8 Bad Mistakes New Managers Make

Jul 25, 2013
4 Min Read

Many new leaders are thrust into supervisory positions quickly, with no real management training to speak of.  So as you would expect, they make lots of mistakes.  Here are a few of the most common.  Hopefully, just being aware of them will help you and your colleagues do things differently!

Mistake #1:  Trying to be everyone’s best friend

While fostering strong one-on-one relationships with your team members is important to promote trust, your first priority should be developing your team as a cohesive whole.   Also, you must make it clear that you are not your direct reports’ friend but their supervisor, since blurring the lines too much will lead to confusion and decreased productivity.

Mistake #2: Assuming your title is a magic wand

Things will not magically get done because you are the manager and you said so.  Instead of simply issuing orders, you must inspire your team members to work with you and for you.  Authority does not automatically confer respect.  It must be earned.

Mistake #3:  Making promises you can’t keep

In your eagerness to remedy all of the wrongs on your team, it’s tempting to guarantee solutions that you can’t necessarily deliver.  Recognize that it’s better to keep promised actions more modest than to risk disappointing and frustrating your team members by failing to keep your word.

Mistake #4: Changing everything

Many new managers make the mistake of trying to overhaul the whole organization in their first few months.  Things are usually done a certain way for a reason, and that reason may not be incorrect.  Introduce your new ideas one at a time, soliciting buy-in and support gradually.

Mistake #5:  Presenting yourself as infallible

Getting promoted does not make you Superman (or Superwoman).  New leaders who hide their weaknesses or pretend that they know everything stunt their own professional development and risk the business’ health.

Mistake #6:  Getting mired in the details

As a manager, your role is to understand and focus on the big picture.  By trying to micromanage every project, you’ll be a bottleneck and a barrier to progress.  Delegate sensibly and trust your team members to take care of the minutiae.

Mistake #7:  Steering clear of confrontation

No one wants to criticize employees, even if done constructively.  But as a leader, you cannot tolerate insubordination or poor performance.  Recognize that burying your head in the sand because you don’t want to make waves will only make whatever problem your team is facing worse.  Have that difficult conversation now.

Mistake #8:  Failing to seek guidance and support

Mentors need mentors too, especially when entering a new role with different roles and expectations.  Don’t try to do it alone.  When in doubt, seek out the opinions and expertise of other senior leaders.  Your transition will be much less painful.

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