9 Mistakes New Managers Make and How to Fix Them

5 min read
Apr 26, 2017

new-managerBeing a great manager is hard work — particularly when you’re just starting out in your new position of authority.

While it’s perfectly natural to be excited to be managing a new team — and you may have visions of being the best boss the world has ever seen — you will almost certainly make some mistakes during the initial stages of your managerial career.

That being the case, we’ve put together a list of nine of the more common mistakes new managers make — and what you can do to avoid being guilty of them.


Mistake #1: They try to become best friends with their employees

Great managers understand how important talent management is. To help your employees reach their full potential, it is critical that you form relationships with them and support their professional development as much as you can. To this end, it is not uncommon for new managers to act buddy-buddy with everyone on the team. They want to fit in, after all, because you can’t exactly help a worker grow if you’re not comfortable communicating with one another.

Unfortunately, as a manager, you have to realize that you are not your employees’ best friend. You’re their superior. Be nice, cordial, and helpful. But realize that you can’t treat your staff like you treat your old college roommate.


Mistake #2: They believe that they can get people to do whatever they want

New managers often think that their title is powerful enough by itself to get employees to do everything they want them to do. But if you’re just telling your team what to do and you don’t appear to be doing much on your own, it’s unlikely that you will convince your employees to go above and beyond right after you first start.

Great managers lead by example. They work hard and inspire their teams to follow in their footsteps. Great managers also recognize their employees’ contributions regularly.



Mistake #3: They make promises they can’t keep to appease their team

In an effort to be liked by their new employees, many new managers make promises that they are simply unable to keep. For example, a manager might promise that they’ll be able to bend the company policy to allow a certain worker to tackle their job from home a few days a week. But if the organization has a rigid in-the-office work policy, the new manager is not likely to have the pull to accommodate their employee’s preferences.

Instead of promising your team something you may not be able to deliver, be sure to do your due diligence before making any offers. The last thing you want is to offer your employees something only to have to withdraw it later on.


Mistake #4: They get promoted and instantly remake the entire department in their own image

Many new managers believe that their promotions give them carte blanche to reorganize the department they are overseeing in its entirety. But you have to remember that you are managing a team of hard workers — all of whom have developed their own systems and processes.

While you will definitely be able to remake your organization as you see fit over a long period of time, be careful in making a number of major changes on your first day. Failure to heed this advice will almost certainly result in unhappy workers.


Mistake #5: They act as if they are incapable of making mistakes or being wrong

In an effort to prove their worth, lots of new managers hesitate to admit they’re wrong or that their ideas might not be the best ones on the table. Instead, they stick out their chests and act as though they are only capable of doing great work and coming up with transformative ideas.

Every human is imperfect. The sooner you prove to your team that you’re capable of admitting you can make mistakes, the faster they will learn how to trust you.


Mistake #6: They micromanage their employees to an obscene degree

Talent management is important. But it’s critical to differentiate the term “talent management” from the term “micromanagement.” While the former is something that every good manager cares deeply about, the latter is something that will almost certainly draw the ire of your employees. Ask anyone who’s ever worked for a micromanager and they’ll tell you exactly how soul crushing it can be.

While it’s perfectly reasonable to expect your employees to do things certain ways, you can’t tell your employees how to do everything. Remember, your organization hired each worker for a very specific reason. Give your employees the freedom they need to thrive in their roles. 



Mistake #7: They avoid confronting their workers when the situation is uncomfortable

Many managers will tell you that giving negative feedback to their workers is one of the hardest parts of the job. Still, it’s a critical part of the job — one you need to get used to right away if you expect to continue an upward career trajectory.

You need to establish yourself as a manager who confronts employees when the going gets tough. Believe it or not, studies show that employees actually like receiving negative feedback more than they like receiving positive feedback. Confront your workers when the situation is uncomfortable and you’ll earn their respect.


Mistake #8: They never ask their staff for their ideas or opinions

There’s a tendency for many new managers where — in an effort to prove their value — they decide to come up with every single idea on their own. But even if you’re the skipper, you’ll still a part of a team.

One of the easiest ways to increase employee engagement is by regularly asking your employees what they are thinking about certain ideas and initiatives. You can also boost engagement by implementing the best ideas your employees come up with during brainstorming sessions.


Mistake #9: They don’t seek out any support from their own superiors

Just because you’re a manager doesn’t mean you are a flawlessly refined professional.

Even the people on the top of the ladder seek advice every now and again. Do your best to form a mentorship relationship with a more senior-level manager. That way, you not only prove that you care about learning and growing in your own career, but you’ll also develop new skills that should help you become an even stronger leader.



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