Last updated March 11, 2024

Challenges and issues faced by new managers

Transitioning from an employee to a first-time manager is an exciting yet challenging journey filled with numerous hurdles to overcome.

In this post below, we will explore the common issues and challenges faced during this pivotal transition, offering you insight and some ideas for strategies to navigate your new role successfully.

Below are 35 issues with suggestions on how you could deal with them, organized into four categories: communication and working together; productivity and engagement; staff development and performance; and employees’ well-being.

Page Contents

Communication and Working Together

1. How can I build trust with my team, as a new manager?

Building trust with your team is essential, especially as a new manager, because with trust your team is more likely to work more effectively for and with you.

It is important from the start to lead by example and this includes:

  • Being transparent
  • Showing integrity
  • Always working to include everyone and equally
  • Being honest and keeping to your promises
  • Demonstrating competence in your role

Also, make good use of active listening skills so that you develop empathy and understanding of your team.

By listening carefully early on to the needs of your team, you will very quickly get a clear understanding of how to better manage your team.

Hone in on any issues or anything that you can improve, any issues they have, or anything that is stopping them from doing their job efficiently.

Active listening skills improve empathy and give employees a sense of having been heard and valued.

Try also to always be approachable by having an open-door policy whereby your team feels able to quite easily talk with you if they need to.

Also, ensure you do regular 1-to-1s with each team member to get an insight into how each employee is doing and how you can help them.

You can read the 7 tips on building trust in the workplace also here.

Building trust in the workplace

2. What can I do to improve team communication?

You can improve team communication in many ways including by:

  • Fostering open dialogue
  • Actively listening (as mentioned above) to your team members
  • Providing regular updates
  • Encouraging feedback to ensure every employee has a voice

3. Is there a good way to get team members to collaborate and work well as a team?

There are several ways to guide team members to work together and to thrive as a team.

You can encourage shared goals and responsibilities, and promote collaboration between team members.

An example of fostering cross-functional collaboration within the same team is to implement a buddy system or job shadowing program.

For instance, you could pair up team members with complementary skills or expertise to work together on specific tasks or projects.

This facilitates mutual learning, the exchange of best practices, and a more comprehensive grasp of various facets of the team’s tasks.

By promoting collaboration in this manner, team members can harness each other’s strengths, refine their abilities, and ultimately make more impactful contributions toward achieving the team’s objectives.

4. How can I go about establishing a strong team culture?

Start by defining core values and shared goals for the team.

In addition, develop a system of open communication by having open meetings where everyone can give ideas and input. Also, be approachable and always available to your team.

In addition, encourage collaboration between colleagues including the idea of mentoring.

Different generations age-wise can have different skills and getting different age groups such as a recent graduate employee to teach social media skills to a much older employee can help team culture.

Through mentoring, younger or less experienced employees can often feel more respected and valued (such as for their IT skills) when given the chance to share their skills.

Likewise, older employees learn and develop new skills as a result and gain respect for less experienced employees.

The same can be true in reverse, such as when a much more experienced employee teaches skills such as strategic planning or how to develop SMART goals, to a young employee.

Skills sharing helps trust in the workplace to develop and can be a cost-effective way to build team morale and skills jointly.

5. What is the best way, if any, for conducting effective team meetings?

You should set clear objectives and a clear agenda for the meeting.

Also, only invite relevant participants to the meeting, especially considering the amount of wasted time employees can spend at meetings.

Try also to start and end the meeting on time, to encourage good time-keeping.

At the end of the meeting, summarize key points and action items, and follow up as needed to show accountability.

6. How can I effectively manage conflicts between team members?

Act promptly to address conflicts, and take time to listen to all parties involved without pre-judging either party involved.

Remember that it is your job to facilitate the solution and it is NOT your job to take sides in the conflict.

Focus only on the solution and mediating.

You can read more on conflict management training here or find conflict management activities here.

7. What strategies can I use to manage conflicts between team members from different backgrounds or perspectives?

Try to promote understanding and empathy, and to facilitate open communication. Empathy is key and this is an element of emotional intelligence, a very important set of skills that can be developed and nurtured.

You need to find common ground and to try and build and seek mutually beneficial solutions.

You can do so by encouraging each party to try and see the issues from the other person’s perspective.

