Top 3 Challenges For First-Time Managers - IEDP
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Top 3 Challenges For First-Time Managers

Organizations need to invest in leadership development for first-time managers


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The importance of ‘getting off to good start’ has led to a new emphasis on early years’ education in childhood development. A similar new emphasis is now needed in leadership development according to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in a recent White Paper.

Organizational investment in executive education has until now typically been focused on senior leaders and those managers identified as high-potentials. In fact many companies spend twice as much on training for mid-level managers than they do first-timers — and up to five times as much on their senior managers.

Yet first-time managers, who face responsibilities and challenges they have never before encountered, can benefit enormously from sophisticated development support. It is important they are not forced to develop the skills and knowledge required to overcome these challenges and meet their responsibilities on their own, or with minimal guidance. Furthermore at a time when managing millennials, talent pipelines and employee engagement are high on the corporate agenda maximising the potential of first-time managers and not squandering their talent is critical to organizational success.

The CCL survey of first-time managers attending its Maximizing Your Leadership Potential (MLP) program reveals a variety of leadership challenges first-time managers face, the most difficult being leading teams effectively, learning to be a better leader, and (mentioned by nearly 60% of respondents) being able to assert your authority over former peers while maintaining positive relationships.

Challenges Mentioned By First Time Managers

% Frequency

Adjustment to People Management/Displaying Authority


Developing Managerial and Personal Effectiveness


Leading Team Achievement


Managing Internal Stakeholders and Politics


Motivation of Others


Performance Management and Accountability Issues


Coaching, Developing, and Mentoring Others




Delegation and Micromanagement


Conflict Management


Working With a Range of Employees


Doing More With Less


The researchers believe that organizations, focused on executive development, need to invest in leadership development for first-time managers, especially in the three areas at the top of the list.

  1. Leading teams - First time managers should be encouraged to adopt the DAC framework: Direction (so everyone is clear on the vision and goals); Alignment (so everyone knows their responsibilities and how these align with others); and Commitment (so everyone is dedicated and passionate).They should also learn to say ‘together’ a lot to emphasize team effort, and be quick to respond to conflicts before they spread.
  2. Managerial effectiveness - First time managers should taught to better manage their time and their stress, by adopting some key habits: setting specific and measurable goals; maintaining an overall list of responsibilities and projects; holding regular check-in meetings with direct reports, where expectations from the meetings are clear to all; and using only one consolidated to-do list.
  3. Dealing with former co-workers - First-time managers must be taught to: be clear with co-workers-turned-subordinates that the working relationship has changed and that there are new boundaries; be fair and not let personal biases from the past lead to preferential treatment; be aware that everyone will notice if some people are given more time and support than others; meet regularly with direct reports to understand their motivations and concerns.


A top-ranked, global provider of leadership development. By leveraging the power of leadership to drive results that matter most to clients, CCL transforms individual leaders, teams, organizations and society.

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