Mistakes new managers make

You have just been promoted…. Congratulations! While this is an exciting time for you, have you stopped to consider the mistakes new managers make, and how you can avoid them?   The spotlight is on you.  Others are watching your every move, every comment, every decision you make.

  • Your boss is watching to confirm they promoted the right person
  • The team is watching to work out what their new boss (you) will be like to work for
  • Your peers are watching to see whether you are someone who values teamwork and collaboration

The pressure and scrutiny of others are only exacerbated by the pressure we put on ourselves during the “honeymoon period”. What I have learned is that this self-imposed pressure can be the most limiting of all, as it causes us to hesitate to ask for help or to admit when we don’t know.  We misbelieve we need to take charge, take control and have all the answers from day one.

An effective new manager

Effective leaders and managers are at the heart of every successful organization, however, many companies operate a ‘sink or swim’ approach to leadership and management development and do not provide support during the critical transition.  Think about your last promotion or a new role, how did you prepare yourself for your new responsibilities?  What support did your company provide?

At SkyeTeam we know that almost every new leader and especially first-time managers will make mistakes along the way.  Here are seven of the most common mistakes new managers make, and more importantly what you can do to avoid them!

1. Not spending enough time with your new boss

Few leaders take the time to get clarity on their new role beyond reading the job description (if you have one!).  Make sure to meet with your boss to ensure that you are both clear on; their expectations of you and your role; leadership style; their perspective on your team (who are the stars and who are the ones who may need additional support); expectations on the opportunities for change (and what needs to stay the same!) and key results to be achieve.  In addition, this is an opportunity for you to share your expectations of your boss and what you need from them to ensure success, this is a partnership after all. Make sure that this is not a single conversation and that you meet regularly to review progress and receive feedback.

2. Not Getting to Know the Team

It is likely that your promotion is a result of great results in your previous role; if these were predominantly technical results then beware!  Research and experience has shown that, as you progress through your career, it is the quality of your working relationships that have a greater impact on your success. Take the time to get to know your new team AND peers to understand how you can ensure their success (and they yours).

3. Not Giving Enough Direction

Keep your team informed of project goals, priorities, critical deadlines and how success will be measured.  Discuss how these fit into the company’s overall objectives.  It’s a fine line between giving enough direction and micro-managing so encourage questions and feedback.

4. Feedback – Only Focusing on What’s Wrong

In a Ken Blanchard Companies survey of over 1,400 executives, failing to provide appropriate feedback was the most common mistake that leaders make.  Ensure that the feedback you provide is specific and describes the behaviors required for future success.  Look for opportunities to celebrate success and feedback focused on the future as well as ‘do differently’ feedback that is focused on the past.

5. Changing too much and too soon

In a desire to ‘put their stamp’ on things leaders may rush in and make changes to how things are done.  However, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, just because something isn’t being done the way you would do it, doesn’t make it wrong.   Take time to understand your new role; observe the team and ensure you have the support of key stakeholders before implementing big changes.

6. Failing to Delegate

Holding onto the tasks that got you promoted can be a particular challenge especially if you have been promoted internally, resulting in burnout, job dissatisfaction and frustration (of your team as well as yourself).   Delegating tasks will allow you the time to develop and focus on the NEW responsibilities and expectations of your role.

7. Not taking the time to learn

When we move into a new role we naturally want to show those who hired us that they made the right decision.  This can result in a failure to ask for help or to admit ‘I don’t know’.  Allow yourself (and others) to make, and learn from, mistakes.  Set aside time to reflect on what is working and what is not; what situations went well and what didn’t go to plan.  More importantly, identify what the learning and what you will do (differently) the next time the situation arises.

What mistakes have you seen new managers make?  And what advice do you have to avoid making those mistakes?

This post was updated in March 2019

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Morag Barrett helps leaders achieve outstanding results through the power of their professional relationships. She is an in-demand keynote speaker, executive coach, leadership expert, and bestselling author of three books: Cultivate: The Power of  Winning Relationships, The Future-Proof Workplace, and You, Me, We: Why we all need a friend at work (and how to show up as one!)

Morag excels at helping leaders and organizations see the gaps in their development and discover new ways to move past them. A pragmatic ideator, she finds unique solutions to problems (usually through the power of connection). Her greatest joy lies in giving leaders the tools, encouragement, and resources they need to become the best authentic versions of themselves they can be. 

She also…

  • Has helped more than 15,000 leaders from 20 countries on 4 continents improve the effectiveness of their leaders and teams.
  • Is the proud mother of three 6ft tall sons who can thoroughly beat her in basketball, but don’t stand a chance in Scrabble.
  • Has been featured by Entrepreneur.com, Forbes, and The American Management Association among others.
  • Spent three weeks at sea with a group of Estonian sailors.
  • Prefers gin to scotch, despite having a Scottish name (it means “great” …and she is!).
  • Is a member of the 100 Coaches organization formed by Marshall Goldsmith.
  • Has more than 50 unicorn themed items at home (none of which she has bought for herself!)