10 Mistakes New Managers Make

During a seven year stint providing training in the entertainment industry, one of the challenges was extremely high turnover. Inexperienced employees, with only a few weeks of experience, were promoted to supervisory positions. Even though the company provided extensive training, it was spread out over months and competed with the organization’s culture for successful application. Related: Managers: Get Things Done More Efficiently The new managers exemplified some of the common mistakes of new managers. The first two represent a “Goldilocks” problem:

1. Acting Too Quickly

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 (see #4). 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

Other new managers act too slowly – buying into “we’ve always done it that way.” 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). 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

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 personally 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

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 rating 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 are replacing a manager who was not successful, see #5.

5. Focusing On Weaknesses, Not Strengths

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 Strengths Finder™ then interview members about their strengths. Ask each one of them how they see themselves best contributing.

6. Failing To Communicate

Yes, it’s a classic movie line – but it could be #1 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 style as you learn their styles.

7. Failing To Ask Questions

“If I ask questions of my boss, it shows I don’t know what to do.” That’s scary, but I’ve long since gotten past thinking it was 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 curiosity and love the “Why?”

8. Treating Everyone The Same

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 – see #5 – understand your team member strengths and you’ll know more about individually motivating them.

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

New managers often believe that 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 in terms of specific job/technical knowledge. The solutions are communicating, asking, and listening!

10. Being Afraid To Fire

New managers are often challenged by Red Scott’s “Hire Right, 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 too common refrain is “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 the mistakes new managers make is adequate training! This post was originally published on an earlier date.

Related Posts

How To Manage Without Being Mean (Is It Possible To Not Be Pushy?) 5 Things To Consider Before You Take That Management Job #1 Key To Becoming An Effective Leader

About the author

Jim Schreier is a management consultant with a focus on management, leadership, including performance-based hiring and interviewing skills. Visit his website at www.farcliffs.com.     Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In our new YouTube series, "Well This Happened" it's your turn to be the career coach! What would you do if you asked a coworker when the baby was due and she responded with, "I'm not pregnant." Watch the video and cast your vote b posting a comment on Youtube. We'll select one person from the correct answers at random to win free membership to the Work It Daily program. Good luck!

SHOW MORE Show less

If you've ever wondered what a Work It Daily (WID) membership could do for you, a letter we got this week provides a powerful example...

SHOW MORE Show less

There are 3 things hiring managers are trying to initially assess about you in the job interview. This video walks you through what they are looking for and offers insights into the right information to give them. Be sure to check out our free resources mentioned in the video too. They are:

SHOW MORE Show less

Last week during my Office Hours on Youtube, a client asked about how to deal with a workplace bully. After spending many years in corporate HR, I flipped to the other side and became a career therapist. So, I've seen both sides of this situation in the workplace. In this video, I discuss why people struggle to deal with bullies and what you can do to change the situation instantly.

This week, I did something that truly scared me. I sent an email to over 120,000 Work It Daily newsletter subscribers and asked them to answer the question, "What do we do?"

SHOW MORE Show less

A market correction is going to happen. When it does, layoffs will follow. I've been in the HR and recruiting industry for over two decades and have seen three recessions of varying sizes. In the video above, I explain how to tell when a recession is coming and what that means to you and your career. While many people will skip watching this. Or, will watch it and do nothing. I hope YOU are the smart, savvy professional who sees how important it is to prepare for unexpected, unwelcomed career circumstances.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this video, you'll learn how to tell if your career is plateauing due to the Executive Blues. You'll also learn what you can do to fix the problem and get your "executive energy" back so you can keep your career on track and set goals to reach new heights of success!

Want to watch the full video tutorial by J.T.?

CLICK HERE to get access!