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Handling New Manager Challenges, Part 2: Getting Yourself Right

A man in a suit comparing content on a clipboard to a laptop screen.

Every new job poses new opportunities disguised as challenges. No one knows everything right off the bat. For first-time managers, that’s probably training on different management software and new stand operating procedures. Inevitably, there comes a time when you figure out your management style.

Many new managers don’t consider the shift in your mindset either—in addition to learning how to supervise others, you need to know how to shift your work style and take care of your duties effectively.

We’ve already discussed overcoming the challenges of learning how to supervise effectively. Five (more) challenges new managers might face are:

  • Crossing the line from confident to arrogant

  • Not talking to other managers

  • Ignoring emotional intelligence

  • Sticking to an “individual” mindset

  • Fearing feedback

Here are tips for new managers to care for themselves and their teams.

For more tips on success in management, visit the Regional Economic Center at Yavapai College course page. We offer hundreds of online courses for credentials and certifications that you can take with you as you move up the leadership ladder.

1. Crossing the Line from Confident to Arrogant

When in a leadership role, you need to feel confident in your abilities and duties and that of the team. When you make decisions, you need to stand by them. Some people let that authority get to their heads and act rashly or condescendingly.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Most people work better under someone who is confident and elicits confidence, not someone who acts better than their employees. Remember, you got the management position for certain specific skill sets, not because you’re smarter than anyone else.

Take some time to be mindful. How would you like to be approached about a situation by management? Would you respect someone who talked to you like that?

The golden rule still applies when you’re someone’s superior. Be proud of your accomplishments and decisions, but arrogance isn’t a virtue.

Illustration of a group of coworkers walking in the same direction.

2. Not Talking to Other Managers

Every manager remembers their first management job. They were probably initially unsure of where to start. But now, odds are, they’re thriving in their roles. Cooperation with your direct reports can help you solve problems, but so can collaborating with other managers and department heads.

Here’s What To Do Instead

To gain confidence, it doesn’t hurt to talk to those who have been where you are and are successful in their role. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel when you have access to the ideas and advice of other managers. Save yourself time and frustration, and speak to other managers. Talk to your supervisor, even. They might know tricks about duties you didn’t know, wise words, and clever problem-solving.

3. Ignoring Emotional Intelligence

Any job requires hard skills—the everyday duties and responsibilities you’re trained for, like using the different software programs and hardware specific to your position.

Once again, though, you don’t exist on an island. Working with others in a management position especially requires soft skills. The soft skill that many ignore is emotional intelligence, which includes attributes like:

  • Empathy

  • Self-awareness

  • Social skills

A common mistake for new managers is to focus too much on their work rather than on their people.

A group photo of smiling coworkers in front of a blackboard.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Even in the most professional environments, employees are more than their job. Social etiquette, understanding, and clear communication apply to everyone at all employment levels.

It comes down to reading the room. Learn how people work best, respond to varying levels of friendliness, and adapt accordingly. Empathy can apply to more than just sensitive situations and topics. Use it daily to make your employees feel as comfortable as possible to feel fulfilled at work.

4. Sticking to the “Individual” Mindset

Not every new manager faces this challenge—it greatly depends on the industry and the type of work you did before. In some places, a person’s work is highly individualized. What they produce has little or no bearing on what the rest of their team does and vice versa.

Here’s What to Do Instead

In these environments, becoming a supervisor can feel like a world away because you’re responsible for your success and everyone on your team.

It might be a part of your new duties, but ensure you take time to look up what you’re doing to check in on your employees. How are the parts working towards the whole? Find time and space in your schedule to ensure everyone is successful, not just yourself.

5. Fearing Feedback

It’s always hard to hear that you’re not doing well. It’s easy to get defensive or, depending on where the feedback is coming from, ignore it. No one likes criticism, but constructive criticism is the best way to learn and grow.

Fearing feedback holds you back. Just as you need to learn how to communicate feedback appropriately, you also need to learn how to receive it. How else are you going to improve unless you know how?

Two women discussing the contents of a tablet in an office setting.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Just because you aren’t perfect doesn’t mean you’ve failed by any stretch of the imagination. It just means that you are still learning. Here’s what to do to accept feedback:

  • Don’t take it personally

  • Don’t give excuses or explain it away

  • Be understanding of intentions

  • Ask specific questions

  • Thank them for expressing their concerns

Accepting feedback is the confluence of many lessons for a first-time manager. You’ve built trust enough for an employee to bring a concern to you. Use that emotional intelligence to accept it graciously. Now, it might be time to ask another manager how they would make the change.

To get ahead of the game in a management position, take one of the online courses from the Yavapai College REDC. Whether you’re a seasoned manager, a first-time manager, or have your eye on a leadership position, these online micro-credentials can elevate your management game.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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