4 Big Missteps to Avoid as a New Manager


As a new manager you have many challenges ahead. Hopefully, you have received effective new manager training for the leadership skills you didn’t need as an individual contributor but need now…skills like knowing how to plan, organize, delegate, prioritize, manage performance, budget resources and time, communicate effectively up and down, make decisions, problem solve, resolve conflicts, and so on. My, but the list is long!

But take heart. If you assume your new supervisory role with the right attitude, your team will get behind and support you.

Show some humility, show that you care, show that you value continuous learning and avoid the following four big new manager missteps:

  1. Quickly dismissing team questions or suggestions for improvement.
    The questions may seem dumb or the suggestions unworkable but give your team members a chance. They may know more than you do about the situation. Welcome questions in the spirit in which they were asked…to get answers and to learn. And take time to consider your team’s suggestions. Really listen to new ideas and don’t reject them simply because it’s “never been done that way before.”

    Instead of thinking “why,” think “why not.” Your job as new manager is to encourage participation and commitment on the team. Grant your team members the space and trust they deserve to share in how the team operates, learns and improves.

  2. Pointing the finger of blame.
    Good managers don’t sidestep responsibility when things go wrong. Your job as a new supervisor is to figure out the cause of the problem and fix it. If you try to pass the buck, you will lose the trust and respect of your team. It is far better to take the high road, acknowledge the problem, and work toward solving it. Own up, apologize and put a recovery plan in place.
  3. Complaining about the incompetence of your team.
    It is your team now. If there are members who are not pulling their weight, you need to find out why. If it is a matter of workers lacking certain skills, either change their task list or provide the targeted training and coaching to teach them what they need to know. If it is a matter of procedures or rules, find a way to change or improve them. If it is a matter of substandard performance plus a lack of motivation, you need to work with the low performers to sort out what is missing. If with support and understanding there is no improvement, then you need to shift them off your team or the entire group will suffer a loss of morale.
  4. Avoiding the “dirty” work when times get tough.
    Every team will at some point be caught in a crunch. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and lend a hand where needed to meet deadlines. When you set the example of putting in extra discretionary effort (an anchor of employee engagement), your team will follow. When they know that you have their back through thick and thin, they will be thankful for your help and repay you with their loyalty.

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