new role.

The best skills to teach your managers when you want them to excel are:

  • Active Listening
  • Communication
  • Team Building
  • Conflict Resolution 
  • Self-Awareness & Personal Growth
  • Project Management
  • Time Management

When you need to train your rookie managers in these areas, don’t try to do it alone. Just sending them books to read or courses to watch isn’t enough. They need a customized training program that teaches them the skills they need to learn the most, and helps them set and achieve personal and professional goals. 

At Bench Builders, we’ve been customizing management training programs for years. We’re experts at helping your managers discover their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll help them leverage their strengths and upskill on what they’re weak on so they can succeed. 

Challenge #3. Hiring and Firing

Hiring new people is exciting, but it’s also stressful, and firing people is hard on anyone — rookie or not. These are two crucial situations where your rookie manager should never have to operate alone without guidance at the start.

Leaving them to their own devices can have some pretty disastrous consequences. They may hire someone for the wrong reasons, resulting in a hire that can’t perform the job — or, even worse, is toxic to the culture. 

74% of companies admit losing an average of $14,900 for one bad hire, but that’s just on average. A bad hire could potentially cost you up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. 

Bad hires aren’t the only thing that could go wrong. Maybe their first time rejecting someone for a job or firing them results in an expensive lawsuit. 

In this day and age, it’s really easy to offend someone by accident, so tactfulness in delivering bad news is crucial. Your inexperienced manager may say the wrong thing to the wrong person without a pre-approved script and practice what to say. 

This doesn’t mean you need to supervise the situation every time personally. You only need to provide a script and allow your rookie manager to role-play it with you a few times to prepare. 

This extra practice helps them feel confident and gives you an opportunity to test them with different reactions the person they’re speaking to would likely have.

Train Your Rookie Managers

With the havoc a rookie manager can rain down upon your business, you can’t afford not to invest in management training. A word of caution, though. Don’t run out and sign up for the first training program you can find with good reviews and a reasonable price.

Many management training programs you’ll find have a “cookie-cutter” approach. They attempt to train your manager on every little possible thing that might be relevant to their role.

While this sounds good in theory and might be less expensive upfront, it will cost you more in the long run. Your rookie manager will be learning things they’re already familiar with or good at vs. training that focuses on their weak areas. This makes it take much longer for them to get through training, which costs you more money.

When you sign up for management training with Bench Builders, you won’t get a cookie-cutter approach. We take the time to do an audit of your company and get to know your rookie managers in person. We’ll even give them some assessments to find out what areas they need training on the most.

Find out more about our customized training program by visiting our management training page and contact us when you’re ready to get your rookie manager the help they need to succeed.

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