4 Surprising New Manager Myths to Avoid


Spending on new manager training continues to grow because so many new managers are poorly prepared for the realities of their new position. They did not fully appreciate what a big step it can be from individual contributor to management…especially if they were promoted because of their technical expertise in their former job.

Even if they were lucky enough to receive some customized new manager training, the actual challenge of managing others requires a whole new skill set that they have little time to practice before they meet with their team for the first time and make that critical first impression.

Here are some common misunderstandings about the real work of a manager. Too many new managers mistakenly believe that:

1. Now that they are in charge, their direct reports will blindly follow their orders.
Not necessarily so. Employees these days have more power than they used to, and they do not blindly “obey” their boss. Managers need to earn the right to be followed. They need to show that they have more than the title. They need to show that they know how to get things done, that they are competent, and that they deserve respect in a way that aligns with the overall corporate strategy and culture.

2. Managers have significant authority.
Again, not necessarily so. Instead of being freed to make unilateral decisions and lead their team in any direction, new managers often find themselves in a complicated network of politics, obligations and matrixed reporting relationships. Remember, managers have managers; they have direct reports; they are beholden to their peers as well as people outside the organization. They must weigh conflicting demands, negotiate among them and prioritize how and where they and their teams spend their time.

3. If they make friends on the team, team members will be compliant.
To be a successful new manager it is not necessary to develop friendships as much as it is important to develop strong, mutually respectful and trusting working relationships. Instead of forging individual (and sometimes exclusive) friendships, the best managers understand that, to be successful, they need to build a high performing team. By creating a culture of accountability, transparency, interdependence and collaboration, managers can maximize their team’s performance and satisfaction.

4. They must not rock the boat.
No new manager should try to change everything at once unless that was their clear charter on an obviously toxic and sinking ship. Instead, both the rationale and the intended results of proposed changes should be communicated clearly and they should be undertaken at a reasonable pace that makes sense in the current organizational culture. However, a new regime is always an opportunity for improvement. Listen to the suggestions of your team members. Evaluate what you think could be handled more effectively. Challenge the status quo. And do not be afraid to lead when leadership is truly needed to move the team and the business forward.

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