3 Best Ways to Avoid Rookie Manager Mistakes

This week’s blog concludes a 3-week series for New Managers.

It is designed to help entrepreneurs or freshly promoted new managers who need to start building and managing a team from scratch. In less than 10 mins, this read will save you from making some rookie mistakes and show you alternative ways.

As a reminder in the past couple of weeks we covered the following topics:

Week 1. You already have some leadership experience, and by moving to a new role in a different department or company, you start leading an existing team. Click here for more.

Week 2. You are a Star A-player in your team and get promoted to a leadership position within it. Click here for more.

“Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people.
At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”
Lawrence Bossidy

Let’s get started then! Here are the 3 best ways to avoid a rookie manager’s mistakes.

1. Take Time to Focus on the Big Picture

As you start growing your business, hire people and become a manager, your role is no longer only tactical. Yes, you will still need to do some fire fighting here and there, but you also need to take time and focus on the big picture. Which translates into being strategic about your business. 

Depending on your role and size of the organization, in the beginning, the strategy portion might be 10% of your time. However, as the business grows, or you climb the corporate ladder, this ratio will start going up significantly. Therefore, starting to build your strategic muscle early will help you progress into it with ease.

Being strategic means knowing what is truly important, not just urgent. It means ensuring that you take time to work on the important and not letting the urgent overshadow it. Yes, I know that you are getting a “better” sense of accomplishment from responding to 100 e-mails a day or helping employees with their tasks. But as necessary as it might be for you sometimes to jump and fight in the trenches, it cannot consume 100% of your time.

Don’t focus just on activities, set goals and focus on accomplishing them. Being strategic ensures that your business grows and stays competitive as opposed to just spinning like a hamster wheel.

2. Delegate Smartly

So far you have been either doing it all in your business or doing specific tasks as an individual contributor. It’s all natural then that at the beginning of your management journey you want to do it all alone.

Beware though as it’s an old habit from the past you need to get rid of as fast as you can. Not only because you won’t have time to be strategic, but also you will become one of those annoying micro-managers that no one wants to work for. You need to show confidence and trust your people to do things right.

So how to delegate smartly? Here are some ideas:

1.    Treat delegation as a way to develop and grow your team members. It’s not a dump and run tactic. Delegation takes time in the beginning. It teaches you strategy, requires planning and patience.

2.    Match the delegation’s tasks with the strengths of the employees to whom you will assign them.

3.    Clearly define the goals – an outcome of the functions you are passing on.

4.    If required, train your employees of any aspects of the task performance. Show them anything that is important to you, but don’t constrain them to one way of reaching the goal. Just give them ideas. Ensure they know they can put their own spin to it. Remember, many roads lead to Rome. Let your employees pick one of them; you might enable innovation this way 🙂

5.    Trust your employees not only with responsibility but also the authority to make some decisions along the way. Clearly define for them, which decisions they can make, on which they need to consult with you, and which you need to make.

6.     Don’t forget about feedback – praise your employees for a job well done and if there is anything they need to improve on, tell them about it candidly and constructively.

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Jim Collins

3. Focus on Your People

“Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. You bet on people, not on strategies.”- Lawrence Bossidy

Many great and successful leaders talk about it all the time, but somehow it’s not a common practice yet. At the end of the day, your people are your success. As a Boss, your main job is hiring great talent and developing them by coaching and feedback.

It’s not easy to do, especially in the beginning. It is why people management skill development is so important. Don’t just learn on the job. Big mistakes can cost you not only your job or loss of business but also affect your employees, real people with families whom they support.

Of course that no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes me included, and you will make them too. It is why you need not to be afraid to acknowledge you do not know it all and get support. If you are a new manager in a company, reach out to your boss, HR partner or more senior colleagues for advice. Maybe you can find a mentor. If you are a solopreneur, connect with those who have large teams and are killing it.

Also, invest in yourself – for you and your team.

Throughout my career, I have developed my skills through many different channels: on the job, in-person training, online courses, formal education, as well as mentors and senior colleagues. Although I made many mistakes along the way, I know that all that investment paid off. It prevented me from causing significant damages to the teams I managed and the businesses I run and also speed up my growth as a leader.

Since building a team, starts with recruitment, I prepared a free guide with 6 hiring strategies to help you start on the learning journey. It’s a quick read, a token of appreciation for those who want to learn for them and their people.  Click here to receive my e-guide: ABC of Hiring.

To sum up, business is often compared to team sports: there are goals to hit, and people are in it to win. As per Michael Jordan: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

As a Boss are your team’s main coach. It’s on you to hire talent, develop and coach the talent and above all ensure that all the individual talents become a high-performing Team. I compare a great team to a puzzle: every piece is different, but with a great leader when put together, they create a beautiful & cohesive picture.

A great team is like a puzzle: every piece is different but
together they create a beautiful & cohesive picture.

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