It comes as no surprise that working under first-time managers can pose difficulties. One reason is that these new managers are frequently thrust into their positions with minimal or no training. Additionally, only a scant number of companies provide a structured leadership coaching program for their employees.
In light of this situation, research conducted by Oji Life Lab and Harris Poll has unveiled that approximately 20% of U.S. workers encountered sleep-related challenges when supervised by a first-time manager.
Among women, this percentage surged to nearly 50%. What's particularly troubling is that new managers might impede a company's endeavours to narrow the gender gap. According to the survey, 40% of the women respondents stated that first-time managers heightened their inclination to consider leaving their jobs, whereas only 29% of men expressed a similar sentiment.
According to the most recent Women in the Workplace study, which is supported by LeanIn.Org and conducted by McKinsey & Company, there is a notable increase in the departure of women leaders from corporate America. This trend is not solely attributed to economic and personal pressures but involves more complex factors.
The AceUp study also identified specific areas where first-time managers can enhance their skills. The encouraging aspect is that these skills are all attainable through learning and practice over time.
1. Effective communication
It's quite common for first-time managers to be hesitant when it comes to addressing conflicts. Frequently, they may find themselves in the position of managing colleagues who were formerly peers, creating potentially awkward situations. Setting clear and healthy boundaries can be challenging, especially if you have close friendships with your direct reports or have a history of socialising outside the office.
In such situations, it's advisable to arrange an official meeting with your supervisor early in your managerial role to discuss your professional relationship and identify areas where you may require guidance or support. This proactive approach allows both parties to agree on how to maintain a balanced manager-direct report dynamic.
2. Helping managers under pressure
First-time managers may lack the experience of making frequent high-pressure decisions. They tend to lean toward caution and may postpone decision-making due to the fear of making errors. In some cases, your supervisor might become immobilised by overthinking. In such situations, offering assistance in sifting through information can be beneficial. By serving as a sounding board, you reinforce your position as a valuable member of the team.
3. Feedback strategies for emerging managers
For individuals who are stepping into their first managerial roles, offering feedback can pose an even greater challenge. In such cases, they often adopt a passive approach, hoping that problematic behaviours or situations will naturally improve over time. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to a deterioration of the issues. If you find that a new manager is struggling to provide feedback, it's advisable to take a proactive stance.
Regularly engage with your superior and initiate discussions centred on your performance through open-ended questions. If you still don't receive the necessary feedback, consider seeking input from colleagues or other respected figures within the organisation. Transitioning into the role of a first-time manager can be both exhilarating and daunting simultaneously. Instead of immersing them directly into the complexities of their new role, companies should assist new managers by offering formal training, coaching, and mentorship programs.