Survey Reveals Biggest Challenge For New Managers

First-Time Managers Struggle Most With Balancing Own Job Duties While Overseeing Others

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 19, 2016 -- New managers face a number of challenges, but which is the most daunting? According to CFOs interviewed for a Robert Half Management Resources survey, the most difficult part of becoming a manager is balancing individual responsibilities with time spent overseeing staff. Supervising friends or former peers ranked as the second greatest concern.

New managers' greatest challenges

View an infographic of the survey results.

CFOs were asked, "In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of becoming a manager for the first time?" Their responses:

Balancing individual job responsibilities with time spent overseeing others


Supervising friends or former peers


Motivating the team


Prioritizing projects


Meeting higher performance expectations




"Becoming a manager for the first time is not always an easy transition," said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "More than simply adjusting to a new role, moving into a supervisor position requires adapting to others' work styles and needs."

Hird highlighted the importance for bosses of empowering their employees. "New managers do not need to be everything to everyone," he said. "Resist the urge to spread yourself thin trying to meet all the demands that come your way. Delegate projects to capable staff, which frees up time for you and demonstrates confidence in your team."

Robert Half Management Resources offers 10 essential tips for new managers:

  1. Know where to go for help. Learn what resources, including external subject matter experts, are available to you and where you can turn with questions.
  2. Identify a mentor. If there is no formal mentoring program, find another manager you can tap for advice or a star peer whose best attributes you want to model.
  3. Make sure you have enough staff. Nobody can be successful without adequate support. Bring in new hires and interim professionals as needed.
  4. Set expectations. Work with your manager to develop a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan. Communicate the goals to staff to ensure you have a shared vision of success.
  5. Establish boundaries. Explain what you will expect from former peers and pals and what they can expect from you. The new relationship status is not easy for them either. Acknowledging it upfront is a great way to ease tension and uncertainty.
  6. Use your calendar wisely. Schedule regular meetings with your direct reports, but also block off times to focus on your individual responsibilities.
  7. Enter with a light hand. If you force too many changes or overburden staff, they may revolt. Take a collaborative approach, and let them have a say in decisions.
  8. Find your style, but be flexible. Whenever possible, tailor your management style to each employee, and change tactics if something isn't working.
  9. Don't be too hard on yourself. You want to succeed in the new job, but cut yourself some slack. If your staff sees you putting in earnest effort and working with them to improve the organization, they'll rally around you.
  10. Have fun. Bringing levity to your role makes you more likeable. Keeping the mood light also boosts morale and helps people stay poised under pressure.

About the Research
The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

About Robert Half Management Resources
Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers assistance to business leaders and consultants at and on its blog at

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