The paradoxes faced by the first time manager

Becoming a manager for the first time can be a tough.  It’s tough because management is complex and for the first time manager there appears to be a number of paradoxes that can be difficult to resolve.

 

Ultimately the boss/subordinate relationship exists to ‘get stuff done’, whether that’s developing new products, providing great customer service or winning new business. However, just ‘getting stuff done’ is not the only management responsibility in today’s highly competitive and fast moving environment. It is also a manager’s responsibility to continually challenge and improve the performance of their team.  This is perhaps the first paradox of becoming a manager, to be effective a manager must manage both the ‘day to day’ tasks as well as drive the team forward improving performance.

 

The second paradox for many is that while the manager is accountable for their team and its performance, they are not responsible for doing all the work themselves. This means that they have to ‘let go’ and delegate many of the tasks and responsibilities they used to do previously as a team member. This can be particularly difficult for first time managers who think they are the ‘best person for the job’ or if they were promoted because of their ability in their previous role.

 

The final paradox for many first time managers, is that they need to develop their team but also have to evaluate their team’s performance. For first time managers this can be confusing and difficult as they may be friends with some team members and now have to monitor and evaluate their performance. But, can they be a close personal friend with a subordinate? Ultimately the answer is no. A manager needs to have a human, supportive and friendly relationship with their team, but that does not mean being friends with them.  As mentioned earlier that relationship exists to ‘get stuff done’ which means that the manager has to monitor, measure and evaluate performance in a professional and objective way. Being a close personal friend with a subordinate will simply get in the way of having an honest and candid conversation with them and ultimately compromise their position.

 

Becoming a first time manager is a difficult job, it is difficult because there are many paradoxes to the role, some of which are not experienced by people prior to their first appointment. To enable first time managers to be successful, it is vital that the organisation provides the necessary support and guidance to transition from being a great team member to an effective line manager, so that they can fully understand and appreciate their responsibilities, the complexities and paradoxes inherent to the role and the challenges they face.  If you are looking for training and development for newly appointed line managers, or those that have been promoted into the role due to their technical ability, but have not had any formal management training then our Role of the Line Manager Course is designed to develop delegates' skills to manage other people.