Just like a bad Yelp review, most employees can recall a boss (or two) that they would give a low management rating. Maybe it was the boss who did not respect their time outside of the office or the one who asked for results with an unreasonably short deadline. Or maybe it was the supervisor who didn’t take the time to get to know their new direct report. Regardless of the reason, even the best supervisors will make mistakes or decisions that their employees don’t support. Managers are human too!
The leap from individual contributor to manager is a big one and deserves thoughtful preparation. New managers want to avoid these common manager faux pas when taking the leap to leadership.
1) Not acknowledging a change in relationship with peers. Let us first acknowledge that being promoted to manage a team of your peers is tough, to begin with. One day, you are making plans for after-work happy hour, and the next day you are giving feedback on their performance. It is incredibly important to discuss this relationship change with each member of your new team. Tell them what may be different now that you are their manager. i.e., you may need to limit your lunch dates with your “bestie” to avoid complaints of favoritism. Open the floor to their concern
s or questions as well; avoiding this topic may lead to resentment.
2) Focusing on “doing” instead of leading. Some employees moving into management can’t seem to keep their hands out of the day-to-day. Instead of providing guidance or removing obstacles from the path of their team, they micromanage or take parts of the work back to complete. Often, they fall back into execution because it is what they did best in their prior role. In some cases, a star salesperson or excellent analyst may find in due time that they prefer being in the independent contributor role to managing. PS This is okay! It is good to know yourself and your preferences.
3) Making drastic changes early in the transition. A big management blunder occurs when a leader comes into a new role and immediately trashes existing ideas, processes, and roadmaps with the intent of starting from scratch. It is key to observe and listen to feedback from those around you prior to making changes. There is a story behind every decision, and what at first glance may look like a poor solution, may in fact make a lot of sense when you ask those around you and investigate further. This is a hard one as new managers may feel the need to prove their competency early on. Hold back! This restraint is a sign of your maturity as a leader.
New supervisors can avoid common gaffes if they avoid the rookie mistakes above. Managing other people is hard; do not let anyone tell you otherwise! It is important for managers to build trust by showing vulnerability with a new team. A manager willing to admit they make mistakes and don’t know everything will encourage strong relationships with their employees.
Goldfarb, A. (February 7, 2019). What I Wish I’d Known as a First-Time Manager. Medium. https://medium.com/s/office-politics/what-i-wish-id-known-as-a-first-time-manager-a864a079a982
Larssen, A.G. (n.d.) You’re the Boss—Now What? 7 To-Dos as a First-Time Manager. The Muse. https://www.themuse.com/advice/youre-the-bossnow-what-7-todos-as-a-firsttime-manager