Team Managers: Main Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Managers de Equipo: principales desafíos y cómo superarlos

Team managers are essential to an organization’s success. They lead their teams towards greater engagement and productivity, foster a positive and motivating work environment, and contribute to the organization’s overall growth.

Recent events have prompted an increasing number of employees to turn to their direct supervisors for guidance and support. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Salesforce pointed out: in the past, employees viewed senior executives as their primary source of company information. However, that has changed. Now, employees see their direct managers as key figures to understand their organization and its priorities, even over the executive team.

Another indication of this trend shift is found in a study by GoodHire. Based on data collected from over 3,000 workers, 82% stated they would leave their job if they didn’t have a good manager, confirming the popular saying that “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses.”

Yet, managers aren’t always prepared to meet their team members’ demands, either due to insufficient training or because they are overwhelmed with work, leading to significant stress.

Moreover, new research from the Future Forum found that 43% of managers claim to be burned out, the highest percentage of any job level.

The evident question is: How can organizations remove barriers and assist their managers in becoming the inspirational leaders they need to be?

In this article, we review the main challenges and look at the solutions companies can offer to support their managers in successfully leading their teams.

Main Challenges Faced by Team Managers

We live in a world of rapid changes and constantly evolving expectations. For managers, this implies extra challenges intrinsic to their role.

Here we outline the three main challenges impacting team leaders right now:

Work Overload

81% of leaders state that overwhelming workload is the main issue they face. This situation has been greatly exacerbated by pandemic-induced work pattern changes, forcing many companies to pivot to remote work.

This shift, combined with the rise in digital technology, has led to a ‘always connected’ phenomenon: Workers are constantly online, available anytime and anywhere. Yet, this “hyper-connectivity” has its dark side.

In some cases, it has caused organizations to exert more control over their employees, blurring the line between work and personal time.

In this context, managers are under relentless pressure. They’re so busy that they barely have time to interact with their team. However, these interactions are vital for fostering employee engagement and loyalty.

Lack of Clarity in Objectives

It’s no secret that, in order to remain competitive, companies must be flexible and willing to adapt. This adaptability entails significant changes in the organization, whether in terms of its structure, as a result of a merger or acquisition, or in response to shifts in the market environment.

However, these events create a high degree of uncertainty and confusion among managers. In the face of these situations, the organization’s strategic objectives become less clear, and the roles and responsibilities of the managers become uncertain.

In a scenario of change and restructuring, a clear strategic vision is essential. But if managers do not have a solid understanding of this vision, or if they feel uncertain about their role within the organization, it becomes incredibly challenging for them to effectively communicate this vision to their teams.

And this is where a domino effect occurs. Without clear guidance, workers struggle to set priorities, leading to a decline in efficiency and productivity, making it more difficult for the organization to achieve its goals

Lack of Empowerment to Act

Continuing from the previous point, the lack of clarity creates serious problems when it comes to decision-making. However, it’s crucial that managers have access to the information and resources necessary to make informed and timely decisions.

If managers are deprived of these resources, barriers will arise in the execution of tasks and projects: decision-making delays, low productivity, and in the long run, these obstacles will negatively affect employee satisfaction and commitment.

Furthermore, the lack of clarity and delays in decision-making can be particularly challenging in remote and dispersed teams, where communication and coordination are already more complex due to geographical and temporal constraints.

That’s why organizations must strive to increase transparency and provide managers with the tools and training they need to make effective and efficient decisions.

How Can Organizations Assist Managers in Overcoming These Challenges?

Below, we present effective strategies to boost the efficacy of your team managers:

Training and Development. It’s crucial to invest in the ongoing training and development of managers. Training programs should focus on key skills such as effective communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, inclusive leadership, and change management. This will equip managers to lead their teams effectively, both now and in the future.

Satisfaction Surveys. Implementing surveys regularly is an excellent way to get honest feedback from employees about how they feel in their workplace and with their manager, invaluable for identifying areas for improvement and creating action plans to address these areas. And of course, don’t forget to share the survey results with managers to give them insights about their team and encourage them to engage in improvement actions. This approach not only supports leader empowerment but also helps boost team engagement.

Support Among Managers. Peer support is vital because even the most skilled and outstanding leaders need help dealing with the vast amount of work and the constant uncertainty that characterizes the dynamics of modern teams. An approach proven to be effective is creating forums or discussion groups where various managers in an organization exchange information, share experiences, and seek advice on the challenges they face. This kind of support among managers has many benefits, including a variety of perspectives, the opportunity to practice new skills in a safe environment, and the formation of a sustainable support network. Moreover, it provides an additional opportunity for professional development, as these initiatives allow individuals to learn from each other, enhancing their leadership skills in the process.

Effective Delegation. Delegating not only frees up time, but it also helps empower the team and develop their skills. In this context, there are three fundamental elements that will assist managers in delegating tasks more effectively:

  • Trust: When employees feel that their manager trusts their abilities and judgment, they are more motivated, engaged, and willing to take on new responsibilities.
  • Transparency: Being transparent about priorities and timelines helps team members understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Time: Managers should ensure both they and their collaborators have the necessary time to complete tasks well and without unnecessary stress.

If you, as an executive, want to take the company to the next level, it’s essential to recognize the value that managers play in building high-performing teams. By investing in the development and support of managers, you’re securing the long-term success of the organization. And this is an investment that will not only benefit the profitability of the business but also contribute to a more enriching and collaborative work environment.

It’s time to act with foresight and commitment to excellence, and that begins with strengthening those on the frontline of leadership: the managers!

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