Common New Supervisor Challenges to Prepare For

Common New Supervisor Challenges to Prepare For
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Going From Colleague to Boss Creates Common New Supervisor Challenges
Not surprisingly, we know from our People Manager Assessment Center data that most new managers struggle to make the transition from the role of individual contributor to the role of people leader. Sadly, many are inadequately prepared. According to research by Forbes and McKinsey:

  • 58% of new people managers said they did not attend any management training programs  prior to taking on the new role.
  • 98% of new people managers feel they would benefit from new manager training.
  • Only 10% of leaders said their companies’ frontline manager training is effective in preparing managers to lead.

When people managers are unprepared, employee engagement, performance, and retention all decline.

Develop New Managers
New people managers need meaningful support to be set up for success. If you want to really improve manager competence and confidence, we recommend you take a highly customized action learning leadership development approach.


Because we measured over 800 training programs and found that only 1-in-5 participants changed their on-the-job behavior and performance after stand-alone training.   Stand-alone generic training programs tend to overwhelm participants with a lengthy list of managerial skills that all sound good (e.g., goal setting, meeting facilitation, coaching conversations, communication, decision making, conflict management, etc.) but do not create the level of relevance required for true behavior change.

Instead, identify the critical three to five scenarios and skills that will have the greatest impact on your new manager, their boss, and their team in a way that aligns with the organization’s strategic priorities and talent management plans. Then invest the time and resources to train, coach, and reinforce them.

Common New Supervisor Challenges to Prepare For
Assuming you provide the relevant training and follow-up that will set your new manager up to succeed, be aware of the common challenges they will face. It will make you better able to support them as they navigate the demands of management.

  1. Charting the Course
    Individuals and teams need to know where they are headed and why it matters.  Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams.  A new manager’s number one job is to set clear performance expectations.  

    High performing people managers ensure that each team member fully understands and accepts how:

    — The team contributes to the overall success of the organization
    — The overall team’s success will be measured
    Each individual contributes to the team’s overall mission
    — Individual success will be measured

    That includes skills in areas such as creating team clarity, making the value of your team visible, having the business acumen to understand how the company operates, navigating leading organizational change, and navigating workplace politics.

    Can your managers co-create a compelling future vision and plan with their teams?

  2. Creating the Right Performance Environment
    High performing people managers create connections.  They get to know their team and set them up for personal and professional success for both now and in the future.  They create the psychological team safety required for trust, constructive debate, and accountability.

    They assess the team’s culture and ensure that it is healthy enough, accountable enough, and aligned enough with key strategic initiatives to help, and not hinder, strategy execution.

    That includes skills in areas such as taking employee engagement actions, delivering feedback, leading remote teams, collaborating across functions, and holding people accountable.

    Can your managers create the right environment for their teams to thrive?

  3. Being a Player-Coach
    New managers are held accountable for team results. To deliver, they need to be able to manage their own time and stress in a way that they can stay organized and meet team deadlines – especially as companies continue to ask their managers to do more with less.  High performing managers operate as an effective individual producer and people leader simultaneously.

    These hybrid player-coaches at work must take a situational approach to leadership and get their own project work done while at the same time ensuring that their team performs at their peak.  Most new managers struggle to effectively balance “leading” and “delivering.”  Too much “delivering” does not develop, leverage, or scale team members; too much “leading” can result in missed personal deadlines.

    That includes skills in areas such as delegation, coaching, time management, decision making, project management, and communication.

    Are your managers capable of leading and delivering in a way that makes sense?

Bad Managers = Bad Business
Managers and line supervisors direct as much as two-thirds of the workforce responsible for defining, delivering, and improving the customer experience. From an employee perspective, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.

The Bottom Line
Companies with higher performing managers are 22% more productive, have 30% higher employee engagement scores, and report a 19% decrease in turnover.

To learn more about common New Supervisor Challenges to prepare for, download Sample Team Charter Template

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