When young employees achieve their first position that carries management responsibilities, they are, rightly, charged with pride, illusions and motivation. At last, they have entered the ‘promised land’ of management!
Sadly, in many cases, disenchantment quickly sets in because the road ahead is hard. There are many ‘potholes’ and the young manager is alone to face them.
From some 25 years of working in varied business environments, my experience has enabled me to observe, to rub shoulders with and to help young managers with this transition. As a result, I have been able to recognise 7 main difficulties that every young manager faces.
1. A new positioning
From a relatively simple positioning as a ‘team member’, our young manager moves to one which is particular and unique, characterised by the ambiguity of simultaneously belonging to two groups: those who do (the workers) and those who make others do (the management). The young manager now has a foot in two camps, which, to add complexity, rarely live in total harmony.
Often they will find themselves between ‘a rock and a hard place’. A lot is asked of them, yet they have very little say in what happens and they work with a lot of constraints.
2. Pressures of the system
The expectations towards young managers are often very demanding or even unrealistic because no consideration is taken of the difficulties they face at the start of their new career. Moreover, they are often asked, in addition to their new responsibilities, to continue to perform their old tasks, as it is difficult for the company to do without their expertise.
3. The learning curve
To become a manager, even when one is so predisposed, requires a long and difficult apprenticeship in order to acquire and integrate the multiple managerial and human skills needed in the role.
In this learning phase, there will inevitably be moments when our young manager will be shaken and destabilized as a person. Taking up the challenge to become a good manager demands serious self-questioning. It takes great courage, and it is not achieved in one day!
4. The fears and doubts
Given the challenges before them and the difficulties encountered, it is normal for a young manager to be faced with fears and doubts.
Fear of not succeeding, of not being appreciated by their team, their superiors, their former colleagues, fear of losing their expertise (technical or business)…
Doubts about themselves, about their skills, about what to do or what not to do, about what to say or what not to say, about the decisions to make, about the attitudes to adopt, about the meaning of their new role…
5. The grieving
Making the choice to become a manager means renouncing the old position and some of the benefits that came with it.
There is grieving to make of the relationship with the former colleagues, which will never be the same again, especially for those who become managers of their old team. Another common grief is the loss of a job in which the manager was until then a specialist. Finally, let’s not underestimate the mourning of a life that was often more ‘peaceful’, with no managerial responsibilities.
6. The lack of role models
Generally, the examples our young managers have do not really help them to thrive in their new roles but rather to ‘toe the company line’ and become clones of their seniors, repeating the same old mistakes.
I am really touched by the confusion I find in the young managers I coach. They do as their seniors do because this is what is expected of them but they feel that they lose some of their humanity and the alignment with their core values. To get into line, they put on a mask but they do not really flourish, nor do they reach their potential.
7. Lack of support
Most young managers are literally parachuted into their jobs without adequate preparation, without training and without serious support. They have little time to adjust to their new role and are expected to be operational immediately! What heresy! How can we expect this to work?
My goal in this article is to show that being promoted to first level management is not the easiest! I hope I have achieved that, even though I am aware that many questions remain unanswered about the causes, consequences and possible solutions to this situation.
Join me in other articles where I will pursue this reflection.Categories: Management @en