Why being a manager should be anything but lonely

New to a role in middle-management? It’s normal to be nervous. Uniquely placed to lead a team, managers must make the tough decisions that no one else wants to make; they must take responsibility for their team. Unfortunately for many managers, the accountability associated with the role and the increased pressure to drive a department to success can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Sandwiched between those who make the rules and those who follow them, managers know they can’t please everyone all of the time – yet, when issues arise, it’s hard not to feel isolated.

If this sounds familiar, the good news is you’re not alone: in fact, according to a recent study by training firm Development Dimensions International, fewer than half (42%) of new managers believe they understand how to succeed at their jobs, only 23% actually want to lead other people, and barely one in 10 has had any formal preparation for the role.

It’s only natural – after all, the moment you step into a management role, the number of people you need to keep happy rises significantly. All of a sudden, you’re responsible for shaping these people into superstars; their success is now determined by your ability to effectively delegate, engage and inspire. As their manager, you will be responsible for setting targets and ensuring your staff meet them within a set amount of time; you must always make sure their daily tasks contribute to wider business objectives.

That’s certainly a step up from worrying about your own workload.

But the life of a manager need not be lonely.

When the pressure builds, the natural response may be to withdraw from speaking to those above you for advice. You may think you’re in this alone; that the expectation is for you to singlehandedly lead your team to success. But that’s simply not the case. There’s a reason why leaders look to promote or hire individuals with impeccable communication skills into management roles: they seek someone who can act as a channel between their team and senior management.

On one hand, they have talented members of staff to consult and bounce ideas off. These are employees that managers usually had a hand in hiring, they should be trusted enough to contribute their thoughts to current challenges within meetings. Managers who don’t simply delegate tasks but request strategic input from their staff usually see a much higher retention rate on account of the fact that employees feel valued within their company.

On the other, they have those in senior roles above them; well-seasoned professionals who have been around the block long enough to have dealt with a multitude of organisational challenges. Taking advantage of their expertise shouldn’t make a manager feel like they are incompetent or unable to handle things themselves.

Considering collaboration is often hailed as the primary driver of productivity, managers should be eager to hear the thoughts of those in senior roles prior to making an important decision. With the fresh perspective of a senior member of staff, a manager is equipped to make key decisions. Rather than “asking for help”, a manager is simply utilising a valuable resource – the expertise of their colleagues – to determine the best approach for a particular project.

In this sense, the position of a manager should be anything but lonely. Surrounded by hard-working employees and experienced leaders, support is never far.