Young managers fail often, and quickly.
According to a report from CEB from 2019, sixty percent of all new managers fail during their first twenty-four months. This number is often higher in fields where the new manager is promoted from within, then is given the task of managing his former peers.
This internal promotion is often the way management works in service-based industries, such as restaurant and fitness businesses, or in nonprofits where loyalty to the cause is a criterion for promotion.
Startup tech companies are also notorious for promoting from within, elevating a loyal team member who has been around since the start into a position of leadership. These companies especially get hit hard with management failure since the person was promoted due to longevity rather than necessary skill set.
The business management tract has obviously evolved through the last decades. Old school managers were often groomed for their positions for years, were sent out to management training schools, or in larger companies were trained for months for their new roles. There was a method to management that had to be learned from those who had gone before you, and who were successful in those roles.
The business world now moves much more quickly. The big no longer eat the small, it is the fast that devour the slow, and this means fill the job now and get back to work.
One of the biggest failings in the evolution of new managers is there are fewer jobs where you become an understudy to someone who is doing the job you will be doing. Companies are leaner and no one wants to spend money to have an assistant vice-president in place for a year before he or she is promoted.
In today’s market, it is hire and move on, leaving many new managers pulled out of a team environment and thrown into a management position starting Monday. You now must manage the same people who were your equals just a few hours ago and now you must hold those you know as friends accountable for their work.
But businesses still work the same eventually. You create a concept, the concept creates income, and you seek profitability at some point. Of course, there are always the exceptions where concepts are sold which have never shown a dollar of profit, but even then, the new buyers/investors expect at some point to be able to operate this concept for a return on the investment. And to make money from any company, you need a management/leadership team who can get things done.
Here are a few reasons new managers fail so quickly
Would rather be liked than respected
Getting hired from the outside and given a team to manage is far easier than getting pulled out of your own team and thrust into a leadership role trying to manage people who are friends.
When you get promoted from within, you often fail because you are held back because of the social nuances binding you to the individuals in the group. Behavior you overlooked as a teammate, such as someone always being late, or the group gossip, now are factors in determining if your team will thrive or not. Formerly accepted negative behavior now determines your own success and own future as a manager on your way up.
The failing occurs because new managers have a need to be liked by the team instead of moving toward a more efficient relationship of respect that can be maintained
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, and at one time one of the wealthiest people in the world, said, “People work better when they know what is expected of them and then you hold them to those expectations.”
For example, the perpetually late person in the group who always walks in or logs in fifteen minutes late for every meeting, who misses deadlines and who is the master of excuses is now your problem as a manager.
If he or she is given a base expectation, held accountable to that expectation, then rewarded or discarded depending on whether he or she can rise to the accountability, you take the need to be liked out of the equation. I do not care if you like me, but I do care if you respect what I need to get done as your team leader/boss.
Never properly trained to be a manager
Few companies today have any ongoing management training, especially for the lower-level management positions. You are promoted, given some coaching by the person leaving the job (sometimes) and then are on your own to figure out how to get your new job done.
Management is getting the basic processes of the job done, such as monthly reports, budgets, and accounting. Leadership is the ability to take a team and get their best work moving toward a common goal of profitability. Most new managers get management training, but few get any type of leadership support, which sets you on the certain course of failure.
Try too hard to be one of the team rather than leading the team
If you want to exert leadership, you need to separate yourself from the team you are leading. Many new managers try too hard to stay one of the team. He or she keeps dressing like everyone else, spends too much time sitting around talking with everyone as if you are still one of them, and keeps reminding the group I am still one of you.
But again, how do you hold someone accountable, or correct inefficient behavior, if you are one of the group and not leading the group? Teams respond to strong leadership. Most teams want someone to take charge, show us the way, hold us accountable, and guide as a team, and personally, to become more successful.
For every Elon Musk, there are a thousand employees who want to follow him. Good employees do not follow equals, they follow someone who can make a decision, get things done, open up opportunities for advancement and financial success, and helps us become better today than we were yesterday.
Most importantly, and even at the lower levels, leaders create a vision of what we are doing, what needs to get done, and why it is important to this company. Leaders help us see beyond ourselves but if you spend your time trying to stay hidden as a leader who still wants to be one of the pack, you fail.
Cannot hold people accountable so you try to do it all yourself
Leaders get things done because they hold their team accountable to the work. We forget this new manager has goals to meet for the financial success of the company and work to get done and he or she is now held accountable to someone further up the food chain.
But this is the breaking point for many new managers. They cannot, or will not, hold anyone accountable so they try and do all the work themselves. He or she assigns work, it does not get done, yet the manager is being held accountable so he or she tries to get everything done in the name of the team and to protect their friends… and this always results in failure.
You simple cannot do the work of a team yourself for any length of time without breaking. The bigger issue is your supervisor will notice you cannot assign tasks and hold people accountable so while you nobly try to carry the load for everyone your boss now understands you are not a manager, and never will be one, because you cannot tap the power of the people you manage.
Drinking buddies get special treatment
If you want to manage a team you need to separate work from the after-work life. New managers who stay in the friendship circle get too involved in the personal issues which prevent your team from getting their work done.
You are also held hostage as a new leader because your drinking buddies expect special favors and perks because you are friends, not in an employee/manager relationship. Hey buddy, we just spent the weekend partying, how about putting me in for that new opening? New managers fold because the social pressure to support your friends overwhelms the need to fairly promote one who deserves and has earned a chance.
Can you have a drink with your team? Of course, but leave early and move beyond the friendship. Should you be developing new relationships with people at your own level? Yes, that is how you move up and learn from your peers and stay on an upward progression in the company.
You lead the team. They are no longer your friends. If you want to be a successful manager, you need to separate business from friendships.
Will not deal with the reality of the situation until it is too late
Another failure point for new managers is their unwillingness to ask for help until it is too late. These newbies believe you have to know it all as a manager and asking for help is a sign of weakness, but in reality, is it the other way around.
Asking good questions and showing a willingness to learn and be coached is what separates the best managers from the weak ones. You do not need all the answers; you do need to ask good questions and be willing to ask for help when you need it.
New managers often deny their inability to lead until it is too late. Projects fail, reports go overdue, the team drifts away and you, as the manager of this group, are the one who loses his job
If you get promoted, find a mentor and ask questions as to how he or she learned and why they became successful? What are their biggest mistakes, what did they read, how did they struggle with they first started?
Everything you need to be successful has been done by someone else already. You just need to ask the right questions to find the information you need to be successful.
Failing in a job is not the end of your career, but a stumble could set you back for years. New managers fail because of one big issue; they do not let go of who they were and embrace who they can be as they rise in any company.
You fail because you are held back by friendships and the need to be liked rather than respected by the people you now must lead. You also can get in trouble because you do not see your current promotion as a step forward in a long career. Careers are built one job at a time, and you should view each chance to rise, manage and lead as a way to create a long and financially successful work life.