The top 5 challenges of managing others, and how to overcome them

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Regardless of the industry we work in, we all face challenges when managing others. The business angle is often the easy part – it’s straightforward to manage schedules, forecast profits, monitor performance and report results. The difficulty lies in managing people, not business processes.

People management skills are some of the most important you’ll ever learn. We constantly improve these skills over the course of our lives, from the moment we first step foot in the playground. As we grow older, take on greater responsibility, and go on to manage teams, things get more complex.

Here we take a look at the five most common situations that test every good manager on their route to the top. We’ll also give you some tips for how to improve your people management skills so you can avoid these challenges on the road ahead.

1. Handing over the reins

One of the hardest challenges people face when they’re promoted into management roles is letting go. Accustomed to excelling in one role, they are often caught in the trap of continuing to try and do all the work that they previously did. Perfectionists often find it hard to let go of the reins – but learning to trust and delegate is a major part of what makes a great leader.

You need to learn to let go of the tasks you loved doing, and trust others to do a good job on your behalf. By showing trust, you’ll empower team members, building their self-confidence, skill levels, and helping them improve, while keeping your own workload to a realistic level.

2. Interpersonal conflict within your team

These issues can seem trivial at first, but interpersonal issues can gnaw away at performance, motivation, and leave employees feeling isolated. This is the typical ‘he said, she said’ scenario, reminiscent of playground spats. One team member complains of another team member’s behaviour towards them – too dismissive, negative, rude – while the other denies any wrongdoing.

Solving these situations can be tricky, as you run the risk of appearing to side with one employee or the other. The key here is communication and sticking to the facts. Try to avoid emotive language, talk to both parties, and ascertain the facts – the actions that have led to the upset. This helps employees focus on behaviours that can be changed – you may have little control over employee emotions, but behaviours are something you can help them to change.

3. Acknowledging your own development needs

While a promotion to a leadership role is certainly great for your ego, remember that everyone has room for improvement, no matter how far up the pay scale. No one ticks every box and if you’re asking your team members to constantly improve, why not you too?

Think about your goals – if there’s no growth opportunity within the new role you’ve been given, why would you want it? Consider your future aspirations and career plans, and talk to upper management and your own team members for feedback on your performance.

4. Recognising team weaknesses

Sometimes teams fail because of a simple lack of skills. While it’s never pleasant to have to point out a failing to a team member, improvements have to be made otherwise the whole team falls apart.

The key people management skill here is thoughtful communication. You need to be able to recognise weak areas where they can occur, identify how they can be improved – with team or individual training – but also to have the communicative skill to let a team member know about where they need to make improvements without shattering their confidence. Keep things specific, in terms of the problem, and try to balance things out by highlighting areas where you feel your team member is doing well.

5: Dealing with resentment

It’s unfortunate, but it happens – when you move up the career ladder, those left behind can harbour resentments. While we all hope that our peers will be happy for us and accept that the right person has been chosen for the job, the reality is that the business world is a competitive one and we have to deal with colleagues who go cold on us.

This is a chance to show maturity and practice real understanding. You might find some of your ideas blocked or given short shrift, or your work undermined, and it can be upsetting. Successful leaders are able to take the time to understand the views, worries and anxieties of those who are resentful, and not bite back. Let them know you understand and you’ll make progress.

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.

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