10 Mistakes New Managers Make At Work

New manager at work trying to avoid common manager mistakes

Landing a management job is a big deal. You're moving up in your career and getting recognized for all of your hard work and accomplishments. But it takes more to be a good manager than just experience and an impressive resume.

We've all had managers at different points in our careers, and let's be honest: a few, if not the majority of them, were not good managers. And that's okay. Not everyone is cut out for a management position. But if you recently landed a job as a manager at your company, you probably want to be the best manager you can be.

Here are 10 mistakes new managers make at work that you should try to avoid:

1. Acting Too Quickly

New manager leads a meeting


New managers frequently believe that they need to change everything. They place the stamp of their own ideas on every policy, procedure, and rule. And if there are no policies and rules, they're eager to create new ones.

They act on poor performance appraisal data. They immediately favor co-worker friends for key assignments, schedules, and so on. They want to create their "own team" as quickly as possible.

2. Acting Too Slowly

New manager talks in a meeting


Other new managers act too slowly—buying into the "we've always done it that way" mindset. This can be particularly true of new managers with no management experience or very little experience with the company (e.g., a new manager hired from outside the organization).

Managers report that they intended to "wait a year or so" to learn how things work in the organization so "my employees can get to know me."

3. Failing To Assess Properly

New manager compares notes with a colleague


This mistake holds the solution to the paradox of the first two mistakes—the "just right" solution. A new manager must assess the situation of the organization, the expectations given by senior management, and the strengths and weaknesses of the department and each employee (hopefully, more focused on strengths).

Typically, a new manager is charged with solving some specific problems. Ignoring them is fatal. Not meeting with each subordinate to get to know them personally, get to know their strengths, and get their input is equally fatal.

4. Acting On Old Performance Appraisal Data

New manager discusses an issue with two employees during a meeting


Performance appraisal data is fundamentally flawed by rater bias. The appraisal data reflects more on the performance of the previous manager than it does on the employees being rated. Spending hours reviewing old performance ratings on subordinates is a waste of time.

If the previous manager was promoted because of his or her successful management of your new team, ask that manager some simple questions about each member of your new team. For example, ask: "Would you always pick (or rehire) this person for your team?"

If you're replacing a manager who was not successful, see the mistake below.

5. Focusing On Weaknesses, Not Strengths

New manager leads a business meeting


Solving key problems may be a top priority (e.g., poor customer service). But solving problems is less likely to be successful if the focus is on weaknesses instead of strengths.

If you can't objectively measure the strengths of the team using an assessment like CliftonStrengths Assessment then interview members about their strengths. Ask each one of them how they see themselves best contributing.

6. Failing To Communicate

New manager communicates with an employee during a meeting


Yes, it's a classic movie line, but it could be number one on this list. Too often, new managers lock into a learning mode to read policies and procedures. They want to "understand things" before saying anything to their new team.

The solution is simple: communicate now and communicate often. Give your team the opportunity to learn about you as you learn about them. Let them learn your communication style as you learn their styles.

7. Failing To Ask Questions

New manager on laptop thinks about her mistakes


"If I ask questions, it shows I don't know what to do." That's scary, but it's not unusual.

Too many new managers fail because of both inaction and action driven by the failure to ask. Some of the most successful managers I've known were the most curious—asking questions of their bosses, other managers, and members of their team. They had a two-year-old's curiosity and loved the "why?"

8. Treating Everyone The Same

New manager calls a team meeting


The biggest mistake all managers make, not just new managers, is trying to motivate all team members the same way—or assuming they're motivated by what you think "motivates everyone."

Motivation has some common elements known to anyone who really studies performance and it has some myths that managers routinely follow by mistake. The solution is to understand your team members' strengths. That way, you'll know more about how to best motivate each person on your team.

9. Having A 'My Way Or The Highway' Attitude

New manager complains on the phone


New managers often believe they must be the know-it-all decision maker for the team, failing to realize the job is coaching people to be top performers and NOT being the "I can do it myself" manager.

In today's multiple-skilled workforce, a manager is likely to be the least knowledgeable regarding specific job/technical knowledge. The solutions are communicating, asking, and listening!

10. Being Afraid To Fire

New manager fires an employee during a meeting


New managers are often challenged by Red Scott's "hire smart, or manage tough" dilemma with a situation created by themselves or the previous manager. Managers must know when and how to firmly make decisions (legally) that someone does not want to meet performance objectives.

A common refrain: "I know I should have terminated him/her a long time ago."

A favorite management quote: "Management is now where the medical profession was when it was decided that working in a drug store was not sufficient training to become a doctor." —Lawrence Appley

The ultimate solution to these 10 mistakes new managers make is adequate training! We wish you the best of luck in your management position and hope you receive the training you need in order to be the best manager you can be.

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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