New to Management? Don’t Make One of These 6 Newbie Mistakes

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

A new role as manager is exciting and challenging, but with power comes responsibility. Avoid these six personas as you rise in the ranks.

So you’re new to management—congratulations! Your new position puts you in a leadership role that many aspire to in their careers.

However, with a great position comes great responsibility, and it’s easy when you first start out to feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to tackle your new role in the best manner.

One of the first things to recognize is that as a new manager, you’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay. No one, including your superiors and your employees, is expecting you to be perfect.

As a leadership article in Forbes points out, this new role isn’t just a shift in pay and title but a huge shift into a position that is going to require an entirely new skill set from you. Those around you feel strongly that even with some mistakes along the way, you have the qualities needed to further develop your skill set and thrive in your new role.

However, there are some common pitfalls that even the best-intentioned new manager is susceptible to making. Take some helpful tips from those who have gone before you and make sure your new role doesn’t cause you to morph into one of these six deadly personas.

Related Article: 5 Signs of a Bad Manager

1. The Enforcer

You may have been under the impression prior to your promotion that being in management meant you’d be wielding power. While you certainly need to set the tone for your team’s accountability and performance, don’t crack down so hard on your staff that they grow to resent you.

As a manager’s guide in the Wall Street Journal cautions, many newbie managers are actually insecure in their roles, and as a side effect, try to enforce absolute compliance to their orders. This can be especially true in the early days of your position where you are trying to show your team that you’re the boss. While it’s certainly important and appropriate for you have expectations for your team, be cautious not to over do it.

As the Wall Street Journal urges, compliance to your mandates is not always the same as commitment to your team. Try to temper your authority with reason, too.

2. The Unprofessional

Stepping into the role of manager can be particularly challenging for you if you’ve been promoted from within. Your coworkers and others might be tempted to see you as their peer and not consider the shift you’ve made to becoming their boss.

It’s fine to retain good relations with your coworkers but being in management you’ll need to be more cautious now about maintaining professionalism. Kevin Eikenberry, co-author of From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership, points out that one of the keys to successfully transitioning is setting the tone and communication with your direct reports so they have a framework for how the new relationship will work.

You also need to be careful about commiseration and gossip. As an employee, you may have been able to join in the water cooler talk or complain about management, but in your new role as manager you’ll need to remain professional and sidestep that sort of behavior.

3. The Buddy

Don’t make the mistake of trying to get everyone to like you on your team. It’s far more important they respect you and trust you then that they personally like you.

Alison Green, founder of the site Ask A Manager emphasizes this point saying that "as the boss, you have to keep a professional distance.” Since you’re now the one who will have to enforce deadlines, potentially convey difficult news or confront other unknown unpleasant circumstances with employees from time to time, it’s important for you to give up the role of buddy and start taking on the mantle of being the boss.

Be nice, be friendly but don’t be their buddy.

Related Article: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Who's On Your Team?

4. The Absentee

You’ve undoubtedly had a boss at some point in your career who seemed to never be around. You felt the work pile up and never seemed to be able to find your boss when you needed support.

When you step into your new role as manager, don’t forget that while your role is definitely to manage, you can still roll up your sleeves and get into the work itself, too. No one likes or respects the manager that’s always off doing something else.

The site Mindtools.com calls this “not walking the walk.” If you’re going to ask your staff to follow policies and be available, then you need to be around, too. The site points out that as the leader you need to be a role model for your team and that goes for everything from coming in on time and staying until the work gets done, to having a positive attitude and supporting the company rules.

Make sure you are doing what you ask your team to do and be available to support them when they need you.  

5. The Credit-Taker

You’re most likely in your new managerial role because you’re a superstar. You’ve caught the eye of the internal powers that be, or recruiters, and wound up in this new, exciting position.

While that’s great, it’s also important when you become a manager to realize that your role has officially changed your status: it’s not about you anymore, it’s about your team. Laura Vanderkam explains this in an article for Fast Company as “keeping the star mindset.

Your job is no longer to be the star but rather to recognize the star qualities in your team and develop the individual talents of your staff. Don’t take credit for their work but rather foster their talent and always vocalize their achievements around your company.

6. The Pushover

Part of your new managerial role requires having difficult conversations and providing timely feedback to your team. It’s natural for you to feel uncomfortable in this aspect of your new role, but it’s vital that you constructively find a way to achieve it or your risk becoming an ineffective pushover manager.

Monster.com reports that new managers are often so nervous about giving criticism or challenging feedback that they are too indirect with their staff. It’s easy to let your desire to be nice trump your obligations as their superior, but you need to learn boundaries and effective communication to have lasting success in your role.

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