First time leading a team? Don’t let your excitement trick you into making these new-manager mistakes.
Congratulations! You’ve hit the big time in your career — you’ve landed your first management role.
Regardless of how long you have been working, or in what function, becoming a manager is a completely different experience from anything you’ve done before. And just like doing anything for the first time, there is one guarantee: you will make mistakes.
I’ve worked with and for dozens and dozens of new managers, and I’ve seen them all make the same handful of mistakes over and over again. Don’t be like them — do things differently. You can start by learning about these top five mistakes ever new manager makes, so you know how to avoid them! (Click here to tweet these mistakes.)
1. Not understanding the vision and goals of your new team
Whether you were promoted from within your company or came from the outside, don’t forget to clarify with your manager what is expected of you and your team. All too often, new managers are not provided with guidelines regarding their team’s purpose and value within the company — and they’re too afraid to ask for them.
Just like a GPS app can’t lead you to your destination in the most efficient and effective way if you don’t punch in the proper coordinates, you won’t be able to lead your team to success if you don’t have a solid understanding of what you’re expected to achieve and why it matters.
Find out about those goals up front!
2. Prejudging the skill sets and talents of your team members
When you interviewed for your new position, the hiring manager probably gave you some insight into the skills and talents of the people you’ll be managing. Or maybe you’ve been promoted from within, so you’re already familiar with the individuals on your team.
No matter what you hear — or think you know — don’t pre-judge. Make meeting with each person on your team one of your first priorities. One-on-ones are a great way to uncover people’s strengths, discover what they enjoy doing (and don’t like doing) in their job, and learn how they prefer to operate on a day-to-day basis.
3. Assuming you know what is best for your team
So you know that when you assume, it makes an ass out of “u” and “me,” right? Well, even people who know this often make the mistake of assuming that they know what is best for their new team when they take on a managerial role. After all, the executive team hired and entrusted you with the leadership of the team, not them — right?
Not so fast. Overconfidence like this can lead you into some seriously muddy waters. So before you assume you know what is best for your team, watch and learn for a while. Get a good sense of what the team does and why they function the way they do before you start to make big changes.
4. Rushing in to make your mark on the world
Now that you have entered into the management ranks, you want to show your boss, your peers, your family, and yourself that you deserved this role. But don’t be in such a rush to make your mark.
The thing is, you can’t do it alone. You need your team behind you. Their performance can literally make or break you. So instead of focusing on what you need to do to be successful and look good to the world, shift your efforts to helping your team members excel. When people feel valued, supported, and appreciated, they perform far better—and this is what will ultimately lead to your success.
5. Taking the role for the title and pay when you don’t even like working with people
This may sound ridiculous, but it is 100-percent real. There are millions of people in management roles that are only there for the money and the recognition. Not only are they not invested in their position, they don’t even like working with people. If you find yourself in this position, do yourself and your team a favor: either dig deep and commit to learning to like and lead people, or find a job in a company that will reward you for your individual efforts. Failure to do so is just setting yourself—and your team—up for disaster.
There you have it—the top five mistakes many new managers make. Pat yourself on the back for reading these and doing your best to be different and not make the same mistakes. Best of luck in your new position!
Gina Folk is a dynamic and inspirational leader of people, process, and change, and the author of People Leadership: 30 Strategies to Ensure Your Team’s Success. Find her on LinkedIn.