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6 Missteps New and Inexperienced Managers Should Avoid

A mistake in judgement is definitely part of being human. I’m sure you can recall a time when you misjudged a person or situation. In business, professional coaching and training can help lessen the blow of mistakes made by managers; but nearly 90% of top executives admit to doing a poor job in preparing and training their frontline managers. Unfortunately, with little to no training, managers are frequently left to fend for themselves and are in line for making numerous mistakes.


For example, not taking time to understand the impact perception has on customer relations and employee engagement is a big mistake. Writer Aldous Huxley wrote, “there are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Knowing how to successfully navigate between what is known and what is unknown for the betterment of the business is fundamental to being a good leader. The way we perceive policies, guidelines, authority, or verbal or nonverbal communication whether true or not is the reality until we are able see things differently. Inexperienced and ill-prepared managers will be challenged by these multiple layers of leadership. Some will learn to love it, and excel, while others will constantly struggle and grow to loathe it. Be that as it may, there is no sure way to guarantee a manager’s success, which is why in today's global economy, executives across the world are continually gambling on the skills of mid-level leaders. In view of that, new and inexperienced managers must work hard to avoid these six missteps.


1. Becoming a one-hit-wonder

It is a fantastic feeling when our hard work makes a positive impact on an employer's reputation and sustainability, but creativity cannot stop after one taste of success. Finding great leadership is in constant demand in every aspect of conducting business. Why? Because the business world is forever changing. Executives today are concerned about what you as the manager can do now to keep the business going and growing. Therefore, managers must remain present, engaged, and interested in finding new opportunities to improve the way a company and their employees’ function. Being absorbed by outdated accomplishments is a sure way to waste your potential. Make sure you stay focused because there are many more successes up your sleeve. Vow to make the most of everything your talents have to offer!


2. Becoming distracted by your ego

Receiving a management title is a notable accomplishment, and it places you with other professionals who are all on the road to experiencing professional fulfillment. The emotions, excitement, and self-confident we experience when we take the next step in our careers can be exhilarating. Not allowing yourself to become distracted by a wave of ego only reaffirms that your employer made the right decision. Taking time to hydrate with celebration and appreciate recent accomplishments is good for our mental health. For some, a boost of self-confidence might be just what is needed to get us over a hump of self-doubt. However, be wary of the ego creep and do not lose perspective. Extreme ego trips can deter employee loyalty, business goals, and derail career paths. Remember, NO ONE can do it alone.


3. Refusing to see a different point of view

It is not uncommon for new and seasoned managers to question their ability to do the job and do it well. This level of worry can cause managers to overreact and become dismissive when peers and employees are attempting to offer helpful advice or share opinions. Being a manager is stressful and it has many ups and downs but taking into account different perspectives will increase your ability to solve problems effectively, think creatively, and even enhance your chances of finding a secret door of possibilities. Giving yourself permission to listen to and consider non-traditional outlooks and unconventional solutions is not as bad as people think. Granted some suggestions given may seem off target and not exactly what you or the situation needs, but entertaining different positions and ideas can actually be an ingredient for ground breaking solutions.


4. Sticking your head in the sand

Managers are vital to bringing visions alive and engaging the skills and followership of employees is vital to successfully execute organizational plans. The last thing a leader at any level wants, is to make a mistake that can jeopardize the progress or success of an initiative. This is where the uncomfortableness, fear, and frustration come in. That said, being uncomfortable in a leadership role is not unique, only 1 in 10 mid-level managers feel equipped to handle the unique challenges of management. This lack of preparedness can compel managers to direct a great deal of their energy towards avoidance. Avoiding crucial conversations, listening to conflicting perspectives, addressing interpersonal conflicts, making decisions, and explaining the reason WHY. Unfortunately, untrained leaders inadvertently stunt their growth by sticking their heads in the sand. No matter how uncomfortable, frontline leaders need to make a habit of holding themselves accountable for developing their leadership skills. Take advantage of free webinars, read management articles, invest in a management coach, and enlist a mentor to help build confidence in your new role and beyond.


5. Setting out to control your team instead of developing them

The power of your team is stronger than you could ever imagine. As a group, your employees can make you or break you as a manager. I caution all frontline leaders to keep in mind, that employees do not like being controlled, but they do like to be guided and shown a way to a future of professional growth. So, if you are a manager that indeed prefers to control your employees versus developing them; understand that there is a time to dictate, a time to coach and a time to sit back and allow your employees to fly. Where they land just may be your golden nugget! Learning how to be an adaptable leader can increase loyalty, strengthen teams and elevate a leader’s position in the eyes of top executives and staff. That said, if you are interested in improving your leadership skills and seek advance leadership roles familiarize yourself with the situational leadership theory. One of your many responsibilities as mid-level leader is to learn how to meet people where they are and work with, and through them to attain success. Situational leadership is the process of adjusting your style of leadership to the situation you or your team face. Expecting all staff to communicate and operate at your level is a mistake. Nonetheless, be careful not to give conflicting messages.


6. Not Asking for Help

No one wants to subject themselves to deceit or sabotage; the downside to asking for help is that it can easily expose how vulnerable you are at any given moment. Asking for input, assistance, or favors from others is sometimes embarrassing, worrisome, and even unnerving because you never know how the request will be perceived. Nonetheless, having success as a leader does not materialize based on your talents alone. Therefore, it is best if you learn how to manage-up the experience, knowledge, and relationships of your team/peers. Focus on the benefits of asking for help. For instance, it will extend your reach and network, improve quality of work, strengthen relationships, speed up progress, even gain a competitive advantage, and ultimately get things done. Allowing yourself to show vulnerability at the right moment will push others to see you as a person versus a title. Managers who are relatable, authentic, and action-oriented have very promising professional journeys.

In the end, management skills in demand today will not be in demand tomorrow. Therefore, potential blind spots and missteps for managers throughout one’s career will exceed far beyond six bullet points. Frontline leaders must maintain a healthy level of awareness and accountability to stay ahead of the curve for long-term success. To learn about middle management coaching and training workshops developed for frontline leaders and teams, email Kesi Howard at Kesi@structuredstrategies.global or log onto www.Kesihoward.com. Call today, 412-557-2966.


References

Anthony, L. (2019, February 12). Small business: define situational leadership. Retrieved from Chron.com: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/define-situational-leadership-2976.html


Cutler, A. (2014). Leadership Psychology: How the best leaders inspire their people. London: Kogan Page.


Pollock, S. (2015, January). Management: the challenge with middle management. Retrieved from Clear Company Blog: https://blog.clearcompany.com/the-problem-with-middle-management


Wile, E. (n.d.). Negatives of situational leadership. Retrieved from Chron: Small Business: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/negatives-situational-leadership-style-18606.html

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