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Easily Avoid These 10 Most Common Mistakes New Managers Make

10 Most Common Mistakes New Managers Make
Learn which ten most common mistakes a new manager is likely to make, and how to avoid them, here.
Neha Deshmukh
Last Updated: Jan 16, 2019
The leadership team is the most important asset of the company and can be its worst liability.
- Med Jones
A manager needs an extensive set of skills - communication being the most important. Also, equally important are leadership, organizational, and financial skills.
You might have learned these all theoretically in B-school, and perhaps, have some experience due in part to your old job. But, to implement them successfully in real-life situations is a bit of hit-and-miss, especially if you are new and inexperienced.
You are expected to lead a team of people who have been in the company for years, are very experienced and set in their ways. To guide and mentor them is no easy task. You also have to coordinate with other departments and the upper management - understand their vision, and direct your subordinates accordingly.
Being new, it might take a while for you to know the work culture, subordinates, and top brass of your company. What they expect out of you will also vary from person to person. But some mistakes are pretty common and are repeated over and over by new managers.
Mistake - Who's the Boss?
Manager demanding explanation
"I asked John to finish the Centurion reports first. Why is he still working on Brevino's tax file?"
Some of your subordinates will be young and new, eager to follow you. But, the experienced ones might be resistant to your directives. Especially if it comes across as an order, disregarding their experience. Though, being the one with the responsibility, you also need to assert your authority, and make sure your employees respect you and follow you.
Your subordinates have a working style of their own, and it will not work well to dictate your ways on them. Stay cool as long as they are committed to the work, compliance is another matter. Set targets and deadlines, but do not interfere in their work, especially if they are long-standing employees in the company, even though you are in the upper position.
Mistake - I Want to Be the Cool Guy
Friendly boss talking with employee
"Oh, you are tired from last night's party. No problem, take a day off."
While understanding your subordinates' viewpoint and respecting their opinions is important, it is another thing if you are letting them run the show or take it easy. It is you, after all, who will have to explain things when the performance falls.
You have to find a balance between micromanaging and giving no direction at all. Keep your mind open for suggestions, listen to everyone, but ultimately you have to decide on the final direction your team/company takes. Also, do not excuse any slack behavior. Tardiness or frequent leaves should not be taken lightly.
Mistake - Setting Uniform, Inflexible Rules
Boss not listening to employee
"What?!! You'll be late because your father lost his way again? I'll consider that a half-day."
If an employee is frequently late or absent, take him/her to task, but first, do understand the reasons behind this issue. Some of them might be suffering from a health condition, or they might have a sick relative at home. Same goes for other aspects of the job too.
While focusing on performance and target, it is easy to forget that you are dealing with people - not processes or software which are programmed to run in a certain way. Understand that every employee is different, and will respond differently to authority or pressure. Rather than take offense, it is best to find a way around.
Mistake - Not Being Clear With Instructions
Confused employee listening to boss
"We need to pick up the pace. We have to finish the project in a few months."
A few months? What exactly do you mean by few - is it two or six? As the planner, you might have a clear, precise idea of what you want. But you also need to convey that to your subordinates. Being too vague can leave them confused and lose trust in you.
Make a clear, concise, and precise guideline. Give the employees fixed goals and targets. Numbers, not approximates. They need to have a proper idea of how their performance will be measured, to stay motivated and work efficiently and smartly.
Mistake - Overestimating Yourself and Your Team
Confident boss with team
"The previous year's growth rate was 7%, and I will take it up to 15%."
New managers are often eager and overenthusiastic. Free from the crutches of their B-school or the restrictions of their previous job, they want to prove a lot. Brimming with new ideas, they just can't wait to implement them and the processes that they learned. They want to bring about a positive change, and fast.
This enthusiasm is very infectious, affecting the entire team, resulting in a boost in productivity and morale. But, unfortunately, it also means that the goals they set are also unrealistically high.
Other employees may take time adjusting to the sudden changes a new manager and his new processes demand. Add to that, they both will need to be perfected and tweaked till you get the expected results. So, set realistic goals, and accept that the new processes might also result in losses.
Mistake - Not Taking Responsibility
Careless boss
"I told Joe to make the changes. It's not my fault that he didn't do it."
As a manager, you are responsible for your team. If any member of your team makes a mistake, doesn't complete a task on time, or even if his/her performance is under par, you will be blamed. To avoid such blunders, you need to regularly check that things are going as they should periodically.
Mistake - Not Making Time for the Boss
"I have more things to do than just chit-chatting with the boss."
Besides being in-charge of making sure things run smoothly, keeping the employees motivated and giving them direction, a manager is also expected to be on friendly terms with his seniors. This doesn't just mean the daily/weekly/fortnightly reporting and meetings, with a casual one-liner thrown in for good measure.
Make an effort to know the ones above you - knowing their aims and objectives regarding the company is important. So is keeping them in the know of things. But, to get a better grip of things, you also need to interact with them and get to know them personally. Set some time aside and do chat him/her up. Although, make sure you don't overdo it.
Mistake - Not Delegating
Boss giving too much of work
"I have to collect the statistics from the sales, finance, and marketing department, and analyze them"
In an attempt to appear efficient, new managers often take up too much on themselves. They try to do as much as they can themselves, in order to minimize errors. But, many of the simple tasks can be delegated, saving a manager's precious time.
A manager's job is to get the job done, and he/she should not do it all himself. Some team members can also take offense, thinking the manager doesn't trust them or doesn't consider them capable enough to handle 'important' stuff.
The solution here is obviously to delegate. But delegating doesn't just mean asking someone to do it, and forget about it. A manager must give crystal-clear instructions, and inspect the output before submitting or approving it.
Mistake - Not Giving Feedback
"Do I really have to go to each and every member and tell them how they performed?"
The answer is yes. In a new job with new responsibilities, and so many activities vying for his/her time, a manager can often overlook this aspect of the job. Some might also think that if a report goes by without any negative comment, it should be presumed that the job is done pretty well.
But as a manager, your job is to mentor your subordinates, and they look up to you to provide feedback, highlighting the good and bad points. Doing so will also build trust within a team, and employees will be more wiling to accept your role as a leader.
Mistake - Taking All the Credit
"If the responsibility for a failure is all mine, than the credit for a successful job should be all mine too."
It does seem a bit unfair for a manager, doesn't it? But, the thing is, you have worked as a team to achieve something, and the entire team must share the credit.
Also keep in mind to mention individuals who have performed exceptionally well, to your superiors. It won't just motivate the team to try harder and better, but will also set you as a fair leader in the eyes of your supervisors.
As a manager, your responsibilities are manifold, and as with any job, mistakes are bound to happen. But the repercussions are huge when a manager does them. And not just for the manager who will face the heat, but the company itself might take a hit.
So, avoid these mistakes as far as you can, and lead a team of efficient, high-performing, motivated employees, to achieve their and the company's goals.