After years of relentless hard work and patience, you’re finally the captain of the ship and the star of the show. Yes, you’re finally a manager!
On your first day as a new manager, you’ll rejoice at proving your worth and abilities, but there’s a catch – this day will also mark the beginning of a new journey with more significant challenges and new responsibilities.
Suddenly, your colleagues will become your direct reports, and will look up to you for guidance. You will no longer be implementing the strategies; you will be designing them. Your first few moves will form an opinion about your competency as a manager. What worked great for you as an individual worker might not work for you as a manager.
If we have scared you out of your wits and you have just toned down the celebrations, we would like to apologize. When you don a more prominent role, you’re bound to face new situations. The only way to counter them is to be prepared.
In this article, we will discuss a few common mistakes that new managers make and how to avoid them. Some of them seem insignificant, but their after-effects are long-lasting. Some of them are well-known, but there seems to be no solution for them.
With this article, we present to you a well-researched guide to excel as a new manager by foreseeing the mistakes you can make and avoiding them. Let’s begin!
1. Not Building Meaningful Relationships
The first responsibility of any manager is to garner a sense of belonging and trust among the direct-reports. Put yourself in their shoes and try to recall your favorite instances under a manager. You are most likely to remember those leaders who showed faith in you.
Modern work culture has team-building activities strung in its essence. From the induction of new employees to annual meetings, every event has a team-building exercise. Most new managers end up relying on these activities to form effective relationships.
We agree these activities are great for rejuvenation once in a while, but nothing can beat the magic of an excellent conversation for building and strengthening relationships.
The magic of a simple hello and a genuine interest in your direct-reports’ lives can make them feel more connected to you.
Research suggests that when direct-reports feel trusted by their manager, they’re likely to put more effort. And you cannot achieve this unless you try to get to know each one of them.
PRO TIP: Utilize your one-on-one meeting as an opportunity to form better relationships. Let your conversations go beyond professional matters, and you will see a positive difference. If you are finding it difficult to start a conversation, here’s a list of 1 on 1 meeting questions for you.
2. Treating One-on-Ones like a formality
Most organizations have inculcated a culture of one-on-one in their routine. However, that is what has become their biggest threat – routine.
One-on-one meetings aim to provide a space wherein a manager and a direct-report can discuss things beyond business. This simple tool can help you motivate your employees to contribute their best to the organizational goal.
In fact, a one-one-one can become a new manager’s most significant support if used efficiently.
However, a new manager may make some common mistakes during one-on-one meetings which can be easily avoided.
In a detailed report by Harvard Business Review, it has been stated that the direct reports who have more 1:1 meetings are 67% less likely to be disengaged. Thus, we can safely conclude that if you want to build an engaged team as a new manager, one-on-ones are one of your most effective tools.
PRO TIP: Most new managers find themselves in a fix with setting an agenda for a one-on-one. An agenda can help you in driving the conversation and getting the best output. The best way to do this is by doing this exercise collaboratively. A one-on-one meeting software (like Peoplebox) can help you set an agenda, collaborate with your direct report, and even help you in follow-ups.
3. Avoiding Difficult Conversations
A few days ago, you were sitting with your colleagues, discussing how your manager would react on a missed deadline… Today, you ARE that manager who needs to reprimand her direct-report for their performances. Sweating already, are you?
Being a manager has its shares of tough calls and uneasy situations. Difficult conversations are a part and parcel of a manger’s everyday tasks.
Research suggests that employees in the US spend nearly three hours every week on managing conflicts. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be the front-runner in resolving them.
As a new manager, you would face the challenge of providing negative feedback, in a positive light.
Providing constructive and timely criticism is an art and can be mastered only with practice and patience.
According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 57% employees prefer corrective feedback over straight praise. So, don’t avoid that difficult conversation, and postpone it. The more you delay the conversation, more you increase the chances of your team postponing success.
PRO TIP: The more direct you are, the better it will be. But remember, you can be kind and assertive at the same time. Your choice of words plays a significant role in steering the outcome of a conversation. Keep the criticism private and praise publicly. Be spontaneous with you feedback, don’t park it for later.
4. Not Delegating Work
You know you’re good at your job, and that’s why you got promoted, right? But now the tables have turned.
You are no longer an individual contributor. A large part of your job is to do your best in getting the best out of your team. And you cannot do that unless you trust them with their abilities.
Not delegating and hoarding work is a trait of micromanagers, and you certainly don’t want to be one if you want to be great manager someday.
It may seem easier to do a task yourself than training someone else to do it, but it will only become your bane in the long run. You have a separate set of responsibilities that need your attention now!
Training someone else to do a task can be frustrating at first, but it is essential for a smooth transition. Your leadership chose you to lead a team of people who can perform to your level of excellence under your mentorship.
PRO TIP: Seek advice from your senior managers. Remember the time when your seniors trained you in your initial days. Most often, a good mentee becomes a great mentor in future. Thus, take inspiration from your guides. Most importantly, have faith in your team and be patient with them.
5. Not Communicating Effectively
Effective communication is the foundation of excellent management. Yet, it is often overlooked and taken for granted. You must remember that communication is incomplete until it reaches the person in its intended manner.
