No matter how well you perform and the results you achieve, there will always be challenges and obstacles that will cause you to wonder if you are going in the right direction as a manager. Those challenges will make you question the validity of your processes and cause you to slow down in your progress.
Great managers will always have to face problems or challenges that would test even the best leaders out there. This is because having to deal with people means dealing with personalities, moods, performance issues and capabilities that throws every journey you take off course.
Here are ten of the biggest challenges I feel managers face today:
1) Change is faster than we can cope with: It’s the only constant in business. We all know that external changes drive the complex situations faced by businesses today. To keep up with the changes forced upon us by competition, product improvements, service expectations, staff turnover, the economy, etc., managers have to be agile and versatile in their thoughts and actions. Running at the pace we have always run is now often not quick enough.
2) Time can’t be managed: It’s a misnomer that you can manage your time effectively. It’s not something that can be ‘managed’ in the sense that you can make it do what you want it to do. The only thing you can do is to manage yourself and your tasks in the time you have available. Today’s managers have to prioritise their workload in a way that concentrates on the important, and caters for the urgent.
3) You’ll never keep up with technology: As soon as you get up to speed with one social media add-on or new concept of doing things, another one supersedes it and demands your attention. You need to settle on the best technology that does the job for you and ensure that you’re not swayed by every new gadget or process that claims to save 1% here or £5 there. Ensure your processes work you don’t waste time trying out new fangled ideas that will detract you from the results you are trying to achieve.
4) Customers’ demands increase exponentially: Just when you think you’ve got everything right in terms of the service you give your clients, a competitor comes along and raises the bar in terms of customer expectations. By being aware of what those expectations are, you make sure you keep ahead of the game.
5) Your staff constantly need to grow: Your attention has to be on many things at once and often it’s your team who feel neglected because of lack of attention. Bear in mind that your people need opportunities to advance and progress, or their stagnation in a role may drive them to seek alternative ways of developing and progressing that may involve looking to other companies.
6) Gen X, Gen Y and Millenials require different motivational drivers: New, younger team members joining your company may require different and more varied motivational factors than people who have been with you for many years. You need to keep up to speed with what drives these younger people to perform. Just throwing more money at them and thinking they should be motivated by that is old-fashioned thinking and doesn’t match the mind-set of the new people emerging into the job market today.
7) Dealing with competitive factors: Your competitors today are many and varied. Our own competitors aren’t just other training, coaching and consulting companies; there are also many developing companies that help managers to create their futures and deal with specific issues that drive them forward in their careers. Our company has to keep pace with different forms of competition that are leaner and more efficient than ever before. You have to keep up with the way your market is developing and who your customers are looking at to solve their problems.
8) You need to evolve your strategies, processes and tactics in ways that match the market needs: Before the economic crash, it was easier to ride the crest that many businesses were enjoying. Clients’ demands were different, the market place was more uniform and the methods you used to run your business were more straightforward. Cue the economic changes that drove the world into turmoil. Nothing after that would ever be the same. If you are still trying to run your systems and processes as you did seven years ago, you will fail without trace. The way you run things has to be different because the world demands it to be.
9) Your leadership style has to be more adaptable than ever: Because of all the above, you need to be more variable than ever in the way you lead your staff to achieve the results they are capable of. One-size-fits-all management will not cut it today. Being a leader of people involves accentuating the business opportunities that come your way and assisting all staff to develop the new skills needed in the new world of work.
10) Find the time to develop your own skills: Very often we find the last person a manager thinks about sending on a training workshop or embarking on a learning programme is themselves. When was the last time you read a book, listened to a CD or watched a DVD on leadership? How much time have you spent developing you? Finding the time to keep up with the latest ideas on management and leadership is often put on the back burner for managers. You need to devote time to the greatest resource you will ever have…your own potential for improvement.
These aren’t the only ten problems great managers face; there are many more that test you and suck the energy from you on a daily basis. But the most important thing is to recognise them, face up to them and identify how each one can be dealt with so you progress towards the goals you are trying to achieve.
Head of Training and Development