When managers begin their new roles, many beginners fall victim to a number of easily avoided traps that tarnish the relationships they’re trying to build with their new employees. And our own research discovered that managers have the power to make or break employee retention, whether it's on purpose or unknowingly.
So here are the 15 most common mistakes new managers make — and what you can do to avoid them.
1. They focus on the details — all of them
New managers are obviously interested in doing the best job possible. To that end, some are tempted to assume control over every aspect of operations. And nobody likes micromanagers — particularly when they’ve only been part of the team for a few weeks. According to our Employee Retention Report, micromanaged employees are 28% more likely to leave.
Your employees have been busy plugging away long before you first steppet foot in the office. By and large, they’re good at what they do. Respect their abilities, and let them do their thing.
2. They think it’s all about them
When a new manager is hired, the whole team is affected. Workers grew comfortable working in a certain way with certain people, but workflows and routines are forced to change. New managers often make the mistake of thinking that the transitional period is all about them.
So rather than focusing on yourself, try to put yourself in your employees’ shoes.
3. They are overly cautious
Virtually all new managers want to succeed — this is a good thing. But sometimes, they get so caught up in doing well that they’re afraid to take chances because they’re afraid of making mistakes.
Rather than being extremely cautious, understand that you'll fail from time to time. To succeed, you just need to respond well to those failures.
4. They promise things they can’t deliver
It feels nice to be able to tell everyone that they’ll get huge raises and promotions if they continue working hard. In fact, some new managers are so attracted to the feeling that they do it quite often, promising things they can’t deliver.
Be open and honest with your employees. If there’s a chance one management position will open up sometime in the future, for example, tell your employees precisely that.
5. They can’t make any decisions
Many new managers aren’t sure of themselves in their new organizations. They want everything to go perfectly, so it becomes harder and harder for them to make routine decisions.
Instead of overthinking every issue that pops up, trust your gut. Never forget there was a reason you beat out all of the other candidates.
6. They don’t start off on the right foot
Maybe they’re too nice to all their employees, or maybe they’re too mean. Whatever the case may be, many new managers struggle with initiating new relationships with their team members.
Nobody likes a rude, demanding boss. But at the same time, you can’t expect to be chummy with your entire staff. The right balance is somewhere in the middle.
7. They try to do way too much right off the bat
It’s understandable why some new managers come in and start working a mile a minute on day one.
It takes time to get a handle on a new role. Don’t automatically assume you’ve mastered the position on your first day. Take your time to learn the ropes of your new organization.
8. They don’t do enough
Some new managers are so worried about screwing up or annoying their new teams that their employees don’t notice much of a change at all when they start working.
Remember, you were hired for a specific reason: upper management believes in you. You were hired for your unique skill set. Have confidence in your abilities, and be decisive.
9. They focus on immediate results — not the bigger picture
Many new managers yearn for their first huge victory in their new position. So much so, in fact, that they ignore the long term and direct all of their efforts on producing positive results immediately. This kind of approach to management will catch up with you sooner or later. Amazing results right now won’t mean much if your organization is severely struggling nine months down the line.
While you should certainly try to exceed expectations in your new role, don’t compromise your future for victories today.
10. They are reticent in their feedback
It’s difficult for a lot of folks to give honest negative feedback. And for new managers, it can be impossible.
While you certainly don’t want to violently berate your new employees, don’t be scared of pointing out areas that need improvement in a tactful way. Your employees will respect your directness and courage — and they’ll start making changes per your suggestions.
11. They try to be everyone’s best friend
Most everyone wants to be liked by the people in their lives. New managers are no exception. Naturally, new managers don’t want to begin their new jobs only to have their entire team turn against them shortly thereafter. To reduce the likelihood this happens, many of them are overly friendly and overly chipper, trying to be everyone’s best friend.
Don’t do that.
You should definitely try to develop strong relationships with your team. But this isn’t high school anymore. Don’t worry about being the cool kid. Worry about being a great leader.
12. They act like they’re better than everyone else
When new managers land a job that’s highly in demand, odds are they’ll feel at least a little bit arrogant. How else would they beat out, say, five other well-qualified candidates if they weren’t something special?
Unfortunately, some of these folks let their new roles go straight to their heads. These new managers start acting like they own the place the moment they walk through the door for the first time. And no matter what their employees are doing, they’re doing it wrong.
Keep in mind that, though you’re on the top of the totem pole, you’re still a rookie in terms of time served.
13. They don’t ask for help
Some new managers are so sure of themselves that they think they can do everything on their first day.
When you start any new job, you’re not going to know everything there is to know. Rather than guessing, don’t be afraid to ask your team when you’re unsure of something. At the very least, it’ll prove to them that you are a fallible human — which beats working for a robot.
14. They ignore their team’s strengths
It’s easy for a new manager to come in and start attacking their team’s weaknesses. The thought process is simple: in order for things to get better, the team has to get stronger.
But shining a light on weakness can be rather discouraging — particularly when you’ve just landed your new role. So why not start off tapping into your team’s strengths?
15. They are too defensive
Two important things to remember: (1) everyone doesn’t seem everything the same way, and (2) you are not correct all of the time. When team members are skeptical of a plan or an idea, some new managers become incredibly defensive — which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Understand that none of your employees are proactively trying to sabotage your efforts. If they disagree with you, they probably have a pretty good reason.
It takes time to establish yourself in a new role — especially if that role's in management. But continue to improve upon your leadership qualities by taking the reins and avoiding these mistakes.
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