Some Tips on Avoiding the Pitfalls for New Managers

By Jennifer Mears

If you have just gained promotion to your first management position then you will almost certainly have to examine things in a new light. If you are tasked with managing a team you used to be part of, the difficulties increase significantly. Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for and some tips for dealing with them.

  • Avoid Rocking the Boat
    Well, at least to start off with. Many new managers feel they have to reinvent the wheel and make sweeping changes to stamp their mark and prove they are up to the position. However, until you had suitable time to assess the current systems and resources wholesale changes might not be such a good idea and just cause confusion and resentment. Take 30 – 90 days to evaluate your colleagues, suppliers, customers, etc, etc before making changes that you can effectively monitor and control.


  • Don’t Spurn Advice
    If you have been promoted from within, chances are you excelled in your last role and did not often require the advice of others. Now you may find yourself in a more challenging role so seek out a mentor or coach who could help you. Take time to learn from the mistakes of others so you can try and avoid them yourself and increase the likelihood of success.


  • Understand the Limits of your Control
    You will quickly find that a dictatorial approach might not be the best way of leading a successful team. It’s quite possible that many things are outside your scope of control. It’s important to learn what these things are and worry about those things than you can directly control and influence instead.


  • Allow for Mistakes
    Try to avoid the tendency for new managers to micro-manage their staff. It’s much better to lay-out clearly defined and achievable goals for your team and assess them on their results and not their processes. If you are too hard on their mistakes it could stifle their creativity or they might try to avoid involving you with their work for as long as possible.


  • Always Listen
    Some new managers believe they know best and to be seen consulting their staff will make them seem weak. Whilst it’s true that managers unable to make quick decisions lose respect; managers who ignore good council and make dramatic u-turns once a decision goes awry could (over time) lose their job. Where time allows (and for decisions that are not straight-forward) involve your team and benefit from their collected resource. This also has the added bonus of getting them on-side if the decision affects the team as a whole.


  • Avoid being Buddies
    It is challenging (even for experienced managers) to be managing a team of your former peers. Trying to stay “One of the guys” will no doubt draw accusations of favoritism and undoubtedly lead to conflict in the workplace. It is now vital that you develop an objective view of your team and its members so you can effectively manage and evaluate its performance. This will be difficult; former teammates may view you as a “Sell-out” but as important as a shift in your mindset is – so is a corresponding shift in theirs. As long as you take charge respectively and decisively they will soon identify with you as the leader of the group.

Categories: Managing & Leading

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