5 Common mistakes for First Time Managers

It’s daunting, it’s exciting, it’s new…a promotion to a management position is what many of us dream of. We work hard and we are rewarded. Rewarded with extra responsibility, often a new title and an increase in salary. But there are a number of common mistakes that many first time managers make. Here we look at 5 different areas to watch out for and give some hints and tips on what to look out for.

Setting boundaries when it comes to friends and colleagues

For many first time managers this is often the most difficult area to look out for. One minute “we are all equals” and colleagues, who are often also friends, may not react as you had hoped to your new promotion. It is important to set clear boundaries and make sure you maintain professionalism.

  • Try to separate the two, keep work at work and outside matters away from the work environment
  • Treat everyone equally
  • Focus on your objectives and your career, not friendships
  • Act in professional manner and make the tough calls where you need to

Feeling like you still must do everything yourself

Often we’re so used to doing our old role that a promotion can just lead to a feeling of more work as we don’t let go of anything. The key to being a successful manager is to support and develop those around you so you can relinquish some of your work and trust in others to maintain a high standard. Leadership training is essential to helping you achieve this.

  • Don’t be afraid to let go, you can’t do it all
  • Give clear instructions and carefully detail the desired outcome
  • Offer support to colleagues so they know you are there if they encounter problems
  • Offer constructive feedback to aid the improvement of processes

Not making decisions

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, a luxury that often allows us to reflect and grow as a manager. How could I have approached that differently? What would I change if I face that situation again? But in the moment we have to make a call and stick to our guns. Right or wrong a Manager will need to make a decision and go with it. Not making decisions will only lead to greater problems and a loss of faith from those around you.

  • Don’t overthink things, weigh up the situation and take decisive action
  • Asking for professional opinions or input should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but often the most sensible course of action
  • Avoid confusion by putting decisions in writing where appropriate
  • You won’t get it right all the time, but reflect on each decision and learn from them

Expecting instant change

A desire to make improvements and instigate change is an important part of being a manager. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect overnight change. You need to take time to understand the dynamic of your team, set realistic goals and be clear on the likely timescale. Without everyone’s buy-in change is certainly more challenging and often will take time. Focus on small changes and improvements that feed in to a wider goal and be realistic in your expectations.

  • Communicate your ideas clearly and concisely
  • Explain “the why” and try and get everyone on board
  • Set out a clear plan with milestones and timescales
  • Be realistic in your expectations and be prepared to alter your approach if things don’t go to plan

Not listening

5 minutes ago you were reporting into your manager, often frustrated that they weren’t really listening. Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s important you make time to listen to those around you, especially anyone you are line managing. Effective communication is key to success in business and listening to the needs and concerns of colleagues will not only foster good 2-way communication, but also earn you their respect as a manager who has the time to listen.

  • Make time to listen to team members and actively encourage them to speak to you
  • Little and often is far more effective than leaving conversations for weeks or months at a time
  • Use the 80/20 rule, but keep conversations on track and not talking for the sake of talking
  • Do not be afraid to take things further up the chain, perhaps issues have arisen as a result of Senior managers not listening and the onus is on you to get your point across.

Great managers brush up on their leadership training on a regular basis. If you’re looking to refine some of your leadership skills we have a range of online management courses available.

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