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10 Mistakes New Managers Make

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

It's disappointing that even today, many people take on, or are promoted into a job without real training. This is a sad reflection on a businesses induction training, But even those who are promoted from within need a Manager's Induction, which we discuss HERE.

New managers (like new drivers) may technically be ready for the job, but they lack a whole heap of experience and (as we all know), driving lessons can only prepare you for specific scenarios. The rest we have to learn as we go.

So the purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the mistakes that new managers make in the hope that forewarned is forearmed. By anticipating difficulties, training teams (and the manager themselves) can have a plan in place for overcoming them. Here are some of the most common challenges:

  1. Not setting out expectations – What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others. They are not mind readers. Discuss what is expected and set clear goals and objectives so that you CAN leave your team to get on with things. Check out our bite-size materials on this.

  2. Poor planning and prioritisation – Many managers simply react to what is happening around them, or jump to attend to their boss whenever called. Even very hands-on managers need to take time to plan each day and identify what MUST be done, as well as focus on the future. Our session on Plan your Time tackles this.

  3. Not delegating – You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t try. You have a team now, and people in that team need to feel useful and valued. Do your fair share of the work, but don’t do it all. Help people learn to delegate with our bite-size virtual session

  4. Focussing on paperwork – many managers make the mistake of focussing all their time and energy on paperwork, reports, admin and spreadsheets. Reading and manipulating data will not achieve results. Managing is about PEOPLE so prioritise them over paperwork.

  5. Lack of Trust – When you have high standards, and when you are responsible for the work of the team, it is tempting to check everything personally. However, this creates a bottle-neck and makes the team feel that they are not trusted. Instead of spending time checking, spend the time coaching. We have a module that explores this HERE.

  6. Trying to be ‘one of the team’ – Of course you can have friendships at work, but when you are at work, you are a manager. You cannot gain respect as a manager if you act too much like one of the team. set and stick to boundaries.

  7. Not asking for help – When you start a new job or are promoted, give yourself time to grow into the role. You don’t and can’t know everything you need to from day one. Learn from more experienced managers, ask for advice and even consider getting a mentor.

  8. Being busy rather than productive – Many managers rush from one crisis situation to another, from one meeting to another. They work long hours but never seem to achieve anything. Identify the activities that will add most value to your objective/team and focus your time on those. It feels good to 'save the day', but this can be addictive and managers who are too involved are doing, not managing. Managing time becomes more important than ever.

  9. Being too eager to please – Many managers feel their job is solely about helping others (which in part it is), but this doesn’t mean getting involved in things that don’t help your team to achieve its objectives, or getting sucked into other peoples problems. Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions or have difficult conversations and assert yourself. Being respected isn't always about being nice.

  10. Poor performance management – Managers have a duty to manage the performance of their people. This means having conversations every day about what is going well, and where improvements need to be made. Giving feedback is probably the single most important skill that a manager needs. Managing under-performance is one of the most difficult things that new managers have to get to grips with.

We have done our best to provide training materials to give people the skills to avoid most these problems - In particular, our New Manager Programme and Performance Management Package have been designed to help new managers to get to grips with the basics and avoid these common mistakes.

But perhaps one of the simplest thing we can do is help them to understand what they can STOP doing, reassure them that they don't need need to be brilliant at everything immediately AND give them regular, light-touch support via buddying or mentoring. Being a great leader or manager doesn't happen overnight - it's a career-long journey.

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