Congratulations on your new role as a people manager!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of achievement of landing a promotion, the feeling that your skills, expertise and attitude are being recognised and rewarded. You’ve worked hard to accomplish everything in your career so far and now it’s time for the next step.

If you work for a good employer, no doubt they have already actively invested in your development and started to build the basic skills you’re going to need in the role of managing others. Not only that but they will ensure you have a structured path to follow as you start your new role to help you gain the other skills you will need and support you to deliver the expected results.

But what if you haven’t had this, or are changing employer and are not sure what your development plan is? How can you avoid some of the most common mistakes new to role people managers make?

Firstly, what are the most common mistakes we are likely to make and why?

There are various points of view on this if you search the internet, for me the main ones include the following:

  1. Starting out all guns blazing to make an impact. This generally happens because you are a little unsure of yourself and want to cover it up, whilst reassuring your new manager (generally the person who gave you the opportunity in the first place) that they made the right decision and chose the best person for the role.
  2. If you haven’t changed employer, trying to carry on doing your old role as well as your new one. The reasons behind this are usually about what you’re comfortable with and finding reassurance in the familiar. The longer you try to continue with this, the harder it will be to really understand the responsibilities of your new job and the different demands of being a manager rather than a doer.
  3. Thinking that everyone in your team must do things the way you do, and as a result trying to micro-manage all activity. Again this may come down to an underlying lack of self-confidence, a feeling that this is how a manager should behave or due to not knowing your team very well yet. One thing that is fairly certain is that this is a sure fire way to de-motivate your team.
  4. Not prioritising getting to know your team members as individuals. In my experience this is usually due to the demands other people make of you, goals your team need to make, meetings you have to attend, reports you have to write and a myriad of other tasks that will fill your calendar.
  5. Not making enough time for you. Be reassured this isn’t just an issue for new managers, it probably applies to most of us. It comes from a belief that everything else we have to achieve is more important than investing time in ourselves.

So how can you avoid these mistakes? There are some easy strategies that you can adopt from day 1.

It all begins by planning in time to meet with your team members individually and getting to know them. Find out about their backgrounds, experience and interests both in and out of work. What parts of their own job do they enjoy and which do they wish would disappear? What are their preference, expectations and goals? It’s also important to give a little of yourself your background, interests, work preferences, etc. your new team member shouldn’t feel they are under the Spanish Inquisition but a genuine two-way conversation aimed at building a rapport and forming the basis for a successful working relationship.

As you get to know each person in your new team better you will be able to adapt your approach to suit the needs of each individual and support them to deliver great results. It will also give you confidence in their abilities which should help you to not over-manage team members. It’s important to take your time, observe and listen to your team before steaming in and you’ll reap the benefits in team engagement, productivity and results. Also, remember to plan in time for your own development and, if don’t already have one, find a great mentor, their guidance and support will be invaluable on your journey to being a great people manager.

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