Ten common mistakes new managers make by Stephen Walker

Why don’t hospital porters with an excellent track record and ten years experience become orthopedic surgeons?

The answer…..being good at wheeling people to the Operating Theatre is not relevant experience to be a surgeon.

Next question: why don’t brilliant salesmen (or whatever) with an excellent track record and ten years experiences become sales managers?

The answer…..they do become sales managers even though the jobs are very different and require different skills.

The manager is responsible, motivates and delivers the performance of his or her people. The skill of the manager is critical in delivering good performance.

Anyone who has been through this terrible transition, from specialist to manager, without the proper training knows the mistakes.

How many of these mistakes do you recognise?

1.You manage tasks not people

Your job as team manager is to get them to do the work. As soon as you step in to the work yourself because you are better at it then you have failed. This does not mean you shouldn’t pitch in and help when the going is tough. But the emphasis is on helping not doing it alone.

2.You criticise and show disrespect for your people

It is easy to succumb to pressure and stress and blurt something out to relieve your feelings. One of your people may be behaving badly but that doesn’t make them useless, a waste of space or something worse.

3.You show favouritism

You would be amazed at how intensely people listen to what you say. The only thing that is more intense is how closely they watch what you do to see if it equates with what you do. Don’t say persistent lateness will not be tolerated and then be late yourself!

4.You can’t leave your old job behind

Managing people is a whole new world of work. You have a lot to do and it takes a lot of time. Make sure when you move into the new role of Team Leader you leave your previous work behind. You don’t have the time to “just finish off” what you were doing. Delay your new job start if you have to but you need 100% of your time and attention on your management job.

5.You lose your focus

As manager you have a plethora of tasks facing you. Never lose sight of what your team does, why it exisits. Don’t sink beneath a wave of form filling, standard reports and meetings. Don’t be too busy to do your job – no matter how flattering to be asked to contribute papers, join meetings or meet people. You need to manage your time well.

6.You talk more than listen

When you start your new manager’s job, the people who know how to make things better or worse are working for you. How are you going to get them to be better rather than worse? Traditionally new managers adopt an authoritarian tone. This makes people not suggest better ways as you are obviously a clever clogs and don’t want any help! Listen to people actively, try their ideas and give them full credit for it. You can’t here what people are saying if you are talking.

7.You feel insecure and introspective

You will make mistakes. Things will go wrong. As the manager it is your job to avoid this happening. Never let the problems overcome your cheerful out-going nature. Your job is making people work not sulking!

8.You don’t manage your Boss

Your Boss will have expectations of you and your team. You need to manage those expectations and meet them. Failure to manage your Boss means will you trouble when you need to ask for more time, more resources or a pay rise! If you can’t get the extra resources your team needs they will lose faith in you and their performance will suffer. This is a downward spiral.

9.You ignore the people you can’t manage

People like suppliers, your peers in other departments and regulatory officers are not under your control. But they can and will affect your performance. You must influence these people to be a benefit to you not a hindrance.

10.You are at the mercy of events

You need to approach your new management role with a plan. You will be busy, frustrated and suffer feelings of inadequacy. Don’t let these events make you forget your plan in the medium term. You may need to concentrate on something for the good of the team’s standing but don’t forget your plan. Amend your plan as you grow in understanding. But never be so busy working in the team to forget to work on improving the team.

You need some training on the skills needed to manage people because this gives the best chance of success in your new management position.

The next “Secrets of First-Time Management” course is scheduled for June 27th 2011 in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK.

Click here for details of this and subsequent ParadigmShakers Courses.

Further articles can be found on the Motivation Matters website.

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