Development

5 Common Mistakes New Managers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Written by Sarah Lybrand

Just because you’ve promoted a great employee to their first managerial position, those fresh business cards don’t mean they know what to do with their new power. When people become managers for the first time, a little extra support and guidance can go a long way. Here are just a few of the most common pitfalls they might encounter, and how to help your team steer clear.

Imposter Syndrome

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a wicked trickster. All too often, people who are fully qualified for their promotion are seduced by the snare of self-doubt—that secret dread that they don’t deserve the esteem they’ve gotten. You, their manager, can help. Make sure they know that they’ve earned their accolades, and that you have full confidence in their abilities. Better yet, offer them the training and preparation they’ll need to reach their potential.

A big head

A new manager with big ideas can become a huge asset, but turning everything upside down right away could generate resistance from their new reports. Don’t let your new manager become a dictator. Ease the transition into new processes by having them implement changes in small increments.

Note to self: it's easy to become a dictator.

Note to self: it’s easy to become a dictator.

Trying to become too well-rounded

To the extent possible, tailor your manager’s first responsibilities to their strengths. Give collaborative projects to extroverts, independent projects to introverts, quantitative projects to numbers people, and so on. They won’t always have the luxury of tackling just the work they’re comfortable with, but they’ll be more productive if they’re allowed to win with their talents right out of the gate.

Neglecting to develop

As they’ll soon find out, being a manager is more than just telling people what to do and asking for status updates. Bring out the best in your new managers with good managerial training: teach them how to manage projects, make quick decisions, motivate their reports, solve problems, communicate effectively, and lead their new teams to success.

Ignoring long-term goals

Surprise! Not every new manager is stoked about solving personnel issues or assuming budget responsibility, despite having accepted the promotion because it was good timing for the team, or because to not do so would seem ungrateful. Instead, focus your new manager on their long-term goals and ambitions. Can what they do now for the team be a skill-building stepping stone on their way somewhere else? Help your new managers carve a path to their ultimate role and in doing so, they’ll be a happier leader.

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