You’ve spotted leadership potential, extended a promotion to your chosen individual and they’ve become a manager.
Unfortunately, the work doesn’t end with their promotion; in fact, now the hard work really begins as you embark on a journey to develop them as a manager.
There are so many opportunities for mistakes as the new manager grapples with the new challenge of being responsible for the work of others.
To save your new manager from the most common pitfalls, we share some insight into the 10 most common mistakes made by new managers, and how you can help to avoid them.
No. 1: I need to know it all, and I need to know it now
Their expertise might have earnt your employee the right to move into a management role, but one of the first mistakes new managers make is thinking that they need to know everything – right now.
Encourage your new manager to focus their time on helping create other experts; their job is to support the work of others and support their development.
No. 2: I need to show everyone I’m in charge
Those new to positions of power often feel compelled to make certain everyone knows they have power. Let them know that their new team knows they are the boss and are looking for guidance and direction, not assertion of authority. Coach them to resist the temptation to announce, “I am in charge,” and instead, focus on earning the trust of their new team members.
No. 3: I need to change everything by tomorrow
Gently remind your new manager that their new team members were part of creating past processes so to trying to change everything overnight will only result in bad feeling. Coach your new manager to engage their new team in identifying where they want to makes changes that will help them do an efficient job.
No. 4: I’ve developed a fear of making changes
At the other end of the scale to the manager that wants to change it all is the new manager afraid to change anything. You’ll recognise them easily; they are the ones walking on eggshells around their new team.
This needs careful coaching, which can be done by making your new manager accountable for the team’s decisions. Encourage your new manager to engage the whole team to recommend areas of improvement.
No. 5: I haven’t got time to get to know my new team members
Coach your new manager to develop trust with their team quickly by paying attention to them as individuals. Encourage them to sit down with each team member and ask them for their ideas. When it’s appropriate, discuss their career aspirations and work a plan together to define a longer-term development plan.
If your new manager was one of the team before their promotion, they might not see the value to have these discovery sessions. They might have known them as a peer previously, but it’s important not to assume they know their career aspirations, so ensure they are investing time in these initial discussions and get them to know their team members from a new perspective.
No. 6: I don’t need to involve my boss anymore
You still need to encourage your new manager to involve you as their manager. They might think you don’t want to be bothered with the daily issues. In reality, they need you more than ever now for guidance and support in their new role as a manager.
Discuss what the right level of contact is between you. Do they need daily contact with you, or would you rather be on hand when they need help?
No. 7: I secretly avoid dealing with problem employees
New managers will almost always run from the challenging people on their teams. It’s not surprising though as in many cases, they have not been trained in giving constructive feedback.
Coach your new manager on how to have challenging conversations with their team members. Explain that ignoring issues will damage their credibility and encourage them to deal with problems in a timely, professional manner.
No. 8: I don’t want anyone to see that I’m human
New managers have a tendency to think that any sign of weakness will undermine their authority. In fact, the opposite is true; your new manager will gain much more support by showing they are authentic and can make mistakes themselves. If they make a mistake, get them to admit it to the team and use it as a teaching moment.
No. 9 I can be a manager and a friend, can’t I?
This is such a frequent mistake new managers make. It’s hard when one employee is promoted over their peers so they try to be friends with their employees. Coach them that they are in a position of authority and being friends with one employee and not another creates perceptions of bias and favouritism. You can be friends outside of the office, but while in the office, keep the interaction professional.
No. 10 “What do you think?”
Remember earlier we said that new managers feel the need to know everything? They don’t, and by asking their employee ‘what do you think?’ is the ultimate display of respect and empowers new team members to put their thoughts to their new manager.
Most new managers step into one or more of the mistakes above, but by knowing the most common pitfalls, you can help support new managers to become great leaders.