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How to Avoid Common Mistakes New Managers Make

Carola is an entrepreneur and freelance writer. She has worked in the business world as administrative support for many years.


Manager. The title feels good. When you become a manager, you may suddenly feel empowered and ready to correct all the failings in your workplace. If you have risen through the ranks, your mind is teeming with solutions to problems that have plagued you for years.

No matter how talented and well-suited you are to your position, however, you may make some mistakes in the beginning, often with the best of intentions.

Common Mistakes New Managers Make

Here are some of the most common mistakes new managers make.


Managers are tempted to establish their authority by flexing their administrative muscles. They may feel pressured by their superiors to ensure the team works well and completes tasks successfully. They may turn to micromanaging to feel in control. Employees may resent this management style. Employees hate to have someone always looking over their shoulders and telling them what to do. Employees may resent the intrusions and turn against their managers.

Taking on too much responsibility

New administrators may not realize how much time is needed to manage people for phone calls, meetings, emails, employee drop-ins on top of fulfilling their new duties. If they do not make time in their day for the employees they supervise, they may end up with too much work on their hands.

Many new managers don't give their employees enough direction.

Many new managers don't give their employees enough direction.

Giving too little direction

Employees need to have a clear understanding of:

  • what is expected of them
  • the goals of company projects
  • the resources available that can help them do their tasks
  • the time frame in which they are expected to complete the task
  • deadlines
  • what determines success

Ignoring behavioral and performance issues among employees

Managers are often promoted because of their administrative and project management skills. They have not received training in handling employee issues and concerns. This situation is even more challenging if managers are now overseeing their former peers. If new managers do not address employee issues, some employees may begin to think that they can get away with their bad behavior. Their peers may resent the managers for not taking action to resolve the situation.

Making too many changes at once

New managers who have risen through the ranks may see work methods or the use of resources that could be improved and are itching to change things. Some may make too many changes at once. Employees may find the changes difficult to understand or to accept. Any changes should be made gradually and be clearly explained to workers.

Not being accountable

It is easy for managers to point the finger at others when things go wrong, especially if a rogue employee has contributed to the problem. Managers need to admit when they make mistakes and take responsibility. They should not, however, take responsibility for something that is not their fault, as doing so could damage their professional reputation.

Taking credit for a team effort

Some managers take credit for other people's work, causing resentment among the members of their teams. They may do this unconsciously – for example, accepting compliments from higher-ups without acknowledging the contribution of their team.

Has a manager ever taken credit for your work?

Has a manager ever taken credit for your work?

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Breaking Human resources regulations or going against company policy

Managers are aware of obvious rules such as those against racial discrimination but may not realize that certain remarks regarding race or gender can get them into trouble.

New managers should be mindful of how others may interpret the things they say. If they are new to the organization, they should read human resources materials and ask questions about the office culture.

How New Managers Can Avoid These Mistakes

  • Delegate tasks instead of taking them on themselves
  • Clearly explaining their expectations, the goals of their projects, and how success will be measured to employees
  • Allow employees some autonomy such as letting them decide how workers can complete their tasks
  • Support workers by explaining various ways that employees can accomplish their tasks and making suggestions about how they can achieve the organization's goals
  • Encourage employees to be creative and to share ideas on how they will successfully complete their projects
  • Take time to get to know their employees if they are new or establishing a new manager-employee relationship with those who are former co-workers
  • Work on developing a working relationship and trust among your employees before making changes
  • Maintain a balance between production, planning, and managing people by saying no to unreasonable deadlines or new projects that may be too time consuming
  • Educate yourself about your company's policies and human resource procedures
  • Think before you speak - your words may be innocent enough, but may be misinterpreted as discriminatory
  • Make sure that any private employee information such as salary or performance reviews are kept confidential
  • Accept responsibility when things go wrong - you are responsible for the performance of your employees, so share the blame if you have not given enough direction, gave wrong advice, or made decisions without checking in with them
  • Make sacrifices when needed such as working extra hours alongside the team or giving them the first pick of holiday times
  • Be willing to give workers opportunities to work on plum projects that will stretch them
  • Acknowledge the employees' successes in the workplace and reward major accomplishments
It's important for managers to resolve problems at work promptly.

It's important for managers to resolve problems at work promptly.

Dealing With Issues with Employees

New managers should consult with human resources administrators for guidance on how to handle behavior, attitude, or performance issues.

When issues come up, there are several ways new managers can approach them:

  • deal with the issues by talking to employees immediately
  • firmly but caringly explain the issues
  • discuss how the problems can be resolved
  • allow workers to explain their side of the situations
  • develop an improvement plan that is in the best interest of the employee as well as the organization

Concluding Thoughts

If mistakes are made, the damage is not irreparable. Employees usually will give new managers a grace period during the first few months. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. When employees see that managers are willing to give them some leeway and are making positive changes at an acceptable pace, trust and healthy relationships can be built over time.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2015 Carola Finch


Don Colfax from Easton, Pennsylvania on July 10, 2015:

Great hub, love the style.

As someone who works in management myself I have to admit I've struggled with a few of these from time to time. Especially the 'micromanaging' and 'making too changes' parts.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 14, 2015:

Very well done! This should be provided to new managers as a primer. Voted up and more and sharing.

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