3 Management Mistakes to Avoid: A Guide For New Managers
The ascent into management can be an exciting and nerve wracking time. You’ve been given a team of employees to teach, guide, and lead. The problem? While you’ve stepped forward into leadership positions in the past, you’ve had no experience leading 10-18 employees on a daily basis.
Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. The good news is that no one expects new managers to move into their new position without a few errors. The better news? By looking into mistakes that new managers have made in the past, you can transfer into your management position armed with knowledge of at least a few of the potential mistakes. Below are three common management mistakes.
Employee Opinions: “So you’re saying Sally doesn’t get along with anyone?”
A good manager realizes that employees are people. And people are fallible. Some are gossips and others seek advancement through co-worker sabotage. All of them have different worldviews that often collide together to form messy swirls of missed cues, misunderstandings, and negative opinions.
If an employee has a concern about a co-worker, it then becomes the manager’s job to check into their report with an open mind. Don’t make a rash move and fire the individual after grilling them in front of the co-worker that reported them (this happened at my mother’s work).
Instead of going on a rampage, managers should conduct the “investigation” in a level-headed manner. Why? A leader hones their perspective to see a broader picture. They utilize their emotional intelligence to read their employees body language and facial expressions to understand the emotional undertones involved in the situation.
A manager can do this by:
- talking to the supposed “bad egg”
- talk to other employees about the individuals involved .
- look into the cold hard facts that the employees work demonstrates.
Feedback: “You all suck at your job, and we’re watching you.”
Employee feedback and critique is one of the manager’s most important tasks. Feedback allows the management team to locate weak spots in the team dynamic and individual productivity. Feedback like the example demonstrated above is the worst type of feedback. Why?
The first part “you all suck at your job” is unproductive at worst, and demoralizing at best. Rather than focus on individuals tasks that need improvement, it makes it appear as if the employees are bad at their jobs across all aspects of their performance. The second part “we’re watching you” conveys that it is the employees responsibility to improve. And failure to improve may lead to termination of their job. Not a message that a manager should convey in 99.9% of situations.
Steven Sommer, a professor of management at Pepperdine University, suggests that there are three steps to effective feedback. He suggests that managers:
- collect data on the specific issue.
- explain the impact this has had on the work or the team.
- work with the employees to come up with steps to solve the issue.
All of these steps are imperative to effective employee communication. If a manager doesn’t have the time to address every step of the effective feedback formula, they should wait until they have the time.
Tunnel Vision: “They’ve got this…(two weeks later)…guys what happened?”
I had a manager once who had a mild case of tunnel vision. While she skillfully identified who was struggling and excelling on her team, the process in which she handled both groups was ineffective. Here is what this method looked like:
- Identify which members excelled and which struggled.
- Work intensively with the struggling members. The members that excel can manage themselves. Check in for ten minutes once every two or three weeks with the excelling members.
- Send a panicked email or have a panicked conversation with the members in the “exceeds expectation” group when something inevitably goes wrong.
Was the decision to focus on the people that struggled wrong? Should the more skilled people not be given more freedom? No, on both counts. The issue here is in the degree that both circumstances were occurring.
Hand-holding the struggling employees, may never push them to succeed. And ignoring the individuals who excel, might mean that you miss obvious warning signs that the project has hit a road block. Managers will need to discover for themselves how little management their skilled employees need to function.
Leadership and management skills are not an inherent. It will take time to learn how to maneuver through complicated employee relations, giving employee feedback, and managing your employees. Managers are not perfect; they make mistakes. The truly great managers learn from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others. If you tackle your new job with an open mind, your management journey will be smoother.
What is a good manager to you? Share your thoughts and experiences with us below or @mscareergirl.