9 New Manager Warning Signs to Pay Attention To

New Manager Warning Signs 6 different people point the finger at one man under a rain cloud

Warning Signs
Managers who heed the top nine new manager warning signs have a better chance to be successful.  Those promoted from individual contributor to first time supervisor want to succeed but often don’t know how. And their mistaken idea of what it takes to lead and be responsible for the performance of others gets new supervisors in deep trouble.

Your Success Is Dependent Upon the Success of Your Team
If you are part of the team that promotes high performing individual contributors to management positions, it is incumbent upon you to see that they are prepared for their new leadership role. New leaders need new manager training to set them up to succeed. If they fail, they make take the whole team down with them.

Nine New Manager Warning Signs
Watch out for these nine new manager warning signs that your new managers are struggling and on the brink of sub-standard performance or even failure.

1.  They Fail to Build Positive Relationships With Their Team
Building a team and establishing the new dynamics that a new leader brings can be challenging. The best way to gain the trust of new team members is to get to know them on a personal and professional basis.

  • What do they like to do on and off the job ?
  • How do they want to contribute to the team?
  • What changes would they make in the way the team has worked together so far?
  • What are their personal and professional goals and aspirations?

Inexperienced managers almost always underestimate the relationship aspects of leadership.  Our employee engagement research shows that employees find their jobs more fulfilling when they have positive relationships with the people they work with. But positive relationships at work do not happen on their own; leaders need to invest the time and create the environment required to building trusting relationships at work.

2.  They Manage by Instilling Anxiety or Making Threats
Ineffective new managers are often abrupt and abrasive in their communications. Perhaps this was the way they were managed in the past, but tactless interactions tend to make people fearful to share their ideas and are very destructive to team morale. The bottom line, the abrasive management approach is not sustainable.

It leads to disengaged employees, lower productivity and higher attrition. Make sure that your new managers are not putting their teams under constant and ineffective performance pressure.


Related Article: How Much Pressure Should a Leader Create to Get Greater Results?


3.  They Don’t Know How or When to Delegate
Without trust that their team can perform at a high enough level, new managers are tempted to try to do too much themselves or to micromanage. Either way, their employees can feel undervalued and resentful. Good managers delegate and know how to set expectations, clarify roles and responsibilities, and empower their team members to do their job.

4.  They Treat Team Members Unfairly
This can go both ways…they may favor some over others creating an unhealthy political environment or they may overlook poor performance. Leaders need to have an even hand in dealing with their employees. Substandard performance needs to be compassionately confronted and a fair plan put in place for improvement. High performers should be motivated with differentiated rewards and results should be transparent to the entire team.

5.  They Don’t Know How to Give Feedback
The main job of a new manager is to create a high performing and engaged team. This requires giving relevant and timely feedback on a regular basis so employees learn what is expected, what works, and what behaviors are discouraged. This is how employees learn and how organizational values are supported and reinforced.

Performance ambiguity is the enemy of high performing managers.

6.  They Are Quick to Blame and Don’t Have Their Team’s Back
Finger pointing undermines the trust that good leaders foster.  Any leader is headed for trouble if they do not shoulder the responsibility for the team when things go wrong or if they do not pass along kudos when things go right.   The best managers treat mistakes as an opportunity to learn and look for what they personally could have done differently.

If mistakes have been made, they privately address them with their team in a way that makes sense.

7.  They Don’t Keep the Team Well Informed
Bad managers hoard information and knowledge.  Teams that are isolated from information feel out of sync and discounted. Important information should be consistently shared.

Transparency builds trust, the foundation for any productive team. In fact, recent organizational alignment research found that information flow and transparency is the fourth most important factor in creating a high performance team.

8.  They Avoid Making Decisions
Once the relevant information is gathered and the right people are in the room, managers should be able to sift through the situation and be decisive. Too much waffling creates confusion on the team and loss of respect. Strong managers build decision making capabilities throughout their team by:

  • Understanding the type of the decision being made
  • Knowing who is best positioned to make the call
  • Identifying who needs to be involved

9.  They Don’t Take a Strategic View
New managers are often so caught up in the day-to-day tasks that they neglect to look forward and plan for the future. The best leaders set aside time each day to take stock of what big picture challenges lie ahead and how to address them. They think laterally and do not get stuck in the “weeds.”

The Bottom Line
Being a manager is not for everyone.  If you are a new manager or on the verge of a promotion to leadership, there are a few mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.  Then you should be on a successful path to help you and your team to succeed.

To learn more about becoming a successful new manager, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

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