So you’ve been promoted to a new management role: Congratulations! As a supervisor, you’re now accountable for employee retention, an indicator considered “important” or “urgent” by 78 percent of business leaders. To start out on the right foot in your new leadership role, take a quick look through this list of what NOT to do. You undoubtedly have some great skills going for you already or you wouldn’t have achieved your new position; to strengthen your leadership aptitude, avoid making any of these five big mistakes new managers make:
1. Not Gathering Feedback
Are you listening to your employees? It’s important to gather feedback from your employees on how you can be a better leader. A strong feedback system not only benefits your team, but also your company’s bottom line. Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability. Understand how your team views you as a manager by collecting their honest feedback in real-time – learning both your strengths and weaknesses can improve your management skills.
Gathering feedback is one thing, but doing something about it is another. According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. Make sure you take the time to listen to your employees’ feedback, provide your response, and take action. Show them you’re listening by taking the steps necessary to address any level of disengagement right away.
2. Not Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries
Inexperienced managers often fall into the trap of thinking that the way to develop a positive work culture is to make sure that all their employees like them. Now, you may think this sounds perfectly reasonable — and indeed, you won’t be a successful leader if your team members can’t relate to you at all — but a preoccupation with being “nice” can cause you to let boundaries of authority erode.
You’re the one who has to hold your team members accountable. Corporate consultant Carlann Ferguson points out the useful concept of “caring”: “Remember that caring is different from wanting to be liked. Caring is non-conditional and applies to every employee.” There are HR best practices for building employee success, but those practices are based on respect rather than in misguided efforts to be pals with your direct reports.
3. Failing to Delegate
One common hazard for newly promoted managers is a tendency to micromanage too many project details. After all, you were probably just another member of the team until recently, and taking care of specific tasks may still be second nature. An exhortation attributed to General Patton is useful to keep in mind: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
Jennifer Chatman, a faculty member at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, has some additional pointers to help new managers to stay focused: Instead of being preoccupied by how much is at stake if a specific task isn’t completed correctly, try concentrating on the benefits of delegation. Your employee accountability will increase, your team will gain confidence with each project they complete, and you’ll have more time to focus on the work that only you can do.
4. Not Setting Clear Goals
Just 35 percent of employees state that they have clear performance goals. This lack of clarity sometimes results from a new manager getting bogged down in daily processes and losing sight of the crucial outcome of everyone’s efforts. If you were guiding an expedition through the wilderness, you’d need to know how to recognize your destination, which route to follow and how long the journey would take. Without that crucial knowledge, you wouldn’t be able to gauge how many supplies you’d need to bring along or how much ground your group would need to cover every day.
There’s more to leadership than simply making sure you’re guiding everyone along the right path, however. It also includes communicating a clear purpose. When you include the company mission and values as part of your expressed goals, your overall employee alignment will stay vibrant and strong.
5. Neglecting to Develop Leadership Skills
It’s exhilarating to receive a promotion and be given new responsibility for supervising others. You have every right to feel proud of your accomplishment, but it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Now that you’ve achieved a significant growth in the organization, consider your position to be a stimulus for acquiring a new set of skills. Regardless of whether you happen to have personal talent for managing others, leadership is still something that can be taught, and U.S. companies dedicate nearly $15 billion annually to leadership development programs.
You may have to take the lead in reaching out for training and development, because despite the substantial investment mentioned above, leadership development is rated at “below average or poor” in over one-third of organizations. Another one-third have only average leadership development options, and only 31 percent of organizations state that they give their managers “above average” or “exceptional” training. Skillful leadership is a key factor in maintaining employee engagement, and gaining additional skills will yield a positive ROI for your organization.
6. Not Offering Recognition
The importance of establishing an employee recognition and rewards program cannot be overstated. You may have a few standout team members whose work is obviously praiseworthy, but it’s not enough to recognize only the very top performers. Achievers’ infographic highlights this point, stating 44% of employees cited lack of recognition and engagement at their current employer.
When you understand the roots of employee motivation, the necessity of offering frequent employee recognition becomes clearer. While monetary and social recognition is always engaging and welcome, true employee happiness is based on many other human factors as well. Mindtools points out that praise is a key motivator, as is team camaraderie. HR technology that facilitates peer recognition can be a powerful team-builder.
As you accumulate management experience and know-how, you’ll become more valuable to your organization, as well as to your direct reports. Your team’s contributions will grow, and after some time you’ll be able to offer mentorship to other rising leaders.
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