It’s hard to be the boss: how not to get off track at the beginning of a manager’s career


Becoming a manager for the first time is not an easy career task for most people. Even in those companies where significant attention is paid to the development of leadership qualities, ordinary specialists are not ready for all the challenges that a managerial position poses to them.

We talk about five unexpected problems that novice managers face, and we ask managers how not to be disappointed in the appointment in the first months.

Not an easy promotion

You become a manager in two cases: you were promoted within the company, or you moved to a higher position in another company. HR specialists note that employees consider the first option better and less exciting. You are already familiar with the company’s culture, work features and most 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 the appropriate terms.


No matter how the career unfolds, the transition from the role of a line employee to the role of a leader, who must continue to work well with “hands” and at the same time lead a team, is not easy for most managers. New managers feel that no one understands what they are going through and what difficulties they are facing. This is confirmed by the numbers:

  • According to subordinates, 20% of managers do their job poorly.
  • 26% of novice managers believe that they were not ready to lead a team at the start of their work as a manager.
  • Almost 60% say that they did not undergo special training before their first appointment to a managerial position.

At the same time, it is the first managerial positions that often shape the reputation of the chief for decades to come. And the managers themselves recall the first months of managerial work as a transformative experience that shaped their philosophy and leadership style.

Organizations experience significant human and financial losses when an employee who has been promoted due to high personal qualities and qualifications cannot successfully adapt to managerial responsibilities. Often, newly appointed managers feel disoriented and confused: the new role does not feel like it should, and the tasks seem too large.

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 succeed as a leader are dramatically different. In their previous positions, success depended on their personal experience and actions, and working as a manager, they are responsible for the activities of the entire team.

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5 problems faced by a new manager

Here are the top 5 challenges new leaders face and how to overcome them.

1. Getting used to managing people and demonstrating authority

It is difficult for new managers to transition from the role of a colleague to the role of a boss, while maintaining good personal relationships and gaining the respect of subordinates. The new status requires them to influence others and coordinate employees who are not under their direct supervision.

It soon becomes clear that people don’t always do what their boss tells them to do. And that more talented subordinates are less likely to simply follow orders.

What shall I do

At this stage, it is important for managers to demonstrate their competence – the 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 core area of ​​competence sought by subordinates.

Not the last role in creating authority is played by influence – no one likes to work for a boss who does not solve anything. And although new managers are “little bosses” who do not have many opportunities to shape the company’s policy, it is worth earning authority from the beginning, creating a network of strong trust relationships not only in their team, but also in the entire organization.

2. Development of managerial and personal efficiency

Managers must learn to be leaders while remaining productive employees. New skills include time management, stress and relationship management, and industry experience.

What shall I do

When entering a new position, you should give yourself enough time to adapt – if possible, temporarily lower KPIs and refuse to perform operational tasks at the first stage. Effective delegation will allow you to do more with less and cope with increased workloads in the face of a lack of necessary resources.

Volodymyr Tychyna, CPO Timeweb, management experience – 5 years

The first thing I would advise is to learn the basics of management, the same boring, textbook principles of management: how to give feedback correctly, when to give it, how to write individual development plans. Most likely, you will not regularly use this knowledge at work, but it can be useful for point application when it is necessary.

The second piece of advice is that if you are going to be a manager, you should be ready and not be afraid to lose your current friends among colleagues. This is a serious psychological barrier for novice managers. You were promoted, but your colleagues were not. But you will have to work with them, give them feedback, correct the work. Such a situation can cause discomfort on both sides, and you need to be prepared for this.

The third tip is to learn to adapt your leadership style to the needs of the business. It happens that the manager does everything right from the point of view of management, but does not get the expected business effect. To be a manager, you need to develop emotional intelligence, learn to read the people you work with. Each person is unique, and we have to find an approach to him. Some people need control, some need an individual development plan, and some work on inspiration, they don’t need all that, but they need positive feedback once in a while. The basics of management do not take this into account, so they should be applied based on the individuality of the person and business requests. You will have to learn this on your own, there are no life hacks here, but you can always ask for advice from more experienced managers.

3. Control of goal achievement

New leaders must direct their team: give directions and control work, meet deadlines and improve team interaction. Most new managers fear that their subordinates will violate agreements if they do not 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 do not show initiative, the manager cannot effectively delegate authority.

What shall I do

The secret is that the more power managers are willing to share with subordinates, the more influence they have. When subordinates show initiative, the boss is able to quickly gain the trust of himself as a leader.

4. “Breakdown of flights”

Even experienced managers often feel uncomfortable giving subordinates negative feedback about the results of their work. It is especially difficult to hold subordinates accountable for their actions and negotiate with employees who lack the skills, knowledge, or experience.

What shall I do

There are a few simple rules that will help you reduce the discomfort of having to criticize your former colleague who has become a subordinate. Criticism should be confidential and specific. face-to-face, explain to the employee how his actions negatively affected the work of the entire team. It’s also important to focus on the next steps, rather than regretting missed opportunities – what we can do now to fix the situation.

Anastasia Gadeudina, Craftum project manager, management experience – 5 years

First, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and you will too, that’s okay. The main thing is to draw conclusions and work on mistakes: not only on your own, but also on other people’s. It will be needed.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask senior colleagues or your supervisor for advice and help. It is normal not to know something.

Thirdly, although management theory is important, it will not exist in its pure form. Be prepared for the fact that there are no correct universal solutions. For some reason, management books rarely write about the fact that half of a manager’s routine and success is working with people and their emotions. All people are different, everyone needs a different approach. There is no single recipe here either. The main thing is to be honest, understanding and fair.

Also be ready to gain authority. Teams always dislike new managers. Respect, support and trust must be earned. Your team will sense when you are doubtful and unsure, and if this is always the case, you will not achieve authority among subordinates. Be confident and ambitious. And if you don’t like the role of a manager, don’t be afraid to take a step back – for a while or forever – this job is not for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with that.

5. Coaching, development, mentoring and motivation

An important part of the manager’s work is the development of knowledge, skills and abilities of his subordinates, mentoring and coaching of team members on their career growth.

What shall I do

Try to ensure that the individual development plan does not become an empty formality in your team. Often, novice managers are afraid to ask for advice from more experienced managers, but no one will say that you are not coping with your responsibilities if you clarify how the system of mentoring and motivation is arranged – for a person appointed to lead a team for the first time, this is a new task.

When choosing training for your employees, give preference to short practical courses. So you can immediately assess the results and level of motivation of each member of your team.

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