Nobody is born a know-all, and managers are no different. Mistakes happen at all levels of experience, but they most often happen with rookie managers (hopefully!). But making mistakes is all part of a learning experience. That is, as long as you take away a lesson or two from your mistake, you're one step ahead of the game. Below are some of the most common mistakes inexperienced managers make, and what to look out for.
1. They want to be liked more than respected
Of course, everyone wants to be liked. But since you’re the leader of the team you also need to be able to make unpopular decisions and to deliver them to your team. The fear that you won’t be liked will make it less likely for you to do so. That’s why most inexperienced managers either don’t know how to deliver the hard news to their team, or don’t make the hard decisions in the first place, afraid of how their team might perceive them.
2. They micromanage
As a manager, it’s easy to get drawn into perfectionism. You don’t want anything to go wrong. You want to make sure everything is perfect, because it will be a reflection on you if your team is any less than perfect.
Chances are, if a manager is constantly bombarding team members with emails or dropping by to see how the work is going, he is suffocating his team members. Micromanaging disempowers team members, and even affects their confidence and performance, as it shows that you don’t trust them. While you should always expect the best work from your team, micromanaging is not the best way to achieve that.
3. They don’t delegate
Delegating works both ways: you’re taking some tasks off your plate just as much as you are empowering team members and showing them that you trust them. Not only does delegating give you time to focus on your most important tasks, but it also gives your team members the opportunity to grow, as it allows them to gain new experience and develop their skills. It’s a win-win situation!
4. They don’t invest in employee development
Whether it’s improving poor performers or assisting strong performers with career development, employee development is vital to employee satisfaction - and to the well-being of your business. Your business can’t grow if its people are stagnating. Evaluate what skills you need on your team, then see how you can enable the right team members to get those skills.
5. They don’t read body language
The ability to read body language is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Good managers are able to understand how a team member is feeling and what they may be thinking, even when things are not spelled out. Of course, people will probably always hide some things from their managers. Developing this skill early can help managers prevent things like employee dissatisfaction that seems to come out of nowhere and avoid potential conflicts before they escalate.
6. They don’t adjust their management style
Good managers know when they can be more hands-off and when they need to harden their grip. Different team members need different management styles, and your ability to provide that depends on how well you can adapt your style to different personalities.
Of course, you’re not a chameleon and you can’t be the perfect manager for everyone. Neither should you try to be pleasing each and every colleague. But you do need is an understanding of how different individuals like to be approached, and what they respond best to.
7. They don’t give credit where credit is due
It’s human nature to complain when something goes wrong, but to forget to praise all the good work. Pretty much everybody has had a manager like that at some point in their life, and you know it’s not fun. Team members need to feel their work is appreciated, and you really don’t need too much to show them that.
Alternatively, inexperienced managers put the blame on individual team members. “Bobby wasn’t able to finish the project in time", "Mary wasn't in the office when she was supposed to," etc. But since managers are the ones with the oversight, they are responsible for it. Don’t fall into the trap of placing the blame on your team members. Instead, see where you can make changes to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Do you have any tales of the kind of mistakes inexperienced managers make? Share them with us and other readers in the comments below!