What’s the worst part of being a brand-new manager? The certain knowledge that, no matter what you do, you’re going to make mistakes. However, if you know which pitfalls generally catch new leaders, you stand a better chance of avoiding them.
Enter a recent thread on Quora, in which managers share their mess-ups from earlier in their careers. The whole thing is worth a look, offering advice from leaders ranging from entrepreneurs to managers at Amazon. However, a few themes seem to come up again and again, regardless of where people work or what rung on the corporate ladder they occupy:
1. Not firing bad employees.
No one wants to ride into town like the new sheriff and start firing everyone in sight — and needless to say, indiscriminate terminations will not improve morale. But several commenters noted that keeping bad apples around will spoil the bunch.
2. Micromanaging good employees.
Whether it’s due to insecurity or a desire to help, new managers often have a habit of inserting themselves into the mundane interactions of their department — and not for the best. It’s good to encourage accountability among your reports, and not so good to insist on witnessing and being involved in every action.
3. Failing to take the temperature of the department before making changes.
Before you can fix what’s broken, you need to understand how it got that way. While not making changes can be deadly, making changes before you really understand what’s going on with your new people is also a mistake.
4. Being dishonorable and/or untrustworthy.
Don’t throw your employees — or your own manager — under the bus. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated, and don’t commit to things you can’t deliver. Being a reliable person and a good manager means doing what you say you’re going to do, and not looking for someone to blame when things go wrong.
5. Doing everything themselves.
As a manager, if you want something done right … you need to support other people in doing things the right way. Whatever you do, don’t do it yourself. You’ll only make more work for yourself in the long run, and you’ll communicate to your people that you don’t trust them, don’t think you’re in control of the situation, and can be persuaded to make work disappear, if only they seem like they can’t make things happen without your help.
Tell Us What You Think
What’s the worst mistake you made as a new manager? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.