Management Skills

The top 5 people manager challenges (and how SoapBox helps)

8 min read

Data shows that most managers experience these same five challenges. Learn about how to address each challenge, and how SoapBox can help lighten your load.

In our recent report, The State of One-on-ones, we found that managers are challenged most with the following 5 things: 

  • 68.3% – Juggling managing my team with my other responsibilities
  • 14.4% – Hitting team goals
  • 10.6% – Getting my team to collaborate with one another
  • 3.8% – Retaining my employees
  • 2.9% – Other (Including, “keeping direct reports engaged”)

Read on to learn how SoapBox helps managers tackle their biggest challenges.

Challenge #1: Juggling managing my team with my other responsibilities

When you’re promoted into a management role, often times you’re still responsible for individual contributions yourself- not to mention the added responsibility of a team of individual contributors.

One of the ways to tackle this problem head-on is to increase accountability on your team. When every individual feels accountable for the team’s success, they’re likely to become more engaged in the work they’re doing, and you’ll have a higher-performing team (meaning you’ll be more hands-off). That will ease the stress of feeling like you need to stay on top of your team all of the time to ensure they’re performing.

SoapBox helps increase accountability

Meetings are an important tool for building a culture of accountability on your team: it’s where you collaborate most. Being able to collaborate on the meeting agenda is crucial to increase accountability across the team. As a manager, you should set the expectation with your team that they are just as responsible for adding items and context to the meeting agenda prior to. This will encourage your team to feel as accountable as you in regards to the team’s success.

With SoapBox, you can also assign next steps to individuals and dates. It sounds counterintuitive to talk about increasing team accountability, and then encourage the team to assign tasks to individuals. However, in most cases, when no one individual owns a certain task, it’s likely to fall through the cracks. With one person responsible, the rest of the team is aware of who to hold accountable to that agenda item.

Challenge #2: Hitting team goals

This can be challenging for multiple reasons. A likely cause for this is if your team isn’t on the same page on: 

  1. What the priorities are 
  2. How to get there as a team

Most teams have two main recurring meetings: quarterly kickoff meetings and team meetings. But, most teams can improve on how they’re having them. When it comes to these meetings, managers need to remind the team on the goals, priorities and how to get there during every meeting. 

For example, in your quarterly kickoff meeting, you can walk through: 

  • What the team’s goals are for the quarter 
  • Any major projects that you want to accomplish as a team (and who owns what)
  • How those projects align with the company’s goals 
  • And how you will be measuring the success of those projects throughout the quarter

When it comes to team meetings, there is no “perfect” cadence or length, every team is different. At SoapBox, our teams work in bi-weekly sprints. Teams meet bi-weekly for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (depending on the team). 

To spark ideas and meaningful conversation at your next team meeting, try covering: 

  • Metrics update: How do individual or team KPIs ladder to the overall company objectives? Keep your team focused on the big picture here. Don’t go through a massive list of numbers, but rather assume that everyone has looked at the metrics prior to the meeting. 
  • Round-table plan for the sprint: What are people working on between now and the next team meeting? Prioritize tasks so that your direct reports know what’s expected from them between now and the next meeting.
  • Talk about blockers: Where, what or who are the roadblocks? Removing roadblocks is a big part of your role as a manager, so take the time to understand what your team needs from you and action on it.  You’ll be able to help get the team one step closer to achieving your goals.
  • Shout outs: Who doesn’t love recognition? Create a culture of kudos on your team to build up team morale and promote positive, dynamic relationships. This is also a great way to make sure your meetings end on a positive note!

Read more: Check out this team meeting agenda.

SoapBox helps teams hit their goals

Team meetings aren’t effective if the louder voices drown out the quieter ones. By having a shared agenda that’s available to all team members before each meeting, everyone has the opportunity, and more importantly the responsibility to contribute. When the agenda is available online, it also ensures that all team members are able to better prepare for team and quarterly kickoff meetings.

