How to Avoid Common Mistakes New Managers Make
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, often with the best of intentions, in the beginning.
Here are some of the most common mistakes new managers make:
Micromanaging: 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 successfully completes tasks. They may turn to micromanaging to feel in control. Employees resent this management style. Managers 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.
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 timeframe in which they are expected to complete the task
- 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 how to handle 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, particularly 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.
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 the things they say may be interpreted by others. 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 common mistakes
- Delegating 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
- Encouraging employees to be creative and to share ideas on how they will successfully complete their projects
- Taking time to get to know their employees if they are new to them or establishing a new manager-employee relationship with those under you 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
Dealing with issues regarding employees
New managers should consult with human resources administrators for guidance on to 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 the employees immediately
- firmly but caringly explain the issue
- discuss how the problem can be resolved
- allow the worker to explain their side of the situation
- develop a plan for improvement that is in the best interest of the employee as well as the organization
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 rebuilt over time.
© 2015 Carola Finch