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Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Sunday, 2 January 2011

10 Worst mistakes made by first time managers

I remember when I got my first time management job; I was so happy that I danced around my lounge with my husband.  I didn’t even mind too much when my dog who wanted to join in the fun, jumped up and bit me on the bottom, tearing my best trousers in the process. 

The euphoria I felt on finding that I had got my first management job, probably lasted into the second week, when I was holding a staff meeting and I suddenly realised the scale of the task in front of me.  I had no previous experience of management, no training and as the post was completely new – no one to ask how to do it.

Of course, I made lots of mistakes,  but I like to think that I made fewer than I might have because I did a lot of listening to other managers, my team and other staff,  and I never stopped listening and learning.

Listed below is a list of the 10 worst mistakes that first time managers make:

1.    Wanting to show who’s boss – As a first time manager it’s normal to want to make it clear that you’re in charge, particularly if there’s some resentment about your appointment. Be clear, fair and firm – but do not be superior or belittle your staff.

2.    Failing to communicate effectively – There are many communication pitfalls for a first time manager but one of the worst ones is not agreeing with your team about how you will communicate and how regularly – e.g. team meetings, emails, phone calls , 1 to 1 meetings

3.    Making change for changes sake – First time managers are often under pressure to make quick changes to working procedures. Try and resist the pressure to act hastily and observe what is currently being done, and make sure you listen to other views.

4.    Failing to listen – By not listening, the first time manager often falls into the trap of introducing a new process or procedure and unwittingly reinventing the wheel. Listen to other people.

5.    Always being the expert- Most first time managers are appointed because they were good at their previous job.  However, you should avoid always being the ‘expert’.  Let other people in your team/area share their knowledge and expertise.

6.    Ignoring different communication and working styles – First time manages need to be aware that some of their staff will have very different communication and working styles. Familiarise yourself with these different styles in order to engage with your staff.  If it works effectively don’t try and change it.

7.    ‘Doing’ the job instead of managing – First time managers can be tempted to almost fall over themselves to be seen doing the job well, which can lead to them ‘doing’ instead of ‘managing’.

8.    Not saying no – It can be very hard to say ‘no’ as a first time manager – particularly if you don’t think you should.  However, it is one of the key skills to adopt when first appointed, as you will need to be able to say no if you are being asked to do too much.

9.    Working too many hours – working late, taking work home and skipping lunch hours are bad habits that first time managers often adopt.  Don’t. There’ll always be more work if you look for it.  You are entitled to a home life and skipping your lunch break is unhealthy.

10.    Not asking for help – As a manager, it is easy to think that you should be able to do everything. If you need help in any area of your work, then don’t be ashamed to ask.


Bob Brotchie said...

Highly relevant and important post, thank you. I remember my early roles and how I naively thought that because I wanted something done, it would get done! I agree with all ten points and would always return to communications that are efficient and effective to engage, help and be helped.