The 4 Most Common New Manager Mistakes

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While the transition to a management position is exciting, it also isn't easy. Whether it is you or a colleague that is taking on this new opportunity, a leadership role puts one in charge of organizational aspects that present new challenges. Avoiding these 4 common new manager mistakes will help new managers successfully transition their relationships, skillset, and role within an organization.

1. They don’t prioritize employee engagement.

Being an effective leader means doing much more than just assigning work to individuals. New or inexperienced supervisors may become overwhelmed with the details of managerial work and forget to look at the “big picture” that includes employee engagement.

According to Dave Topor, ERC’s Custom Research Manager, employee engagement is “a special blend of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job involvement, organizational citizenship behavior, and empowerment."

It is also one of the key factors in attracting and retaining top talent.  What might be worse than not actively engaging employees? Disengaging them. (Interested in gauging the engagement levels in your organization? Reach out to us!)

2. They stand in their own way of providing feedback

“Do they respect me enough to accept my feedback?”
“How much feedback do I give?”
“What if I hurt their feelings?”

This is a taste of what new supervisors might be thinking as they attempt to give their team some insights regarding performance. If the goal of management is to harness a team’s skillset in the hopes that it will lead to continuous great work, feedback is key.

But giving feedback just to say something is not the best strategy. Feedback should be timely, specific, and useful. Employees need in-the-moment insights regarding what to change about their performance. If they are not aware, they cannot intentionally address the issue.

By the way, an annual performance review does not count as timely feedback.

Once managers identify areas for improvement, there exists a perfect opportunity for follow-up. It is important for leaders to understand that giving feedback should become habitual. And if continuous practice still doesn’t ease the discomfort of telling employees how they’re really doing, it might be time to attend supervisory training.

3. They don’t communicate their expectations clearly, and fail to include their team in the goal-setting process

Research shows that specific and challenging goals lead to better performance (Richman-Hirsch, 2001). Individuals also have to accept the goals, or claim them as their own, in order to prompt action. When employees feel a sense of involvement in the goal-setting process, these objectives are more likely to become personally valued.

Similarly, although it’s important to set high expectations, goals still need to be reachable. Without input from employees regarding whether or not they feel capable of attaining such goals, managers might be setting their employees up for failure.

Including employees in the decision-making process may increase motivation to perform because these goals directly impact their day-to-day work lives.

4. They struggle with supervising former peers

A commonly-cited issue by participants in new supervisor training is the transition from being one’s peer to being one’s boss. It is often an awkward experience, as both new supervisors and fellow employees have to adjust to the new role.

The balancing act between being friendly and being assertive is by no means easy. Understanding that peers are also experiencing change can facilitate the new supervisor-employee relationship building process.

One suggestion is to create a sense of team-ness early on by meeting with former peers and asking for their expertise in solving problems. The emphasis on working as a cohesive unit with common goals (as opposed to employees working for one authoritative individual) is an important one to communicate. 

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