5 Biggest Mistakes New Managers Make and How To Avoid Them
Becoming a manager is an exciting time. It is filled with possibility, hope and lots of learning. We all make mistakes. If you want to reduce your learning curve and maximize your long term management success, here are the 5 biggest mistakes new managers make and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Being too friendly
When you become a new manager, it’s common to want everyone to like you. You want to get off on the right foot. One of the biggest mistakes new managers make is being too friendly with their team. This can be especially prevalent with people that manage a team that they were promoted from. Managing people that used to be co-workers can be especially difficult. Whether this is the case or whether you are a new manager of a new team, being too friendly shows up in one of several ways, including:
- Going to lunch with your team on a regular basis.
- Going to happy hour or other off site personal events with your team.
- Confiding in employees with information that isn’t appropriate to share.
- Inviting your employees on trips/vacations.
- Exercising favoritism.
- Invite your employees to be friends on social media.
- Dating employees or co-workers.
There are certainly other examples of this in action; however, the point here is, as a new manager, you NEED to be respected; not liked. If you happen to be both liked and respected, fabulous. However, you must have boundaries and be careful not to cross the professional relationship line.
Caveat: I believe it’s okay to attend a wedding, funeral, company sponsored baby shower, off-site strategic planning meetings, and company sponsored employee celebrations such as birthdays, retirement parties, and such.
ACTION: Create clear boundaries, decline happy hour or lunch invites, refrain from having favorites. Don’t get drunk around your team, keep your mouth shut and don’t engage in gossip or sharing of information that should be reserved for management.
Remember, as a new manager, everyone is watching you. Everything you say and do matters.Remember, as a new manager, everyone is watching you. Everything you say and do matters. Click To Tweet
Your behavior dictates whether you are taken seriously or not, whether your team respects you and will follow you or not and how much productivity you ultimately achieve.
Mistake #2: Micromanaging
Ahhhhh, this is an interesting topic because it plays to your management style (#3 mistake) yet can take on a life of its own. Micromanaging shows up, in part, by:
- Dictating the what and the how of a task down to the most minuscule details.
- Requiring employees to track ALL their time; down to every five minutes.
- Not allowing employees to take breaks or dictating exactly when and how they spend their breaks.
- Constantly asking employees the status of xxx, y, and z.
- Conveying a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.
Caveat: If an employee is going through the disciplinary process, you may need to keep a closer eye on things. That’s not what we are talking about here. We are also not talking about highly regulated environments where specific things must be tracked and done a certain way. Call center environments may also need to dictate schedules, breaks, lunches and such for customer coverage.
Also, as a new manager, there is some merit to the idea that it’s easier to loosen the reigns over time than it is to tighten the reigns. You need to find the right balance for you, your team and overall culture you want to create.
ACTION: Be sure that employees receive the right training, resources and support to do their jobs effectively. If an employee has all of this, they shouldn’t need to be micromanaged. You are paying them to do a job. Let them shine and show you what they are capable of.
Mistake #3: Not finding your own management style
It’s common for new managers to emulate other managers or leaders they admire. It’s easy to compare yourself to what other managers and teams are doing. As a new manager, the biggest thing you can do to help yourself is finding a management style that fits YOU. Trust me, employees know when you are insincere or behaving in a way that is inconsistent with their experience of working with you. This can show up by:
- Mimicking someone else’s style exactly.
- Changing course with the wind.
- Being inconsistent with what you say and do.
- Behaving in a way that’s inconsistent with your values.
- Doing or saying something because someone else did ‘that’.
- Treating everyone the exact same way.
As a new manager, I remember thinking that I learned more from the bad managers than I did the good ones. I knew what I didn’t want to do as a manager. This helped me create a style that was uniquely my own.
Caveat: Sometimes, people are promoted into management roles because they were good at their jobs technically. This doesn’t make for an automatic success in management. Before promoting someone to management, be sure they have the right skills and abilities to become a world-class manager. Be sure to give them training and coaching on what an effective manager looks like. Help them be successful. In doing so, your entire organization benefits.