Most new managers believe that they have been communicating well with their direct reports. The direct reports, however, have a different story to tell. As per a study by about.com, 62% of employees cited ineffective communication as their reason to dislike a particular job.
If communication is as great as a manger believes, why would such a staggering number of people be dissatisfied?
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
— George Bernard Shaw
Communication is not a process; it’s an ongoing, continuous cycle. After you have informed your direct reports, it is vital to take their feedback and follow-up.
Good communication lets employees know what they’re expected to do, whereas great communication motivates them to go beyond their designated tasks. Here are four essentials of effective communication:
Be clear in your communication. Don’t mince your words. Direct communication is the best form of communication.
Do not wait for the right time to communicate with your employees. If it is a crucial decision involving them, you must convey it immediately, preferably in person.
You must convey only the truth, and nothing else. Telling wrong things to the employees will only lead them to distrust you and may also hamper their productivity.
Listening is a very important part of communicating. Once you have shared your part of information, wait for them to share their views or ask questions, and resolve any doubt they may have.
PRO TIP: We cannot stress enough on the importance of one-on-ones. One on one meetings are designed to help take organizational communication to the next level, and you must use them to churn out the best.
6. Avoiding career conversations
So, you had a little talk about your direct reports professional strength in your meeting, and you believe that it’s enough “career talk”? If this sounds familiar, then you may have committed a big management blunder.
Your star employees know their value and are looking for a manager who takes an interest in their career growth.
As per research, 89% of the employees feel that they need to be in charge of their career development. But, only 16%of them have an ongoing conversation about careers with their managers.
As a new manager, you may feel inept at providing the right guidance to your employees. You may also be avoiding these discussions to discourage giving false hopes of a promotion.
However, most employees only need to find a sense of fulfillment in their current roles. As a manager, you need to help them find the best fit for their skills and a way to utilize them better.
In fact, a new manager can be more helpful as he/she knows what it takes to climb up the corporate ladder. You can help them grow in their current roles and support their plans for their personal development.
A manager builds a team that works for the organization while a mentor makes people who work alongside him for bigger goals. Be a mentor.
PRO TIP: Dedicate a part of your one-on-one to discuss a direct report’s personal goals. Ask them about the challenges they face and what they like the best in a project.
Always offer them feedback and help them overcome their weaknesses. You can amplify this by adding this to the agenda and letting them know about it beforehand.
7. Not recognizing when it’s due
You have been to the other side. You know how much it matters to know that your manager takes keen interest in your work.
Motivating your employees is your most significant responsibility and recognition plays a vital role in doing that. It is even more critical for new managers as it can help them build mutual trust with their direct reports.
A genuine token of appreciation can help your team to contribute better in a project. It is the easiest way to boost morale and improve employee engagement.
Yet, some of the best managers are bad at giving praise. In fact, new managers avoid these conversations as they don’t want to sound boastful of their position.
As a new manager, you must use the power of empathy to its best.
You must relate with them and you don’t have to speak like a manager while recognizing. All you need is to be genuine.
A “Well Done! Sharon” or “That was such a big help, Jo” doesn’t take time but has a high impact. So, don’t hold back from lifting someone.
PRO TIP: Keep the recognition public. Sending out a group mail? Try praising a direct-report who performed well in it. Want to say thank you to an employee who went out of her way for a project? Draft a thank you mail for her and cc your project leads on it.
8. Not Seeking Support
So, you’re the leader of a team now, and you need to prove yourself worthy of the title. There are chances that you would stop taking any help and shoulder every responsibility alone.
This aversion for seeking help is going to be your biggest mistake as a new manager.
You may be a manager now, but you’re new at this particular role. Talking to someone who has committed the same mistakes can help you avoid them. Or solve them quickly at least.
It is a learning process, and you need to have the guidance of experienced personnel. Sometimes, admitting your weakness can help you build more strength.
PRO TIP: A one-on-one with your senior manager is a good idea. Talk to them about your challenges and learn from their experiences. This new role is your chance to build a better culture by understanding the challenges beforehand.
9. Depending on the title
Your designation says that you’re a manager but you cannot rely on this title only, for your team to look up to you as their leader.
A promotion can get you a title and better pay, but it cannot help you win your team’s trust. Employees follow the actions and behaviors instead of a person or title.
Your promotion shows that your seniors believe in your potential to lead. It is time for you to gain the same trust from the people you’re expected to lead.
A good manager directs people to perform while a great manager leads by example. You need to show your direct reports that you understand their job, challenges and can help them build themselves.
You need them to believe that you’re on their side. People work better for those who work for their betterment and growth.
PRO TIP: Be available. An absent manager is as good as no manager. Your presence and involvement in their tasks will help them feel motivated. But, never micro-manage. Let your direct-reports do the job but be around whenever they need help.
Your promotion is only the first step on your journey to become a leader. The real work starts now. Managing people is not an easy task, but it can become better with the right guidance and tips.
As a first time manager, it is easier for you to understand your direct reports’ dilemma and perspective. You must use this knowledge to become a people’s leader.
Remember, managing people is more than getting tasks completed. Your job is to lead people towards a better future, and you will be able to do so if you don’t make these avoidable mistakes.
Want to become a better manager?
Start with great 1-on-1s to build high performing teams.