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Rookie manager? Avoid these three common mistakes

This article looks at three common ideas amongst new managers - and why they are often flawed

The realities of management can often be substantially different to the theories taught in leadership seminars and seen in textbooks.

Not admitting it when you don’t know the answer

It’s a natural human reaction to feel uncomfortable if confronted with a problem that you don’t know the answer to. New managers often worry that admitting when they don’t know the answer may give a negative impression. However, far from being a sign of weakness, this actually shows a good level of self-awareness and an acceptance that no-one knows everything.

Depending on your individual role and the size of the organisation, it may be the case that you do not know in detail how to carry out many of the day-to-day operational tasks, as this level of micro-management may not be possible. Knowing where to direct such a query shows that you are aware of where the expertise lies within the organisation.

So if you don’t know the answer, either direct the query to the right place, or ask for input from your staff by seeking the opinions of others or asking how it has been handled before.

Working harder and longer

The theory behind this is that you will inspire your staff to work hard and demonstrate to them that doing so can earn promotion and respect. However, arriving early and leaving late can actually give the impression that you are disorganised and unable to deal with your workload in an efficient and sensible way.

Working yourself into the ground is also likely to increase your stress levels, so that your behaviour becomes erratic, and your mood tetchy. It may be that seeing their boss looking stressed and exhausted could, in fact, make them question whether they actually want to become managers themselves, if such a sacrifice is needed.

Of course, there are often certain circumstances where extra hours are needed in order to meet a particularly strict deadline. The key for a new manager is to make sure that these occurrences are an exception rather than a rule.

Also, in these situations, if you can involve your staff and make completing the task on time appear a real collective achievement, with a reward where appropriate, it is likely to help build the camaraderie amongst your team.

Don’t show your feelings

The perfect manager is often depicted as serious and unfeeling, yet in reality, being an effective leader means openly displaying how you feel. Clearly, keeping emotions in check is always advised, but most employees don’t want to work for a flawless robot and want a manager they can understand and who they can share their emotions with.

So if you are taking your first step into management, try and remember that the three things above may look good in theory but have been proven not to work in practice.

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