ACTION: Tune in to what kind of environment you want to create, what kind of engagement you want, and what management legacy you want to have. Listen to your internal guidance system and do what feels right for you. Get management training and development. If it’s not available inside your organization, take a class in the community or hire a coach. Remember, different things motivate everyone. Find what those things are. Find what makes your employees tick, where their strengths lie and play to that.Find what makes your employees tick, where their strengths lie and play to that. Click To Tweet
Mistake #4: Not taking action or making decisions
As a new manager, you may be afraid to make a decision or take action on something. You may feel paralyzed because you don’t want to make the wrong decisions. You may delay taking action out of fear of failure (or success). There are many reasons why you might delay action or decisions, including:
- You may not have all the information to make a good decision.
- You may not want to look bad by making a wrong decision.
- You may want someone else to make the decision for you or wait to see what happens.
- You may suffer from analysis paralysis and want mounds and mounds of ‘evidence’ before making a decision.
- You may not have confidence in the analysis available to you.
- You may want everything aligned PERFECTLY.
ACTION: The list is endless and one thing is for certain. When you don’t take action and make decisions, your team may stand still. You team loses confidence in you. Your credibility is questioned. As is the case in life, you’ve got to feel the fear and take action. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect. It’s only progress that matters! When making a decision, you are then able to improve on it. An important point about decisions… when you make the wrong decisions (and you will), own up to it, take responsibility and learn from it. THIS is golden and others will respect you for it.
Mistake #5: Communication
New managers often question whether they are communicating enough or not enough. They wonder whether they are communicating the right way or whether there is a ‘right way’. They question the timing of communication. Communication is such a broad topic and the topic depends on how and when you communicate. Communication issues vary and include but aren’t limited to:
- Communicating something to one person and expecting that person to tell everyone else.
- Communicating via email and not being clear in the subject line what your message is about and why they should care.
- How to communicate with customers/clients.
- How to effectively resolve conflicts among team members or colleagues.
- When to share what about projects or policy changes and in what format you share.
- Leaving lots to be desired about HOW you communicate. Tone is everything!
- Not being aware of your body language when communicating and being inconsistent with what you say, how you say it and what your body is saying.
- Being afraid to confront someone and sending an email in lieu of having a personal conversation.
- Using email as a way to be more aggressive than you would in person.
- Feeding the gossip mill.
- Encourage skipping the chain of command for routine issues that first line managers should handle.
Some people like to communicate in person while others prefer to communicate via email. Communication really is key. The majority of how we communicate occurs with our body language, then with how we communicate and then with what we are actually saying. Lack of effective communication is something I saw over and over and over again among leadership and management. How you communicate depends on what you are communicating.
ACTION: Here are some general communication rules to follow:
- For policy and procedure changes, communicate in writing so everyone receives the same information at the same time. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to talk about it in a team meeting, too, and address any Q&A.
- For systems, operational and general projects that affect your team, keep everyone updated in an email and be sure to address any issues or concerns. Be sure to communicate back out to everyone with responses to issues raised. If one person had a question, others may have wondered this as well.
- When getting to know someone, it’s best to meet in person or via video conference (if you aren’t physically in the same city or state). Communication is about connection. People connect with other people best when they know the other person cares enough about them to actually sit down and talk with them.
- When having a disciplinary discussion, always have the conversation in person. If needed, send a follow up email summarizing your discussion and next steps, etc…. Never just send an email and not have a conversation about the matter.
- Praise in public and reprimand in private.
- Model the behavior you want to see in others.
- Have an open door policy, regularly walk around and say hello, good morning, ask about their lives and generally connect with your team.
Another KEY action I strongly recommend is learning about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). This will help you learn how people relate and give you the tools to speak to people the way they connect. For example, a visual person may say, “I see…”, a feeling person may say, “I feel….”, an auditory person may say, “I hear”, a digital person may say, “I think.” One of the best and easiest books I’ve read about this is “The Law of Connection” by Michael Losier. He offers a free assessment to determine what your communication style is. I encourage you (and your entire team) to complete this. You’ll learn a lot! You can purchase this valuable book here.
There are a lot of moving parts to balance as a new manager. Ensuring you aren’t too friendly, not micromanaging, finding your personal management style, having confidence in your decisions and effectively communicating are absolutely essential to your management career. These are all things that will help you build trust and credibility.
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What are your thoughts about this article? What are the biggest management mistakes you’ve seen new managers make? Please comment below.