Hey congratulations on your promotion if you’re a new manager. The step you’re taking is one of the most significant transitions that you will make in the course of your career – moving from performing an operational, doing role and stepping into the leadership role..
Chances are that you’ve been recognised because you’ve displayed solid technical skills combined with a good work ethic. Someone has seen the leadership potential in you – and has shown faith that you will be capable of learning how to manage the work of others.
But don’t kid yourself …… there’s a lot to learn and there will be some periods of frustration and uncertainty along the way for you.
Many new managers find that it can take at least 12 months before they start feeling confident that they understand the role and what’s expected of them – and eventually begin to develop the skills and the judgement that is needed as a manager.
New manager pitfalls to avoid
So what are some of the most common mistakes that new managers make? Here are three of the pitfalls that you will need to watch out for – otherwise they can all too easily become career killers …..
- Hanging onto your old job …… If you’ve appointed someone else to replace you in your old role, then of course you will need to ensure that they receive the technical training that is essential for them to succeed…… But then get out of their way. Yes, you monitor their progress and sometimes you might still need to provide some gentle reminders – but let them do the job they are paid to do. Your job is now overseeing the work of the whole team. If you continue to do excessive hands-on work yourself, then when is the forward planning, organising and coordinating work getting done on behalf of the team? Forward thinking and planning is what helps prevent operational pressure and problems for your team – so don’t undervalue the importance of allocating time to this.
- Thinking and acting as though you’ve got to have all the answers …… When operational problems arise, remember you have a team. Don’t be afraid to consult with them and get their thoughts. Chances are that there will usually be someone in the team with the experience or the ideas to help find a solution. By respecting and acknowledging the experience of the team and seeking their input into planning and problem solving, you will likely find that most staff will respond and actually welcome the opportunity to become more engaged.
- Waiting too long to deal with staff performance issues ….. Even experienced managers can struggle to deal constructively with unsatisfactory employee performance. It can be even more daunting for a new manager who can often worry too much about being “liked” by team-members. The fear of damaging working relationships as well as the uncertainty of how to deal with an under-performing staff member means that the new manager ends up being over-tolerant of performance or behaviour that is unacceptable. These types of performance issues that the new manager fails to address can result in a loss of respect from the team. Now this does not mean the new manager should be jumping in boots and all at the first sign of unsatisfactory performance – instead it means being willing to have a quiet chat with the employee to explore what’s needed to get things back on track.
- Saying yes to everything – It’s understandable that a new manager wants to be seen by others as competent and prove themselves worthy of the promotion. However this doesn’t mean taking on an unreasonable workload. If you say yes to all of your clients unreasonable deadlines, if you say yes to your manager each time they want to delegate extra tasks and additional projects to your team without pushing back in some way – then you run the risk of burning out both yourself and your team. Part of your job as a manager is to set boundaries with stakeholders (whilst still being seen as helpful) – you’ve got to be able to negotiate with both senior management and clients to protect your team from unreasonable demands. When your team becomes overloaded – define for them what the priorities should be. Then later step back and review how demands can be more reasonably managed in future.
Tips for the new manager
So what are some quick and easy things that you can do as a new manager to begin the process of winning respect and establishing yourself in the role …..
- Learn more about each individual team member – Discuss what they see as their role and check how this compares to any existing job description. Explore with staff what they see as their strengths, which skills they enjoy using and what potential career aspirations they might have. And check whether they feel there are any specific issues that need to be addressed in the team
- Have brief weekly team meetings – Ensure that the team are kept informed about what’s going on in the wider organisation, as well as giving each team member the opportunity to report what they’re working on and raise any concerns they may have. Use the meeting also as an opportunity to publicly congratulate any particular team-member for good client feedback that’s been received or for their successful completion of a significant task or project.
- Find yourself a mentor – Hopefully your manager is offering you some guidance, but additionally consider seeking a mentor from outside of your functional area. Being able to confide in someone that you trust and get off your chest some of the inevitable frustrations and anxiety you may be feeling at times, will be important for your own well-being. Having the benefit of an experienced manager’s advice will help you keep perspective and sometimes simply give you the reassurance that you are indeed doing the right thing. And your mentor will tell you that even the best manager’s sometimes make mistakes – so cut yourself some slack when you end up making a few. Be patient with yourself; with experience your confidence will grow. Just keep on learning – and consider attending a leadership skills course
About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of the corporate training company, Performance Development
He is a psychologist by background and has more than 20 years experience working in the field of management development
His passion is to help people develop the mindset and skills they need to achieve their full potential.