So, when two members of staff are debating an issue and cannot agree, it can be useful to encourage a discussion whereby the positive points of each side of the argument are listed.

This way, you can encourage both parties to acknowledge that there is value in looking at an issue from different perspectives.

8. Within my team, what is the best way to manage EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion)?

There are several things you can do to address diversity and inclusion in your team including to:

  • Take Inclusive leadership training as a manager, or at least ensure that you understand techniques for fostering inclusion.
  • Encourage a culture of respect and acceptance, and provide diversity training to your team so that they all understand the basics of Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion.
  • Ensure that everyone in your team feels included and that they feel comfortable to voice their ideas and thoughts.
  • Address any issues of bias and discrimination promptly and effectively.

I have written another post about how to make a workplace more inclusive that you can also read.

Diversity and inclusion basics training materials
>> Diversity and inclusion basics training materials

9. As a new manager, how do I manage office politics?

Understanding the dynamics of office politics and forming strategic alliances can be challenging, as a new manager, especially in a large organization.

The key to overcoming office politics is to learn how to understand the different types of office employees and techniques for dealing with each of these groups.

You can learn more about this directly below:

10. What steps should I take to build trust and rapport with stakeholders outside of the team?

Build trust by demonstrating competence, reliability, and integrity, communicating openly and transparently, and delivering on commitments.

Also, elicit feedback (and take it on board) to show that you appreciate their input, and always try to negotiate win-win solutions, so that the other party knows that you also have their interest at heart.

Productivity and Engagement

11. What is a good way to set team goals?

A very effective way to set team goals and to do so in a structured way is to use what are known as SMART goals.

Smart goals refer to Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals, that involve team members in the goal-setting process, track progress regularly, and celebrate milestones along the way.

More on SMART goals here.

12. How do I manage competing priorities and requests from upper management?

Firstly, prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency: When faced with multiple tasks or requests, it is crucial to assess each one’s importance and urgency.

Importance refers to how significant a task is in achieving organizational goals, while urgency relates to the timeframe within which it needs to be completed.

Communicate openly about workload and capacity: Transparent communication is key to managing competing priorities effectively.

Regularly discuss workload and capacity with your team members to understand their current commitments and any challenges they may be facing and make informed decisions accordingly.

Seek clarification and guidance as needed: If you receive conflicting priorities or unclear directives from upper management, do not hesitate to seek clarification.

Advocate for your team’s needs and priorities: As a manager, it is essential to advocate for your team’s needs and priorities when managing competing demands.

If certain tasks or requests risk overburdening your team or detracting from their primary objectives, communicate these concerns to upper management.

Offer alternative solutions or negotiate timelines to find a balance that supports both organizational objectives and team well-being.

13. What are some effective techniques for motivating and inspiring my team?

Recognizing and celebrating the achievements of your team can go a long way toward motivating them, and oftentimes all it requires is a simple thank you for acknowledgement such as in a team meeting (see more on gratitude in the workplace).

Make sure also to provide opportunities for development for everyone as this provides extra incentive to many employees.

Through regular 1-to-1 meetings, you will learn about your employees’ own career goals, and by helping them to further advance their careers, you will find that they are more motivated in their work.

Ask yourself, for example, are there any tasks that they could benefit from being included in, or is there any training that would help them, whilst also aligning with the company’s goals?

14. How can I tackle and deal with low team morale?

Begin by trying to understand the main cause of low morale by getting feedback from your team such as by having 1-to-1 meetings with each employee and rooting out any underlying issues.

The cause of low morale is often because of:

  • Bad communication within the team (so, for example, false rumors spread such as about job losses).
  • Minor conflicts (which could so easily have been solved early on) that build into a bigger conflict.
  • Lack of attention on your part as a manager, such as where workloads are unrealistic and causing stress to your team, but you have not taken the time to really listen to your team, or been approachable enough.

A range of strategies can also help over time, including to provide:

15. How can I ensure that team members feel valued and a genuine part of the team?

To ensure team members feel valued and recognized for their contributions, it is crucial to not only acknowledge achievements publicly but also provide avenues for their professional growth and advancement.

Regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation through personalized gestures or team-wide recognition events further reinforces a culture of appreciation, fostering a strong sense of belonging and motivation within the team.

