The shoes of a manager can be a pretty intimidating fit for a lot of us. Most of the time those who find themselves as managers have little form of training or coaching. There are several opportunities for mistakes and misfires as the rookie managers try to grapple with the very new challenges presented by the position they now hold.
Today, we discuss some of the common mistakes that new managers make and how they can be avoided.
Mistake: The need to be in charge
Those new to positions of power often feel compelled to make certain everyone knows they have power. Your instinct is to say, “I am in charge.” Your instinct is wrong. People understand you are the new boss. They are looking for guidance, direction and help, not your assertion of authority. In reality, a compulsion to let people know you are the boss actually weakens your authority and credibility in the eyes of your team.
Resist the temptation to announce, “I am in charge,” and instead, focus on earning the trust of your new team members.
Mistake: Rapid change
A lot of managers assume that everything that was done before their time was wrong. If you ever thought this way, that is a good way to shoot your own credibility in the foot. Remember that your team members were part of creating the past processes and approaches, and your indictment of those methods is disrespectful an even insulting to them.
Instead of focusing on what might be wrong, engage your new team members in identifying where they want to make changes that will help them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
Mistake: Not getting to know the team members
Every member of the team is a part of the process. The manager is there to help direct their energies to where they need to go. The best way to do with is by getting to know the members as individuals. Sit down with each team member and ask for their ideas and desired changes. Wherever possible, support or empower them to make these changes. At the appropriate time, discuss their career aspirations and desired next steps and work together to define a development plan that moves them in the direction of their longer-range goals.
If you have been a team member and are now the manager, it is equally important to have those discovery discussions. Do not assume just because you know people as team members and peers that you understand their career aspirations and ideas for short-term improvements. Invest the same time in these initial discussions and focus on getting to know your team members from a new perspective.
Pay attention to your people and they will respond by paying attention to you.
Mistake: Not dealing with the problem employees
The ability to give constructive feedback is a must for managers. We understand that as a new manager, it may be difficult to muddy the waters right away by tackling long-standing employee issues. In reality, everyone is watching the new manager closely to see if she will deal with the tough people challenges on the team. Ignoring these issues undermines the manager’s credibility. In contrast, dealing with them in a timely, professional manner serves to strengthen the credibility of the new manager.
Never let the challenging people problems linger in the air. Learn and practice the are and process of delivering effective, constructive feedback, and progress plans.
Remember, everyone is watching you even when you think they aren’t.
Most new managers step into one or more of the mistakes above. And while you cannot learn to manage or lead from a book or blog, you can gain critical context for what to avoid and what to do. Forewarned is forearmed!