Your company has recognized your stellar performance and promoted you to a manager role. Congratulations! This is a great accomplishment, no question. But it’s also going to be a very humbling experience as you stumble through your first few months. Chances are, you have no prior experience managing a team. Now, your organization might provide you with manager training (and if they don’t, ask), but it still takes time to adjust into the new role. And during that time, you’re probably going to make one of these four very common mistakes.
Doing Your Old Job
The problem with being a superstar in your old role is that you’re going to be tempted to go back to it—either because the new guy isn’t doing as good a job as you used to, or because you find comfort in doing the old task. Or maybe both. But that’s in the past, and every moment you spend doing your old job is one that you’re not spending in adapting to your new one. Learning to be an effective manager is much, much more vital to your team than the work you used to do in your old role.
Acting Like One of the Team
Whatever team dynamic you used to have has now been disrupted by your new position. You can’t be as chummy with your teammates as you used to, especially since you’re supposed to be managing them. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a friendly joke now and then, but you have to hold yourself separate on some level. You certainly can’t let past friendships influence your management decisions. Playing favorites weakens your authority and opens you up to further abuse. It also affects team morale, especially for people who aren’t in your “inner circle” of friends.
Not Seeing the Larger View
One of the risks of coming from the rank-and-file is that you’re not immediately aware of the big picture. I’ve worked with new managers who have no idea of the overall strategy. As a result, deliverables are inconsistent and disjointed, and team members have no idea what the end result is supposed to look like. The project manager is supposed to know, and needs to ensure that their team has the proper context. This results in a unified, consistent final product.
Forgetting to Manage People
Learning how to be a full-time leader is probably the biggest adjustment you’ll have to make by far. It’s more than just handing out tasks and setting deadlines. You have to motivate people, listen to grievances, negotiate conflicts, and soothe egos. But first-time managers often forget that they’re responsible for other people’s welfare now. They don’t realize the impact their actions have on their co-workers and their team. As a result, they head off in their own direction, forgetting to take their team with them. But even if you make every single one of these rookie manager mistakes, they’re still recoverable. The most important thing is to take a positive attitude. Learn from your errors and be open to feedback. Keep that up, and you’ll soon be one of the best managers in your organization!
Image credit, Flickr, hobvias sudoneighm