Magazine excerpt: Warning! New manager at work
Margo Manning outlines some of the most common mistakes by new managers.
The enthusiasm and energy that new managers (typically) demonstrate when first promoted into their role is exciting to be around and observe. There is an impatience to get going, to prove themselves and to prove to their manager that they have chosen the right person for the role.
To prove to the team that they will lead and deliver. To prove to the clients that they will be taking care of them and the service will get better.
What comes with that enthusiasm and energy is often an overzealous approach to either wanting to do everything or micro-managing a responsibility. Both approaches arecommon and lead to mistakes that those who have gone before have made and potentially those following will make.
Some would say it is a rite of passage (those who are saying this have gone through this the hard way) others will say, let’s support them before they make the common mistakes. The following mistakes can be seen repeatedly when young managers (young in experience, not age) are left to get on with it, to find their own feet without guidance and support.
New managers often aim to please everyone When first in a new management role, it can be difficult to say no others or to set realistic expectations.
While it’s important for new managers to understand where they would like to go, it is far more important to deliver in the current role before vying for the next.
Not having a chance to embed into the new role and understand the environmental factors that are working for or against them, let alone not having had the time to process what is going on internally within the team and the clients, can add to the reluctance to say no.
Responding to this in a knee-jerk fashion will place an immense amount of stress not only on themselves, but also on their teams and very likely their manager. The new manager wants to hit the ground running and make the right impression.
Often this leads to disappointment from all involved. This is a hard lesson that often involves an overworked and irate team working long hours with very little return on their investment. Why no ROI? Because the new manager is too inexperienced to recognise all this is going on.
Being able to say no and give alternatives can be a life and career saver. The level of confidence required to deliver this effectively may not come easy at the start of a management career.
Having the time and support to push back and set expectations for all those involved including the team, manager and, of course, both the internal and external clients will give any new manager breathing space to think through the correct path. Managers and leaders can’t be everything to all.
The reality is that many managers and leaders are not much to anyone. The other side of the far reach macro approach is the micro approach in which managers only focus their attention on one area.
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This blinkered approach is when some new managers may consider that breaking down areas of responsibility and conquering single goals before focusing on the next task may be the way forward. Just like the macro approach this has it downfalls. The three principal areas of focus are, team, task (includes client) and self.
When a new manager focuses their attention wholly on the team, their objective is often to win the team over, get them on side and everything else falls into place. They will be showing the team that they have their back covered and hope for the same in return.
Showing the team that they will go down with the ship demonstrates their belief in the team. They are finding out what drives the team, what the individuals want, what their team’s motivations are. During all this, the new manager is looking to gain the trust and respect of their team.
Of course, this all takes time and effort.
While the new manager’s primary focus is on the team, the other areas are being neglected. Deadlines are being missed, clients are unhappy, senior managers are frustrated – the team as a whole are frustrated at their reputation being tarnished. Trust and respect will only come when managers are seen to be delivering in all areas successfully.
Focusing purely on their team will initially garner support, however that will wane quickly as the team’s focus is diverted from their role.
When new managers’ focus is purely on the task, with delivery being the priority over all else, problems occur in the other areas. While the deliverables to the clients are being met, the process in getting there will be fraught.
Again, managers will be applying unreasonable amounts of pressure on the team to deliver and may well be aggressive in their approach. The positive recognition for delivering will be shadowed with the reputation of delivering within an autocratic style. A primary concern for those delivering in this style is alienation of the team.
While the priority must be on delivery, bringing the teamalong must also be a priority.
Receiving a promotion into a management position can greatly boost the ego. When the ego is not kept in check and the new manager’s focus is on self and always looking upwards to the next promotion, the result with be alienation of the team, the manager and, potentially, the client.
Poor team morale and productivity will result in missed deadlines. While it’s important for new managers to understand where they would like to go, it is far more important to deliver in the current role before vying for the next.
Balance is required here.
About the author
Margo Manning is a leadership coach. To find out more, go to margo-manning.com
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