Three common mistakes first-time managers make
So you’ve got the promotion and the pay rise – what now?
Along with the excitement of being a new manager with authority, responsibility and status come the unknown challenges of figuring out how exactly you will guide your team to achieve great things.
In the process, it’s highly likely (mmm, more like definite) that you’ll make some mistakes. Making the transition to the role of manager is a complete gear shift that will require new skills and attitudes from you. Here are three common mistakes that new managers can make:
1. Not shifting focus to the big picture and long-term goals
Before you were a manager, you focused primarily on your sole responsibilities and the immediate tasks of your individual job. You got involved in the details and intricacies of the assignments you were tasked to complete.
As a manager, you are tasked with helping your team achieve their assignments. Your success as a leader depends on the success of your team.
You must now coach, supervise and guide your team members towards achievement. You’ll shift your focus to the big picture and the goals your team needs to kick in order to be successful.
A good manager learns to monitor their team’s progress efficiently and keep the entire team on course towards the bigger picture and long-term goals.
2. Thinking one style fits all situations
Developing your own management style doesn’t magically happen when you assume the mantle of “manager”. It takes a great deal of learning new skills, behaving in different ways, practice and application.
Also, there is no one-best-way to manage staff in all situations. To be a successful manager, you must first have some understanding of your own style, then understand the style of the people that work under you and adjust your style to create the best possible fit.
When you have mastered the art and science of ‘flexible adaptation’, your management skills will take you and your team to the next level of results and success. Adaptation for individual style preferences and work expectations is a core concept for the great manager.
3. Holding back and not making decisions
First-time managers can be eager to please their new team and often don’t want to come across as overbearing, or be perceived as jumping in too early to make changes. However, taking too long to start managing or making decisions can have the opposite effect.
Without direction, a team can quickly lose focus and run aground, often resulting in your authority and abilities being questioned. Aim for some small early wins. If there are some small changes you can make immediately, such as removing a time-consuming and unnecessary step that will help your team work more efficiently, do it.
Don’t fall into the trap of overthinking things and becoming paralysed when decisions need to be made. While you may not want to make a mistake, delaying decisions, or even worse, never making them at all, can have adverse effects.
Many emerging leaders view managing as ‘easy’ until they become a manager themselves. Managing is not easy – it’s varied, challenging and complex. Mostly due to mixed expectations and conflicting needs and objectives from multiple sources.
Finding a balance is key – between moving too fast and not moving on things at all, demonstrating authority and not being overly authoritarian, and being eager to achieve results and being realistic.
Importantly – it’s a learning process. Strive to be continually learning and you’ll be well on your way to being the successful manager you want to be.