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Five Mistakes New Managers Make

Management is both art and science. Unfortunately, many managers focus on their own personality and way of managing (that’s the art) or they believe they can simply employ the latest management theory and be successful (that’s the science). The truth is a combination of the two is necessary, although it’s rarely a 50/50 split and the person being managed can have a great influence.

Unfortunately, many new managers are not trained to manage people, for the most part they assume leadership roles as result of being excellent task masters in their own right, or they stick around longer than anyone else and have enough institutional memory to project as management “know how”. When situations like this put a new person in a leadership role one of the following is likely to happen:

  1. They Break All the Rules - There may have been a management structure in place that was organized, however, the new manager lays waste to it in order to put their stamp on the department or organization. Little consideration is given to the merits of the existing structure or whether the staff benefitted from or needs it. Even worse, the deconstruction of the existing system is usually absent the thoughtful attempt to create a new one. This often creates confusion that can stifle productivity.

  2. They Are Overly Rigid - In order to protect themselves and their new found “territory” new managers may start enforcing ALL the rules of the organization, which is bound to offend seasoned professionals and newer employees trying to develop a sense of professional independence. It’s not that rules are not important, but there is often a space between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the rule”. Suddenly rules around timeliness, dress code, and even lunch times become the critical focus of one-on-one and team meetings. When this happens staff can feel micro-managed and treated like children.

  3. They Manage People The Way They Would Like To Be Managed - This is a common mistake. Sometimes new managers assume that the management they did or didn’t get was a main ingredient in their success formula. If that’s true and it worked for them, great, however, that rarely means that it will work for the rest of their direct reports. When this strategy is employed, those that truly do prefer that management style thrive while those that don’t grow increasingly frustrated and disinterested.

  4. They Don’t Manage At All - Since many new managers reach that level by getting the work done, this becomes their default to delegating work to others (which is a crucial step to sound management). As a result, they rely on themselves to do more work then they can and leave the people reporting to them out of the loop. It’s not that anything malicious is intended; it’s just that many new managers can be so uncomfortable with delegation that they would prefer to do it themselves. Unfortunately, that’s not a formula for long-term success and it invariably robs direct reports of professional experiences that can aid in their growth and development.

  5. They Don’t Continue Their Own Professional Development - Sometimes it’s a feeling of having “made it” and other times it can be a matter of sincerely not knowing what comes next but many new mangers stop focusing on their own growth when they arrive at the corner office. As a result their toolbox of management tools doesn’t grow and when a management situation that they haven’t dealt with arises (and it always does) they are left without tools they can use. Additionally, new managers sometimes forget that “everyone needs management” and don’t rely on or ask for support from their manager.

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