First time managers need our support!

life buoy ring hanging on a wall

For anyone who follows VTT on LinkedIn, you’ll know that we investigated what first time managers found most challenging when they transitioned into a new manager role.

We had absolutely no expectation as to the results, but what it revealed was rather interesting…

An overwhelming 50% of people said ‘Managing their own expectations’ was their biggest challenge through their journey into a new manager role.

Why did you find most challenging when you transitioned into a new manager

Well, this only opened the door to more questions in our minds… why did first time managers find it difficult to manage their expectations? Is this a new skill or are expectations genuinely different when we transition into a new manager role?

In this blog, we’ll be exploring just that!

We’ll discuss why new managers find managing their own expectations and the expectations of others a challenge. We’ll look at how we can help them to overcome this quickly and what the impact of us NOT offering enough emotional support to new managers can have, both on them as individuals, and on your organisation!

Why do first time managers find it a challenge to manage their own expectations?

We all know that a good manager juggles expectations the whole time!

Employee expectations are often a major headache for many managers. A skill that new managers learn quite quickly is never to make assumptions. Learning what their teams’ expectations are in getting a project done can prevent avoidable mistakes.

But this is something we expect to have to learn and to deal with when we move into a manager role. What we don’t expect is how hard it can be in the beginning to manage our own expectations and what we expect from ourselves in our new role as manager.

So, why is this such a challenge?

Well, another attribute of a great manager, is someone who has good people skills and natural leadership qualities. They are probably emotionally intelligent and with this empathy, it is likely they are reflective of how they come across to others and of their own expectations.
There is also another element to consider for first time managers. They are part of a close team and have developed friendly connections with their colleagues. They’re then promoted to a new role as manager and all of a sudden you go from mates…to… manager.

It can be really hard emotionally to manage your expectations of how others see you as a manager in the beginning, and like any new job role, we can hold very high expectations of ourselves, and are tough on ourselves when we make mistakes!

Is this a new skill or are expectations different when managers move into their new role?

Whether we are managers or not, we all learn at some stage in our lives how to manage our own expectations and the areas where we are most capable. It’s not that first time managers don’t have these skills but… when an employee becomes a first time manager, they have to re-learn how to manage a change or shift in our own expectations, as well as the expectations of others. This can lead to uncertainty in how to deal with this internal and external change.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that we help our new managers to recognise this potential change in their own expectations of themselves and give them all the tools they need to overcome this challenge quickly.

What is the importance of supporting new managers?

If you don’t support first time managers in the very beginning, this could have long lasting implications across their team and as a result, the overall business.

It can be difficult for teams to maintain high energy levels or enthusiasm when their manager lacks the confidence required to bring them up. Furthermore, as a result of these managers looking inward and focusing their energy on their own expectations, they will likely miss golden opportunities to praise and recognise their team. Employees might feel unappreciated and demotivated to perform well.

If new managers are left unsupported and in need of help, this will also lead to bad management habits, which will result in a negative knock-on effect, their team turnover rates. This has a huge impact on productivity, increases the stress for them and the remaining team, and will further effect morale levels.

So, what can we do to help our first time managers?

1. Help new managers to understand the psychology of change and why it’s challenging!

Like anything, if we can understand the reason why something is challenging, we can often learn to accept it, even if we don’t agree with it, and develop our own coping mechanisms as we learn how we as an individual react to change.

A great model to use that represents change is ‘The Change House’ by Claes Janssen.

If you’d like to learn about it in more detail, head over to our blog post ‘The Change House; Which room are you in?’

2. Give your managers the right tools

Make sure you equip your new managers with everything they need to know to confidently take control of their new team and feel more emotionally secure in their new role.

When managers move into their new role, they have to make a shift in mindset from being part of a team to managing one, so offering them support at the very beginning will have a huge impact on how quickly they find become comfortable in their new role. Personal development and training can be a great way to achieve this and can also this can help to set the tone for your relationship with your first time manager, by investing in them from the very start.

If you’re considering a New Manager Programme we have a whole suite of New Manager Virtual Workshops that can be tailored for your perfect solution:- Virtual Workshops

3. Create a psychologically safe environment for your new managers to be emotionally vulnerable and share their challenges with you.

Something that often holds new managers back from asking for support is that they don’t feel like they can be vulnerable in their new role, but this can be resolved by creating a psychologically safe environment from the very start. Set clear expectations that as a new manager they are not expected to ‘know it all’ from the very beginning. It’s a learning curve.

For more information about creating a psychological safe environment in the workplace and why it’s so, so important, check Amy Edmondson: Creating Psychological Safety at Work: –


It really is important to ‘onboard’ our first time managers at the very beginning; to not only support them with their daily practices but, to help them feel emotionally supported too. Managers may find managing their expectations challenging for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons can be down to change. Helping your managers to deal with change and feel psychologically safe is key in their transition.

If you don’t support your managers, they will lack confidence to effectively support their teams and in turn, decrease productivity and morale… and in some extreme cases, lead to team members resigning.

If we get it right though, it can lead to great managers, doing amazing things with their new teams from the get-go and create a long-lasting, positive experience for all involved.

If you found this blog helpful and thinking about implementing upskilling opportunities to support your new managers, check out our suite of New Manager Workshops, or get in touch and we can have a chat about the right programme for your organisation and new mangers.

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