16. How do I make sure that remote employees feel included and engaged with the rest of the team?

Managing a team that is combined of remote team members and office-based members is increasingly common now, so you might well already face this situation.

The key, with remote employees, is to ensure that you communicate regularly and clearly with them.

Make sure, just like with office-based employees, that you do regular (i.e., monthly) 1-to-1 meetings with them and also ensure that you include them in team meetings.

It is really easy nowadays to run meetings whereby you can connect with remote employees on a large screen and the office-based employees in the meeting room, so that all of the team can see each other, no matter where they work from.

Do not forget also to involve remote team members in decision-making, training, and mentoring opportunities.

Furthermore, make sure to offer support and resources for remote work challenges.

You might also want to read this post on 10 ways to manage remote staff.

17. How do I handle micromanagement tendencies and empower my team to take ownership of their work?

Micromanagement can hinder team productivity and morale, but new managers may struggle to find the balance between providing guidance and allowing autonomy.

Developing trust in team members’ abilities and delegating effectively is key to guiding them to want to have more control of their work.

18. How do I maintain productivity and engagement during times of change, uncertainty, or difficulties for the company?

Communicate openly and transparently with the team that you manage by providing regular updates and reassurance and be honest about what you know.

Also, involve team members in decision-making, and focus on maintaining a sense of purpose and direction.

Focus on maintaining stability and morale, and lead by example with your own adaptability and resilience.

19. How can I make my team more innovative and creative?

I recommend starting by encouraging experimentation, recognizing and celebrating new ideas, and providing resources for professional development.

The key here though, when creating a creative workplace, is to allow for mistakes to happen without the team being in fear of getting in trouble.

To find great solutions, for example, they might need first to make 6 or 7 prototypes or stages to get to the final product.

To summarize, you can promote innovation in your team by:

Staff Development and Performance

20. Is there any special way of identifying and developing potential leaders within my team?

To work out which employees are potential leaders of the future, I recommend two key things: Observation and Development.

Observation: I recommend paying attention to team members who:

These are often signs of leadership potential.

Development: Once you identify potential leaders, provide opportunities for growth.

This includes giving them challenging projects to stretch their skills, offering mentorship and coaching, and encouraging their participation in leadership development programs.

21. What are some strategies for providing constructive feedback?

When offering feedback, you need to be objective and non-judgmental and provide actionable suggestions for improvement.

Do not forget that the goal is to get positive results so use feedback to guide and motivate your team, not to drag them down or simply to criticise them.

Remember also that each employee will respond to feedback differently. Some employees love to receive direct and to-the-point feedback so that they can immediately work to improve and move forward.

Other employees will be more sensitive and offering more basic and considered feedback is needed.

The key point is to keep all feedback focused on the goal at hand and to focus on the positives and the way forward.

Learn more about effective vs ineffective feedback.

22. How can I guide my team to take more accountability?

You can start as a leader and manager first by being a manager who takes accountability and by making your own responsibilities clear to your team.

Make it clear how you will support them and manage them and what they can expect of you.

Next, recognize and reward employees when they take accountability for tasks and also ownership of any problems that occur.

Also, delegate responsibilities, set clear expectations, and provide autonomy and support.

23. What steps should I take to ensure that new employees are properly inducted (onboarded)?

Onboarding is an extremely important time given that such a high percentage of employees leave within the first 90 days of starting a new job.

In addition to providing a warm welcome, clarify the role and responsibilities from the start.

As the manager, you will also want to ensure that IT equipment, training, and resources are also in place and ready for the employee’s arrival.

One thing you can quite easily do immediately is to introduce them to team members and talk them through the company culture.

Check in regularly with the new employee/s in the first few weeks to address any questions or concerns and make it clear that they can approach you anytime with any issues.

24. What steps should I take to ensure that team members have everything they need to succeed?

It can also take time, as a new manager, to understand and work out how to best make use of limited resources, especially when it comes to training that could help your team.

If resources are limited, then consider mentorship within the team (as already discussed), such as where one skilled employee can train another (this in itself builds team unity through mutual respect).

If there is a training budget, consider carefully what each employee needs to learn and know to best do their job.

Take the time, for example, to do a 1-to-1 with each team member and find out what skills they have and which ones they lack. In other words, try and work out the skills gap and what is really needed.

Try also to remove obstacles such as in terms of software and hardware in a methodical way.