SoapBox also offers a wide range of tried and tested meeting agenda templates. These agenda templates are a great resource for new and experienced managers looking for some extra inspiration or direction.

Some agenda templates you can check out: 

Challenge #3: Getting my team to collaborate with one another

The 2019 State of One-on-ones report found that remote managers have more than twice as hard of a time getting their team to collaborate with one another. This might not be surprising considering remote teams have the added pressure of:

  • Multiple time zones 
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction 
  • All of the “technical difficulties” that can occur online

That means that, for remote managers, your meeting time is that much more precious. 

So, when it comes to team meetings, one-on-ones, and the occasional one-off meeting, you need to ensure that the meeting is organized and that everyone comes prepared. Managers, this should be an expectation that you set with your team. 

Teams collaborate better with SoapBox

With an online shared agenda, teams are also able to access the agenda prior to the meeting, read any comments or items that were added and show up prepared and ready to chat. 

Other SoapBox features that promote team collaboration: 

  • Real-time commenting: Team members can ask questions and start discussions within agenda items before or during a meeting. 
  • Meeting minutes: Whenever you finish a meeting, SoapBox will automatically send all participants meeting notes to ensure everyone is aligned on meeting outcomes. 
  • Suggested agenda items: SoapBox provides a list of tried and tested agenda questions that managers and employees can toggle through to add to their agendas. This includes questions like, “How can we improve the way our team works together?” and “As a team, is there anything we should start doing?”

Challenge #4 and #5: Retaining my employees and keeping employees engaged

Retention and employee engagement often go hand-in-hand. If your employees aren’t engaged, they’re likely not going to stick around for long. 🙅🏻‍♀️

According to Gallup’s State of The American Manager report, “managers who want to build stronger relationships with their employees should make regular meetings a priority, but they should also strive to communicate, in some way, with each team member every day.”

What’s the solution? 

Be an awesome manager. 

How? 

  1. Create an environment where your direct reports feel safe to open up about frustrations, successes and feedback as it pertains to you or their peers. In other words, foster a culture of psychological safety
  2. Be transparent. Always. Your employees want to trust you, so give them every reason to.
  3. Make it as easy as possible for your employees to provide feedback. If they come forward with a piece of feedback, put in the effort to action that feedback.
  4. Make the most of your one-on-ones. One-on-ones are one of the best opportunities managers have to build rapport with their team, and keep employees focused, productive and engaged. They’re also a great time to give and receive feedback in private.

SoapBox helps managers keep direct reports engaged

Build habits that engage your team daily

When it comes to one-on-one and team meetings, managers and their teams need more than just a list in a calendar invite or a Google doc. For direct reports to feel like they have ownership of this time, you’ll want one-on-one software, like SoapBox that encourages them to speak up. If there’s a certain project they want to work on, a skill they want to improve or if they’re having issues, you want to know about it. More importantly, you want to make the process of them being open with you seamless, simple and integrated into their day-to-day.

Brennan McEachran, CEO and Co-Founder of SoapBox puts it best: 

“When you think about the day-to-day of a people leader, they have a million tools and tech at their disposal. There are tools for project management, for ordering team lunches, to-do-lists, expenses—the list goes on. Yet, when it comes to one-on-one meetings, which is the most important time a manager has with their direct reports… Managers are whipping out a pen and paper, and at best—a google doc. It’s mind-boggling! To rip an old phrase, there are apps for that.”

Ensure every meeting is worth Everyone’s time

 As a manager, you never want your team leaving a meeting thinking, “That was a waste of time.” SoapBox helps managers improve the effectiveness of their meetings by collecting meeting feedback directly after each meeting automatically. Managers can stop second-guessing whether or not their team is engaged in meetings if there’s feedback at their fingertips and adjust meetings accordingly.


Managers, it’s time to start minimizing the challenges that you face daily. SoapBox will not only ease your stress, but it will give you the time you need to be the awesome manager your team deserves.