Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes As A First-Time Manager

Komal Sharma

Last Updated: February 6, 2024
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The current reality has shown us that we live in times of permanent change and uncertainty. Whoever occupies a managerial position must be prepared to lead his team and achieve the objectives set. Whoever occupies a managerial position today faces a great challenge. Although we are more likely to not make perfect decisions, it is important to avoid practically universal errors.

A new manager being interviewed by a journalist, using a tablet and smartphone.

You may have already read a few books, followed training courses listed in the company catalogue for new managers, and studied some effective communication manuals. You have put into practice the qualities of a good manager. But, between the theory and the real life of managing a team made up of real human beings, and not machines, there is a gap

Indeed, you do not become a manager by studying management, even if it can help. You become a manager through experience. And it’s OK to make mistakes, that’s how you learn. The intention of this article is to save you time by understanding the classic mistakes that a beginner manager makes and what you should avoid. Let’s dive in.

Mistake #1: Wanting To Control Everything

Before being a manager, you might have known a lot about something specific. People could ask you anything, and you always had an answer. You were good at it. Now as a manager faced with all the new tasks that are asked of you, you may have the impression that many things are beyond your control.

To counter this situation, If you’re trying to handle everything in your team, tasks like planning projects, assigning work, and keeping track of progress can pile up, making your workload heavier. And of course, this doesn’t work all the time. Because you can’t control everything. And everything can’t be done your way

manager controlling every employees of the office

The key to overcoming this is developing delegation skills and having faith in your group. To delegate is to have faith in the people around you. Nobody enjoys working for a boss who is constantly on your back and watching everything you do just because you are employed by them. Managers need to strike the correct balance. To achieve this, don’t be afraid to discuss the goals of the service and your vision. You should also encourage questions and challenges from your team so that you can jointly develop the solution. And this already involves changing your perceptions:

  • You are not perfect, and that’s OK
  • There is no single way to do a task and each member of your team has their way of working.

Be careful, stopping controlling everything does not mean letting everything go. This brings us to the second common young manager mistake.

Mistake #2: Resisting Change 

A manager who struggles to adapt might be seen as weak, whereas one who constantly imposes changes may be perceived as overly controlling. Between the two, there is a fair manager. There is a slider to constantly adjust between setting limits and allowing freedom. You will be evaluated by your superiors on your ability to reframe wisely. And that will come with experience

In the meantime, to facilitate relationships with your team, get into the habit of explicitly laying down the rules from the start of your job or a new project. Simply communicate what is forbidden and what is allowed. It’s a way to assert yourself and reassure your team.

Subsequently, if a member of the team transgresses a rule, it will be much easier to correct it because the rule exists and has been stated. Use the simple steps to give feedback. And keep in mind that you won’t be able to please everyone. Cropping never feels good, both for the manager and for the team member who is being cropped

Mistake #3: Getting Overwhelmed

Three business people analyzing documents and discussing business strategies.

The position of a manager is often accompanied by a significant increase in workload. And you are committed to honouring your managerial commitments. You need to prove your worth and show that people are right to trust you. You are then on deck all the time. Ready to give an opinion on a file, to resolve a dispute with a customer, a supplier, or a member of your team. The manager is often seen as the person who has the solution to all problems. And then it’s gratifying that we called on you.

You are then in charge of your new tasks. And you stick out your tongue. The risk is to quickly become disillusioned and regret your previous position, where in the end it was still much quieter, To lift your head from time to time, set limits :

  1. Stop responding to all requests, take the files where you bring added value, and delegate others.
  2. For the management of emails that arrive in a continuous flow, 4 simple rules:
  • Deactivate the notification on the arrival of a new email, 
  • Choose time slots to consult your emails, 
  • Set up automatic sorting rules. For instance, if an email requires less than 2 minutes to answer it, do it right after reading it.
  • Allow yourself time in your schedule where you leave operational matters aside to focus on medium and long-term tasks: vision, strategy, team organisation, etc.

Mistake #4: Not Working On Team Cohesion

By focusing on the operational side of resolving the common problems inherent to your new role as manager, you forget that your team is made up of humans. People need to connect  and feel like they belong to your team.

Neglecting the team cohesion aspect will quickly have unfortunate consequences: demotivation, lack of meaning, unhealthy competition, no communication, etc. As a manager, you are responsible for the cohesion of your team. Here are some elements that strengthen team cohesion:

  • Have regular team meetings
  • Share your vision
  • Explain the rules
  • Ask your team’s expectations and needs
  • Celebrate successes or important events with drinks or outings outside of work
  • Call on a coach to lead a team cohesion seminar

Mistake #5: Staying Informal

When you were a team member, you had an equal relationship with the rest of the team. You were part of the same team, so you shared your feelings, what worked, what didn’t work with your colleagues, etc. You are now a manager and the hierarchical superior of your former colleagues. Not an easy situation to manage

At the coffee machine, you want to continue laughing with them, to continue maintaining an informal bond. There is also the issue of being accepted as a new manager. The mistake would then be to keep the same type of relationship that you had before with your former colleagues.

However, your position as manager imposes a duty of discretion on you. Your word now has more impact because of your position. You’ll have access to information your team won’t need to know. This is why a manager must, for example, avoid criticising his hierarchy in front of his team, otherwise, the team will do the same and you will not be able to say anything.

There will be times when you can continue to mess around at the coffee machine, and others when your position as manager requires you to communicate more formally with your team:

  • Feedback of information from management
  • Change in the team: departure, arrival, schedules, organisation, etc.
  • Annual maintenance
  • Reframing a team member

Mistake #6: Looking Down On Your Team

You understand that your role as manager changes the relationship with your former colleagues. You are now their leader. You put distance, even so much distance that you remind them from time to time that you are the boss now. Bad strategy. This creates resentment among your employees. They find you arrogant and you ultimately come across as a leader with little authority, since you are obliged to point out that you have some rank to be respected.

The solution? Stay humble above all times And work on your posture as a manager, move from the posture of order giver to that of resource manager.

Mistake #7: Taking Everything To Heart

A man standing in front of a desk, hiding his face with his hands in frustration or distress.

The manager is the centre of attention and is exposed to criticism from his team. Reproaches come with the managerial costume. It comes with it! And the higher you go in the hierarchy, the more you are criticised.

Since you can’t please everyone, it will quickly become unbearable for you if you take everything to heart. Get rid of that subliminal message that’s playing over and over in your head “Please yourself”.

You must sort things out. For example, you are free to accept or refuse feedback. Also, don’t make it personal. Managing your emotions is also a key skill as a manager. An effective way to proceed is to be accompanied by a coach.

Mentoria: Navigate Success, Avoid Mistakes, Excel in Your Career

To avoid mistakes when taking on a managerial role, why not train yourself?  learn more about the fundamentals of management, the essential steps for successfully taking up a position, and the solid foundations for the performance of your new team.

Discover your strengths and areas for growth with Mentoria’s career guidance. Whether you’re looking to excel in your current role, explore a new one in your industry, or switch to a completely different field, our counsellors will create a personalised action plan for you. With 3 streams, 850+ courses, and 12,000+ careers, we help you find your perfect fit. Call us to speak with career mentors and kick-start your journey toward a happy and successful future.