Survey Reveals Biggest Challenge for New Managers

May 19, 2016

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

Toronto, ON – New managers face a number of challenges, but which is the most daunting? According to Canadian 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. Meeting higher performance expectations ranked as the second greatest concern.

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


Meeting higher performance expectations


Motivating the team


Prioritizing projects


Supervising friends or former peers




*Total does not equal 100 per cent due to rounding.

View an infographic of the survey results.

“Transitioning into a new role as a first-time manager can be an intimidating experience, even for someone who has individually had professional success,” said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources. “Beyond the added technical skills, management positions require a unique set of interpersonal skills to adapt to the needs, work tendencies and career aspirations of others.”

“New managers should look to their teams for support,” added King. “Transparency and partnership on plans and projects demonstrate confidence in employees’ abilities, opens up the opportunity for collaboration amongst team members, and frees up time for managers to ensure the business’s strategic goals are being met.”


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 mentorship 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 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in Canada.

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 Follow us at and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace advice and hiring trends.


For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]