If you just started hiring a team – congratulations! Along with being an entrepreneur positioning her business for growth – you’re also a new manager. And there is a lot for a new manager to get their arms around. So to make things easier, let’s talk about 5 really common mistakes new managers make and how to avoid them.
I just can’t say it enough – the job of a manager isn’t to do the job, it’s to lead and motivate others to do the job. If you’re a new manager, you’re probably saying goodbye to your old job – the ‘doer’. Your old job was to do the tasks, you new job is to lead and motivate others – that’s a completely different job. And it takes a completely different skill set. And that can be scary – because you’ve never done it before, or you’re not sure you can do it, or you have no idea where to start.
And when we have a bit of fear, we tend to do things that make us feel comfortable, we revert to the familiar. That’s when we run into these 5 common mistakes that new managers make.
Mistakes like micromanaging. This is a trust problem. You aren’t trusting that your team can get the job done – and you don’t trust that you can lead them to a successful outcome. So you look over their shoulder at every turn, watch every decision they make, review every document, require your approval for every step. But in your need to control each part of the process, you’re cancelling out motivation and creativity. And you’re making sure you’ll get just enough productivity to get the job done – but you’ll never get the level of excellence that’s possible if you just get out of their way. Let them do their job. And if something does go wrong, work with them to fix it. That’s how your team will learn and develop, by solving problems when they arise.
Now that doesn’t mean leaving them out on a limb all by themselves. Which brings me to the next common mistake – not setting clear goals and expectations. If you aren’t clear about where you want the team to go – you’ll never get anywhere. As a leader, you have to be clear on the destination, and your expectations of each member of the team. If you’re looking at a project, have a clear vision of what the end product will look like, and the steps you need to take to get there. Then factor in the skills you have on the team and make assignments accordingly. And that doesn’t always mean giving the same type of work to the same person over and over. Push your team out of their comfort zones, you might find hidden talent. At the very least, you’ll make each team member a more well-rounded contributor.
“…in your need to control each part of the process, you’re cancelling out motivation and creativity”
But, having a clear set of goals and expectations doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take the time and effort to fully communicate. Truth be told – I would guess that upwards of 75% of the job as a manager is centered in communication – so get good at it, you’ll need this skill a lot!
Good communication isn’t just about telling someone what you want them to know, it’s also about delivering the message in a way they can understand, and making sure they do. Another critical part of communication – that most people ignore – is listening. You get valuable information that you need, by just listening. It’ll help you figure out how to communicate, motivate and realign your team member when necessary. And it builds trust.
Now your team member knows they aren’t just a number, they’re being heard, they matter. Yep, good communication is a critical part of leading and motivating.
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Delegation. That’s the 4th mistake – failing to properly delegate. Oh, you might think that you aren’t delegating because it’s easier and faster to just do it yourself, and you can be sure of the outcome. But I bet the real reason is when you do it yourself, you’re probably doing your old job – using your old skills – it’s comfortable! A lot more comfortable than having to stretch those new skills of leading, motivating and communicating.. But this is really unfair to the team, the company and you. It burns you out (because you have other things to do, and they didn’t just go away), someone on the team could probably do a better job (because it IS their job), and you’re stealing their opportunity to develop. And I won’t even get into the fact, that this is actually why you hired a team in the first place.
Besides, you need to focus on the 5th mistake, which is failing to develop as a leader. Like I said before, you have a new job and it takes new muscles. You can’t expect that expertise to come out of nowhere, overnight. You have to grow these new skills. Take every opportunity to develop, read books, listen to podcasts, take seminars, take courses, get your own mentor – there are countless ways to grow your leadership skills.
Just keep an eye out for the 5 common mistakes. You’re going to be great at this – and you’re going to grow every day.