How many times have you looked at your manager and thought
“If I were in their place, I would do things very, very differently”?
If you’re like most people, then the answer is – a lot!
Simon Sinek says that stress and anxiety at work have less to do with the actual work we do and more to do with weak management and leadership. This basically means that it all comes down to the human element, or rather, the human touch – which is especially important in an industry like ours, where most of the work is tech and data oriented.
When it comes to new managers, or people who have moved up from their previous role, for example a software engineer who has been promoted to a manager, where they’re responsible not only for themselves but for an entire team, there are a few areas where mistakes can often occur.
So, what are the most common mistakes new managers make and how can they be avoided?
1. They don’t own their new role
A lot of the time new managers forget that they’re no longer just part of a team, they’re now managing the team, which requires a completely different set of skills. This means that they need to put their manager’s hat on and start looking at things from a different perspective.
By talking to more experienced managers in their company about how they approach their own role and team, they can get some insight and perspective on how to better adapt to their new job.
2. Instead of becoming leaders, they become authoritarians
There is a difference between just being a manager and being a true leader – a manager tells people what to do, but a leader motivates and inspires them to become better at what they do.
A lot of the times new managers (especially ones that are slightly younger) tend to let their newfound “power” go to their head and start handing out orders in a way that imposes their authority on others.
For example, they come into work and instead of talking to their team and using their soft skills to motivate and inspire them, they use only the authority of their title to get people to do what they want.
It’s not just about having the authority to delegate work, it’s about leading by example. In order to be a good manager, you have to be a leader – and you become a leader by caring for other people and uniting them under a common goal that has everyone’s best interest.
3. They refuse to listen to the experts, and they get in their way
Often times people think that just because they’re now managers, they need to know everything, and they need to be the smartest person in the room.
Great managers know that for their project to be successful, they need the right people to do the right things, at the right time.
You don’t need to prove that you’re the smartest, most experienced or fastest person in the room – you just need to make sure you have those people on your team and then get out of their way so that they can do what they do best.
4. They succumb to micromanagement
A lot of the times people think that the responsibilities of being a manager involve overseeing every detail in the project and being intensely involved in every single part of it.
For example, a new and not so experienced manager thinks that nothing will get done unless they’re involved in the entire process – from idea to execution. So, they sit down with every person for every single task, they tell them how to do their work, check in on them constantly, organize unnecessary meetings, etc. This approach will surely lead them to burnout, leaving the team feeling frustrated and incompetent.
The beauty of a management role is that it allows people to focus on the big picture, to strategize and to contribute towards making the changes they want to see on their team. Managers should always have one eye on the future, instead of both on the present.
5. They lose their sense of curiosity and often become completely different people
Rather than taking the knowledge and experience from their previous role and using it to fuel their desire to improve and innovate, new managers often start detaching themselves from their team as they now find themselves in a completely new and unfamiliar position. They stop communicating openly and often lose the ability to give and receive open feedback.
How can this be avoided? By remaining curious, rather than being assumptive.
Instead of guessing or assuming they know why tasks are running late or why employees are doing things a certain way, they need to be curious enough to ask what’s happening,
There are many things that can make a manager either good or bad at their job and they all depend on the circumstances. But at the end of the day, it’s a leader’s job to have the courage and determination to put themselves at risk of facing uncharted waters in order to open up a new path that others can walk on and make things easier for their team, and that is one trait that definitely makes a manager truly great – even if they are new at their job.