If time is short, you might want to allocate this evaluation task to one of your team.

25. How do I manage performance issues while maintaining team morale?

Address performance issues promptly and privately and make sure that your feedback is clear and based on specific things that you need to address.

You will need to ensure that you offer constructive feedback so that you can maintain a positive management style.

Also, make sure that you offer support for improvement.

Always also maintain a positive and supportive team environment.

26. How do I handle difficult conversations, such as giving negative feedback or addressing disciplinary issues?

One of the keys to managing such difficult situations is to prepare in advance.

Firstly, choose a quiet place for the meeting, i.e. somewhere where you will not be interrupted and where you can provide confidentially.

Secondly, ensure that you understand clearly any disciplinary processes (ask your HR team for support as needed).

During the meeting itself, focus on the behavior or performance, whilst remaining calm and objective.

Do also offer support and resources for improvement.

Dealing with difficult people training c

27. How do I manage an employee who is not meeting expectations workwise?

To handle situations where team members are not meeting expectations despite clear communication, it is essential to address performance issues promptly.

This involves providing constructive feedback, offering support and resources for improvement, setting clear expectations, and documenting concerns.

By employing these strategies, you can effectively guide team members toward success while fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

28. How do I handle situations where team members are not receptive to feedback or coaching?

This can be a very challenging situation, as a new manager, and it does take experience and time to become good at learning how to coach employees.

In short, though, try to address the resistance by:

  • building trust
  • providing constructive feedback
  • asking questions, so they can work out the solution themselves, rather than telling them what to do
  • asking them to provide a solution, so they feel empowered
  • focusing on behaviors and outcomes
  • and offering support and resources for improvement.
>> Coaching Skills Teaching Materials

Employees’ Well-Being

29. How can I build a team that is resilient and good at dealing with challenges?

With strong resilience, we are better at managing setbacks, finding solutions to problems, and being able to come back stronger and more knowledgeable.

So, to help your team be a resilient one, start by leading by example by being confident and strong in adversity.

Leading by example is a powerful way to show others how to be resilient and effective.

As a leader, also do not be afraid to acknowledge challenges openly, i.e. to normalize the idea that work challenges are simply there to be overcome.

Also ensure that you provide support and resources for your team to be able to cope with stress, and encourage a growth mindset.

Resilience training materials
>> Resilience training materials

30. How can I effectively prioritize achieving results while also ensuring the well-being of my team members?

Balancing achieving results with a good work-life balance for both yourself and your team is not easy.

What you should do though is set realistic expectations, and recognize and reward both individual and team achievements.

Another thing you can do is to use your 1-to-1 meetings with your team members to check that their goals are always aligned with the company’s goals. Also, check that their workload is manageable but still challenging enough to make their job interesting.

This balance between well-being and productivity can be especially hard to find as a new manager but it will come with experience, trust me.

31. What strategies can I use to promote work-life balance in my team?

Getting the balance right between how hard you push your team or not is a great skill and hopefully a skill you will perfect over time. In the meantime, here are some pointers:

  • Set Realistic Expectations: Establish achievable goals to reduce stress.
  • Provide Flexibility: Can you let them work from home part of the time or might you be able to provide more flexible hours?
  • Encourage Time Off: Advocate for regular breaks and utilize vacation time.
  • Promote Inclusivity: Respect diverse needs and responsibilities.
  • Offer Wellness Programs: Implement initiatives supporting physical and mental health.

32. What strategies can I use to handle situations where team members are experiencing conflict outside of work?

This is yet another difficult situation for many managers as it clearly needs very careful handling.

Handle these out-of-work conflicts by providing support and resources, and very importantly, by maintaining confidentiality.

Also, offer flexibility and understanding, and promote open communication with the employee/s in question. In other words, make your time and access easily available to the employee to ensure you are able to provide the level of support needed.

If necessary though, also consider involving the Human Resources Department, if special support and/or counselling is needed.

33. What about my own stress and dealing with being a new manager and avoiding burnout?

You will probably find that you put every ounce of your energy (and 10% more) into trying to be a good new manager.

It is tough and it is challenging, and it is easy to overwork and get burnt out.

Developing self-care strategies and seeking support from mentors or peers are essential for maintaining resilience and effectiveness as a leader.

