Making the transition from employee to supervisor can present challenges, as well as opportunities. New managers need to make a calculated effort to build a productive relationship with their team members. They also need to do their homework: By knowing the common mistakes new managers make, it’s possible to avoid repeating them.
Another critical objective from the outset should be for new managers to move beyond the expectation of feeling powerful. This misplaced assumption can lead managers to make mistakes in their new role. In reality, new managers initially may be likely to feel more constrained by the shift in workplace dynamics, or organizational behavior. By casting off expectations of authority in favor of learning to navigate those dynamics, new managers can develop effective relationships with employees and peers.
Building a productive team means investing the time to get to know individual employees and the workplace culture. Even if a new manager has been with the organization in another capacity for some time, the shift from peer to supervisor requires a different level of understanding.
As a peer, you may know some of your co-workers’ hobbies. As their supervisor, however, you should know what motivates them on the job, as well as the type of support they need. As an employee, you were responsible for your own work. As a manager, you are now responsible for the work of many – each of whom may have differing styles of communication, decision making and job performance.
New managers can benefit from meeting with employees to discuss their work and seek their views of the department’s strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, understanding employees’ work methods and what motivates them is a vital component in avoiding two common managerial mistakes: micromanagement and failure to delegate.
Sending a Signal of Trust
Some managers may avoid delegating because they believe no one else is capable of completing key tasks. This can quickly lead to work piling up, leaving a new manager feeling overwhelmed. It may also signal to employees that they are not trusted to do things well, which will not promote a productive workplace climate.
Spreading tasks among team members allows employees to develop their skills and knowledge, while permitting managers to focus on the broader issues required of their leadership role.
New managers may also have a tendency to try to control their team’s output by dictating specific orders at the expense of nurturing a sense of common commitment. Although such micromanagement may result in compliance, it can do so at the cost of employee initiative, leaving an inexperienced supervisor with a team that performs its assigned tasks but nothing more.
Effective leaders help employees learn to work independently by giving them meaningful responsibilities.
In many cases, new managers previously were high-performing employees, which led to their promotion. However, those star qualities don’t necessarily translate to leadership skills. New managers can avoid some of the potential pitfalls of their role by ensuring they have a support system in place from upper management and the organization’s HR department as they navigate the transition.
If necessary, they should also be ready and willing to ask for coaching and mentoring, as well as professional training through executive leadership programs.