The hidden pitfalls of your first management position

The hidden pitfalls of your first management position


Bill Dueease

Copyright © 2004 by Bill Dueease

Most people aspire to eventually be promoted into a position to manage other people. Doing so normally brings more prestige, more authority (read power), more recognition and more money. However, there also numerous hidden pitfalls that comes with the first time management position. Unfortunately, these pitfalls are rarely recognized and are frequently ignored. Serious conflicts and stress occur, causing numerous problems. Consequently, the initial transition into management is frequently less than successful.

Most people are promoted into their first management position because they appear to do a better job at their non-management position. The best systems analysts are frequently promoted to team leaders. The best sales people are most often promoted to sales team managers. The best customer service people are regularly promoted to shift supervisors. The normal thinking is that the best workers will easily translate their working success into management success. These new managers are expected to perform as well in their new management position as they did on their regular job. But this transition is much more difficult than it appears.

Here are some of the important additional requirements placed on first time managers that create problems and additional stresses.

Wearing two hats

Most companies expect first time managers to continue performing their previous job AND ALSO carry out the duties and responsibilities of the new management position. The sales person is expected to continue producing the best sales results and to motivate and manage the other sales people in their group. Both positions are extremely different and will require you to change your thinking and perspectives dramatically each time you switch from one to the other. This will create confusion and conflicts and will challenge your strength and resolve.

Additional responsibilities

In addition to your continued work success, you will also be responsible for the results of the members of your group. You will have to concern yourself with the personalities, the performances, the behaviors, the attitudes, and the directions of the people in your group. You will have to learn how to observe and recognize the activities and results of your people. You will have to learn how to reward their successful and desirable behaviors, within the limits imposed upon you by the company. You will have to learn how to communicate the existence of undesirable behaviors shown by your group and how to teach and convince them to alter their activities and attitudes to improve their results. You will normally be required to perform all of these and other "management" functions, like attending management meetings, budgeting, planning, and reporting to upper management. Not recognizing that these many new duties and responsibilities are now required and not knowing how to easily and effectively perform them will normally create considerable conflicts and stress.

Additional time requirements

You will have to find time from your normal workday to perform all of the additional management functions. This will require you to either perform your regular job duties as well as before in much less time, or add more hours to your work day (normally without any additional pay other than the raise you received with the promotion, if you received any.) You will have to attend meetings, perform added management functions as a supervisor to your group, and provide required reports and presentations to upper management, while you continue your other position. This sudden, continuous, and heavy demand on your time will create considerable stress and conflicts. Many first line managers adapt by coming in earlier and leaving later (at the expense of their personal and family lives) or they forgo mid day meals (at the expense of their health) or both.

Loss of control

When you performed your line job, you normally had almost total control over the things you did and the results you achieved. For example, you controlled the energy you expended and what you said to customers as a sales person or customer service person. Or you controlled the programming you did as a systems analysts. But as a manager, you loose considerable control over the results you became responsible for. You must now rely on the efforts and activities of the people in your group to produce the results you desire for the group. This loss of control is frequently misunderstood and can be devastating. An unexpected feeling of powerlessness frequently occurs. Many new managers react to this loss of control by micromanaging their employees (at the expense of the attitude and performance of their employees) to recover some sense of control.

Loss of instant gratification

Normally you will receive almost instant gratification while performing your line job. You get instant satisfaction when a customer accepts a sale. You get instant gratification when you complete a computer trouble shoot. However, as a manager you will have to wait from a day to almost a week to learn of the results and successes (if any) of the people in your group. In this day and age of ever increasing instant gratification, these unrecognized delays in gratification can become troublesome. Many new managers try to speed up gratification by micromanaging and demanding additional hourly and daily information and reports about and from employees (at the expense of employee performance and attitudes)

Change of relationships within the company

When you were in your line job, you were part of the performers and many times the backbone of the company. You felt part of a group and you probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie and belonging. There might have been some feeling of competition within your work group, but it was most likely only based upon job performance. However, when you become a line manager, your personal and professional relationships with your past fellow workers will change. You will no longer be one of the group. You and they will look at each other and treat each other differently. You will become part of the company. You now will have powers to evaluate, reward and discipline. You will have to relay and frequently enforce company policies, and demands. Many times these policies will be unpleasant and frequently you will not agree with them.

You will enter the more competitive and cutthroat realm of management. You will feel a need to establish new relationships, and alliances. But it will not be easy and it will take time. These new relationships will create conflicts, confusion and a feeling of insecurity.

Possible solutions to being more successful and enjoying your work

Determine if accepting the first line management promotion is best for you

You will want to evaluate whether you really want to accept the promotion and all of the pitfalls that come with it. If you are very successful as a sales person and earn considerable commissions, you might want to seriously consider staying where you are rather than moving into management. Ask yourself whether the extra perks you gain offset the additional conflicts and pressures of management.

Research the actual position to discover what is involved and why

Research why you were selected and what the management job really entails. Try to find out why the previous manager departed and what he or she can tell you about what the job really entails. Find out what you will be expected to do and what results and problems exist within the group that you will have to solve early on.

Evaluate the many changes you will have to make in the new position

Recognize the new requirements and changes you will have to make to become successful in your new position. They are dramatic. Determine for yourself whether you want to make these changes, and if they are worth it. If you can, (normally with assistance from the right person) determine what it would take from the company to accept the new position to suit your priorities, talents, values and passions. Then ask for it.

Get help in deciding and in making the transition

Get as much help and support as you can. Going into this lonely arena by yourself can be devastating. Connecting with previous managers will be very helpful. But, the most important help you can get is from outside objective supporters who will assist you to learn more about yourself to grow and improve as a person to be successful in the new position in a manner that best suits you.


The first managerial step is exciting and an ego boost. It is often presented as an easy transition process. It is frequently the most dramatic single career step you will ever make. This initial management position is not as successfully performed as it appears. You want to treat it with the respect, seriousness, and importance it deserves. You will want to get strong support from others to be able to successfully transition through these very big steps.

Provided as an educational service by Bill Dueease of The Coach Connection, where “connecting great people with great coaches” is their goal. You may receive a free copy of the article “The Ten Paths to Human Improvement” by contacting The Coach Connection at 800-887-7214 or 239-415-1777 or or


Provided as an educational service by Bill Dueease of The Coach Connection, where “connecting great people with great coaches” is their goal. You may receive a free copy of the article “10 Insider Secrets Most Business Owners Never Learn” by contacting The Coach Connection at 800-887-7214 or 239-415-1777 or, or at

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