It is essential that you take care of yourself, as much as it is essential to take care of and manage your employees.

A burnt-out manager is unlikely to be a motivational one!

34. How can I ensure a work environment that is free from bullying and harassment, so that everyone feels safe?

Providing a work environment that is free from bullying and harassment is essential to protect your team’s well-being.

Here are a few strategies that can help you do this:

  • Establish policies: Have a clear policy about what constitutes bullying and harassment and what the consequences are of these types of behavior. This policy should cover different types of bullying and harassment, including verbal, non-verbal, physical, and online.
  • Act promptly: Take immediate action against the perpetrators of bullying and harassment and take every complaint seriously.
  • Training: Provide your team members with training on bullying and harassment.
  • Communication and feedback: Empower your team members to speak up if they experience or witness any bullying or harassment and provide them with channels to report this without fear of retaliation. For example, they could do this through a designated HR person, an anonymous hotline, or a suggestion box.
  • Support: Put in place ways to support those on the receiving end of bullying or harassment. You could liaise with HR, to see if they can provide employees with counselling or other resources.

35. What feedback mechanisms can I use to monitor and improve my team members’ well-being?

There are many ways you could do this, including using:

  • One-to-one meetings to discuss any issues, concerns or thoughts the employees may have
  • Anonymous surveys and questionnaires, which can cover topics such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, stress levels, and overall happiness at work
  • Open forums, such as meetings where everyone can share their ideas, to support a sense of community and collective problem-solving
  • Exit interviews, to understand the experiences that employees who are leaving had while working with you and your team

Examples and Case Studies of Solving Workplace Problems as a New Manager

New manager issues and solution examples

Example 1: SymondsTech Solutions

Scenario

Sarah, a high-performing software engineer at SymondsTech, was promoted to a first-time manager position.

She struggled with transitioning from being a peer to leading her former team members.

Solution

SymondsTech provided Sarah with leadership training and mentorship to develop her managerial skills.

Sarah also held open discussions with her team, acknowledging the change and emphasizing her commitment to their success.

Outcome

Through support and open communication, Sarah gained her team’s trust and respect.

They collaborated effectively, leveraging her technical expertise and newfound leadership skills to achieve project milestones.

Example 2: BrightFuture Consulting

Scenario

Mark, a seasoned consultant at BrightFuture Consulting, was promoted to a managerial role overseeing a diverse team.

He faced challenges in balancing his newfound managerial responsibilities with client demands.

Solution

BrightFuture Consulting implemented a structured onboarding process for new managers, including time management workshops and delegating strategies.

Mark also collaborated with senior managers to prioritize tasks effectively.

Outcome

With improved time management skills and support from his peers, Mark successfully balanced his managerial duties and client engagements.

His team benefited from his leadership, delivering high-quality solutions to clients.

Example 3: Assesos Ltd

Scenario

Emily, a top sales representative at Assesos Ltd, was promoted to a sales manager position.

She struggled with giving constructive feedback to underperforming team members while maintaining morale.

Solution

Assesos Ltd provided Emily with training on delivering feedback effectively and fostering a positive team culture.

Emily implemented regular one-on-one meetings with team members to provide support and guidance.

Outcome

By nurturing a culture of open communication and continuous improvement, Emily’s team members felt empowered to address performance issues constructively.

Morale improved, and sales metrics showed steady growth under her leadership.

Example 4: HealthWell Hospital

Scenario

Alex, a skilled nurse at HealthWell Hospital, was promoted to a nursing supervisor role.

He faced challenges in managing conflicts among his team members and maintaining staff morale during demanding shifts.

Solution

HealthWell Hospital provided Alex with conflict resolution training and leadership development workshops.

Alex also implemented team-building activities and recognized staff achievements to boost morale.

Outcome

With enhanced conflict resolution skills and a focus on fostering a positive work environment, Alex successfully managed conflicts and maintained staff morale.

Staff retention improved, contributing to better patient care outcomes at HealthWell Hospital.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the transition from employee to first-time manager is undoubtedly a significant milestone in your career journey.

While it comes with its fair share of challenges, it is also an opportunity to develop and grow into your new job role.

By recognizing and addressing these challenges head-on, and leveraging the insights shared in this blog, you can, as a new manager, confidently navigate the path to leadership!

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
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