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Congratulations, you’ve been promoted. It’s your first job in line management and you’re eager to do a great job.

However, do you have the right leadership skills to enable you to shine in management?

Often, people are promoted into a leadership position because they’ve excelled in their individual contributor role and elevation to management seems like the next logical career step.

However, managing people is a huge responsibility and requires a whole extra set of skills. Even if you’ve already shown many of the personality traits that suggest you’ll make a good manager, you’ll probably need some further skills training or coaching.

New managers tend to make the same few mistakes in their early days. But the good news is, by recognising those errors, you can learn how to spot and overcome them.

Here are our top five rookie mistakes that new managers commonly make.

  1. You don’t understand your own authority.

Many new managers want to ensure that everyone knows they’re in charge from day one. Some believe that an overbearing or even aggressive manner is the best way to show they’re the boss.

This is totally unnecessary. By virtue of the role, a manager has the tools to address and remedy any problem situations that arise – whether that’s providing constructive feedback or holding people to account for performance issues, with real consequences if matters don’t improve.

This should give you the confidence to take a warm, friendly approach without fearing that your authority won’t be respected.

If you don’t understand exactly what actions you’re authorised to take, speak to your own manager and make sure you’re on the same page about your role.

  1. You try to remain ‘one of the gang.’

This is a problem we commonly see when new managers are promoted above people who used to be their peers. They may even have been your friends outside of work.

The hard truth is, if you want to be both a successful and ethical manager, you cannot have close social relationships with your direct reports. This could lead to perceptions of – if not actual instances of – favouritism, bias or unfair access to your time. You will also now have power over certain elements of their working lives that you didn’t have before.

You can and should develop relationships that are friendly, as this is undoubtedly a more pleasant and positive way to work. However, although you’re still part of the team, it’s better to face the fact that the power dynamic between you and your former peers has changed.

  1. You rush into making big changes too soon.

As a fresh pair of management eyes, you may well have some fantastic ideas for improvements. This is often the case when you’ve risen up through the ranks and have first-hand experience of how management decisions affect the troops on the ground.

There are two key things to do before trying to introduce major changes. The first is to speak to your team and listen to their opinions, as they may have even better ideas than you.

The second is to ensure you understand the company leadership’s perspective. Once you reach management level, you may be privy to information you didn’t have before, which could alter your take on the situation.

  1. You avoid difficult conversations.

This is an unavoidable part of any manager’s job. Most of the time, the awkward conservations and unenviable dilemmas will fall into your lap.

Problems could include anything, from the team member with body odour to the project coworkers who just can’t get along. Failing to confront these challenges and hoping that the issues will go away on their own means you’re failing to do your job.

However, you’re not expected to have all the answers to all the problems, all the time. If you’re not sure how to handle a situation, it’s okay to seek advice from someone who has more experience or expertise.

But you must do something and be seen to do it, otherwise you’ll lose credibility. Don’t despair, though – there are great management skills training courses that can equip you to handle even the trickiest situations.

  1. You don’t delegate enough.

As a leader, the buck stops with you when it comes to the success of your team. So, it’s understandable to want to have total oversight and make sure everything meets your high standards.

However, this should not be a case of ‘if you want something done well, do it yourself.’ If you try to maintain an unrealistic workload alongside the new demands of management, you’ll either burn out or miss your targets – or both.

Trust the people around you to do their jobs well and you’ll develop a healthy, confident, highly functional team. If you honestly believe that some employees can’t be trusted to do a good enough job, you now have the standing to address that constructively.

These are all common mistakes that can be avoided when new managers are given the skills and support they need to succeed in their roles.

Are you looking to develop your leadership potential?

Leadership & management is about more than just decision-making. The best business leaders arm themselves with the information they need to make good decisions. Whether it’s meetings, interviews or team dynamics, there’s always something to learn, and somewhere to improve.

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Mark Fryer

4th March 2021

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