Being a manager is incredibly challenging. Being a new manager? Well, it’s a hard, rocky road—and almost everyone stumbles multiple times.
Fortunately, knowing the common tripping points will help you avoid them (or at least not fall so hard). Read on to learn the most frequent mistakes new managers make.
1. Feeling awkward about giving praise
If you feel uncomfortable praising your employees, don’t worry—that’s normal. However, never acknowledging their contributions or skills will quickly lead to burnout and unhappiness.
You should generally strive for a five-to-one ratio of positive versus constructive feedback. In other words, for every one time you tell your report something they should improve or do differently, you should give them five complimentary comments.
Pay attention to how frequently you’re doling out positive feedback. Not meeting the mark? Give yourself a goal that whenever you think, “She did that well,” “He’s shown a lot of progress,” or another mental note along these lines, you relay that thought to the person. In time, giving praise will become natural.
2. Not being honest
It’s tempting to soften the truth to preserve your employees’ feelings. Maybe one of your team members consistently turns in reports with inaccurate calculations. She’s very enthusiastic and you don’t want to hurt her morale, so you struggle to find a nice way to say, “This work is unacceptable.” You end up suggesting she should double-check her analysis before she submits it.
Her error rate only slightly improves. Ultimately, you have to let her go.
It would have been harder in the short term—but much easier over the long run—to simply tell her, “Jane, at the maximum you should only be making one mistake every three reports. It’s important to be error-free because of X, Y, and Z. What’s your current process? Can we brainstorm some solutions for being more accurate?”
Then, if the problem continued, you’d need to be very direct about the implications. For instance, “I’m afraid this continuing issue might jeopardize your position here. The following changes need to occur in (period of time).”
This is actually kinder, as it gives Jane a chance to turn things around. Although this is an extreme example, the principles apply to all significant problems with your employees.
Do you feel compelled to spell out every little detail for your reports? If so, you’re probably micromanaging them. Not only does this behavior tend to seriously irritate people—to the point they may leave your team and even the company—it also robs them of learning and growth opportunities.
In general, try to give employees the “why” behind your requests and let them figure out how the “how.” Maybe you need a new widget on your site; explain what the widget is meant to do, where it will live, and so on, then give them the autonomy to actually build it.
Some reports want more direction than others, so you should tailor your approach to the person. In addition, be clear that you’re always there to serve as a guide and answer their questions. And if it’s crucial a process is followed in a very specific way, you should explain it step-by-step.
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