ATD Blog

8 Mistakes New Managers Make That Cost Them Employees

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Many new leaders are thrust into supervisory positions quickly—with no real management training. As you would expect, they make lots of mistakes. Here is a breakdown of the most common mistakes new managers make. Hopefully, just being aware of them will help you do things differently and keep your employees on your side. 

Mistake #1: Trying to be everyone’s best friend

While fostering strong one-on-one relationships with team members is important to promote trust, a new manager’s first priority should be developing the team as a cohesive whole. Also, make clear that you are not your direct reports’ friend, but their manager. Blurring the lines too much will lead to confusion and decreased productivity. 

Mistake #2: Assuming your title is a magic wand

Tasks will not magically get done because you are the manager—and you said so. Instead of simply issuing orders, you must inspire your team to work with you and for you. Authority does not automatically confer respect. It must be earned.

 Mistake #3: Making promises you can’t keep

In your eagerness to remedy all of the wrongs on your team, it’s tempting to guarantee solutions that you can’t necessarily deliver. Recognize that it’s better to keep promised actions more modest than to risk disappointing and frustrating your team members by failing to keep your word. 

Mistake #4: Changing everything


Many new managers make the mistake of trying to overhaul the whole organization in their first few months. Things are usually done a certain way for a reason, and that reason may not be incorrect. Introduce your new ideas one at a time, soliciting buy-in and support gradually. 

Mistake #5: Presenting yourself as infallible

Getting promoted does not make you Superman (or Superwoman). New leaders who hide their weaknesses or pretend that they know everything will stunt their own professional development and risk the business’ health. 

Mistake #6: Getting mired in the details

As a manager, your role is to understand and focus on the big picture. By trying to micromanage every project, you’ll be a bottleneck and a barrier to progress. Delegate sensibly and trust your team members to take care of the minutiae. 


Mistake #7: Steering clear of confrontation

No one wants to criticize employees—even if done constructively. But as a leader, you cannot tolerate insubordination or poor performance. Recognize that burying your head in the sand because you don’t want to make waves will only worsen whatever problems are challenging the team. Have that difficult conversation now. 

Mistake #8: Failing to seek guidance and support

Mentors need mentors too, especially when entering a new role with different roles and expectations. Don’t try to do it alone. When in doubt, seek out the opinions and expertise of other senior leaders. Your transition will be much less painful

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published by Alexandra Levit on the Fast Track Leadership blog.

About the Author

Alexandra Levit is the author of Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future (Kogan Page, October 2018). A partner at People Results, she helps Fortune 500 and government organizations and their leaders prepare for the future of work through proprietary research, consulting, and program development.

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