My Mistakes as a New Manager: Part 2

Last week I shared with you my own mistakes and lessons learned as a first-time manager. I lacked the fundamental leadership skills needed to be in a management role, which caused a lot of difficulty for own job, my team, and my organization. We’ve opened this topic to the public to share mistakes they’ve made as a new manager, in order to reflect on how leadership development may have been useful for them.

“My biggest first mistake as manager was to allow a negative person to stay on too long. Firing someone does not feel nice, but in some cases has to be done. To fire your first person is probably the most difficult thing any manager will ever do.” — Insurance CEO

Firing certainly isn’t a fun thing to do as a manager, new or not. But the task can be more difficult for a new manager, who may be learning how to make decisions and have difficult conversations at a professional level. Training and mentor support during this process can enable the situation to go smoother for both the new manager and the colleague involved.

“A big mistake is not carrying a full load. Some new managers when they are promoted think that now that they have ‘made it,’ it is time for them to relax and not work as hard. Nothing is as demoralizing to subordinates as a slacker boss. As a manager you must model behavior that you want your subordinates to have. They will follow your lead. If you slack off, they will too. If you want employees to show up on time, you need to show up on time. If you want employees to work hard, you need to work hard.” — Small company manager

There is a lot to growing a business, so delegation is a skill a new manager absolutely must learn. That includes delegating to themselves. It’s important to carry your share of the load as much as those working under you. This sets expectations for the workplace and can help colleagues to respect a new manager.

“My worst mistake was not giving clear feedback to direct (reports). In my first management role I had a direct that was often late in the mornings, talked constantly, and was regularly late getting work done. Instead of talking to them about my concerns, I assumed that they would work it out for themselves. I sometimes dropped hints or finished their work myself. After many months I finally confronted them in a bad mood. They asked, ‘I didn't know any of this was a problem. I thought we got on well, why didn’t you say anything before?’ At that point I realized I was wrong. How can people get better at their job if nobody tells them what they need to improve on?” — Healthcare Services General Manager

In order to improve someone’s performance, it’s important to give positive and negative feedback on a regular basis. Balancing positive feedback along with the negative can help you avoid making your direct feel like they are consistently doing a poor job. It can be hard sometimes to explain these concerns, but difficult conversations are part of the manager’s job.

How do we prepare new management to make fewer mistakes?

Making mistakes is inevitable as a new manager, but there is training and guidance available to build a foundational set of leadership skills. As a new generation of leaders transitions into management roles, it’s important they have the leadership development opportunities that some of us didn’t have.

Prepare yourself or your first-time managers by downloading “Tips for Getting Started as a New Manager.” This tip sheet is brought to you by Gillespie Nimble’s New Manager Jump Series.