Getting a big promotion can be exciting, but it can also be a little scary when you think about all of the new responsibilities you will have. First-time managers can struggle with a lot of things — communication, delegating, and setting a vision and goals for their team. But, with a little bit of planning and reflection, you can be incredibly successful in your first leadership position at your company. Let’s take a look at some mistakes first-time managers often make (and how you can avoid making them yourself):
Don’t prioritize gaining the trust of their new team
You’ve just been promoted and are excited to meet your new team. It might be easy to jump in and get to work, but take a step back and think about the best way to build trust among your direct reports. Team members might be resentful of you coming on board to lead the team — especially if they were interested in the managerial position. Make building trust and getting to know your team your first priority.
How to avoid this mistake: Do your homework! Make sure you know your team members before your first day on the job.
- What are their roles?
- What are their strengths?
- What are their names?
Coming into the job with previous knowledge of your team will no doubt impress them on your first day. Try planning a fun activity when you first meet — maybe a team lunch! Give your team members the chance to get to know you. This will help them know that you are interested in them as individuals and show them you care about their contributions.
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Try to change too much, too fast
Even if you have a lot of great ideas, it can be harmful to try to implement them all at once. Your team is probably used to certain processes and goals that have been in place for months or maybe even years. It can be overwhelming for them to undergo so much change so quickly. It can also lead to resentment or tension on the team.
How to avoid this mistake: If you’re looking to change a lot, try to prioritize one or two changes. Before introducing the ideas to the team, come prepared with strong reasoning of why you want to make that change. Avoid explanations like, “This is the way I have always done it.” The team will surely be upset and be able to respond, “Well, this is how we have always done it.” Be able to explain how your proposed changes improve processes, communication, or overall efficiency.
Attempt to micromanage and not delegate
No one likes to feel as if their manager is always looking over their shoulder. Demonstrate that you trust your employees by delegating important responsibilities to them and trusting them to complete their work. Your employees will certainly thank you and feel relieved you’re not always on top of them.
How to avoid this mistake: Set expectations and goals at the beginning of a project with your team members. If you agree with the timeline and work to be done right away, you won’t have to constantly be checking in. Weekly check-ins with projects will keep your team members on-task and hitting deadlines while giving them the freedom to organize their own work.
Afraid to admit mistakes or failures
As a first-time manager, you might be nervous or insecure about your abilities to lead a team. It’s important to have confidence in yourself, but don’t mistake this confidence for having to act like a “know-it-all.” It’s important for your team to see you as a human and feel like you are being honest and transparent. Your ability to communicate authentically will help your team understand you better as a leader.
How to avoid this mistake: At team meetings, be honest about the performance of yourself as a leader and the team. When you are able to talk about your own mistakes, your employees will feel empowered to talk about theirs. Building an environment where mistakes aren’t feared is important when building a strong and creative team culture.