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  • Nicola Blackmore

Supporting new managers in the transition from team member to manager

When a team member is promoted into their first management role it is usually a time of mixed emotions.  They are likely to be feeling very proud and excited about their achievement and the possibilities that lay ahead…but they could also be feeling very daunted and apprehensive.   


As a team member they were probably an expert, feeling very comfortable and settled.  They may have a reasonable length of service, a close friendship group and maybe know all the shortcuts for how to get the job done quickly and efficiently. But as a manager, it is a different story.  They now need to manage through others and take a different level of responsibility and accountability.  They might be feeling exposed, uncomfortable and alone and this can have a huge impact of them, the team and their overall output.  

We asked our Senior Partner, Nicola Blackmore, an expert in helping managers prepare for, transition and excel in their new management roles, for her thoughts on the topic and here’s what she had to say. 


What do new managers find most difficult about moving from a team member to a manager? 


I meet hundreds of new managers every year and they often talk to me about the difficulties of moving into the management role.  The three struggles I hear most often are: 

“I’m finding it hard to manage people that were my peers or friends that I socialise with.” 
“I’m feeling an increased pressure to perform and deliver, but I have to manage results through others to deliver rather than doing things myself.” 
“I miss the front-line job I used to do!  I used to know exactly what to do and felt like an expert…now I feel unskilled and uncomfortable.”


The general feeling of finding it hard to navigate the transition into their new role and away from the comfort of their old role is all too common.  New managers often find it hard to redefine personal relationships and set boundaries with people they have worked with for a long time and may find it tricky to be seen in their new role (or to see themselves in their new role too!) 


Moving from having sole responsibility and focus on themselves to having to look outwards and to be responsible for other people’s success, development and wellbeing can be a tricky mindset (and skillset) shift. 


It is also important to recognise that the move from team member to manager ultimately changes what they do day to day…and often takes people away from what they like and are good at.  Leaving them to feel uncomfortable and exposed and can impact their motivation. 


What tends to happen when a new manager finds it hard? 


One of the things you might see is a mood change or increase in stress levels.  This could make them irritable or unapproachable and create a poor atmosphere in the team.   


Another common thing to see is micromanaging.  This can happen for lots of reasons.  Maybe they are finding it hard to trust others to do the job that they are so experienced in themselves.  Maybe it is an attempt to regain some sense of comfort and control that they lack on their management role.  Maybe they find it hard to delegate and don’t want to put pressure on people in their team.  Whatever the reason, micromanaging has a damaging effect on the people they manage. 


Finally, new managers might be feeling overwhelmed and lonely (and this one might be harder to spot!).  Often managers tell me that they can’t admit that they are feeling overwhelmed because it would look like they shouldn’t have been promoted in the first place.  They suffer in silence and work hard to keep their heads above water…but it is exhausting and lonely.  This, of course, contributes to the low mood and increased stress levels too. 


What can organisations do to support these new managers? 


With the right support, new managers can flourish during this transition period.  Here are three things to try… 


  1. Training – Remember that additional knowledge doesn’t arrive automatically with the new contract.  New managers will need to learn the skillset, mindset and toolset required for their new role to help them be at their best.  Spend time with the new manager to create a detailed development plan highlighting any gaps and how they can grow in both confidence and competence in each area. 


  1. Support – knowing that these new managers might be feeling overwhelmed, lonely, exposed, uncomfortable and demotivated, it is important to offer them regular, structured support to guide them through this period.  Regular 1:1 meetings, access to information, high quality feedback about their progress, successes and challenges and a clear signpost of who to speak to for extra help will really help. 


  1. Mentoring – try creating a mentoring system across your organisation.  Ask your most experienced managers to become mentors for your new managers so they can support, guide and advise them through this transition period and beyond.  This will help to provide high quality training and support (points 1 & 2) and will also offer some reassurance and a safe space to explore any concerns and struggles they are facing. 


If you’re a new manager struggling to find your feet, or you’re promoting new managers in your organisation that you think could benefit from some additional support, we’d love to help. Our bespoke management development programmes are personalised and designed to fit your business like a glove, so we can support your managers to become the best they can be. The good news is leadership can be learned! Get in touch with us today. 

Article written by Nicola Blackmore – Senior Partner, Blue Gnu Consulting. March 2024. 


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