The Top New People Manager Pitfalls to Avoid

The Top New People Manager Pitfalls to Avoid
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New Managers
More and more, younger and less experienced employees are being promoted into management positions.  Sadly, CEB found that 85% of employees receive no new manager training prior to switching into the role of manager.  Due in large part to their never learning how to avoid the top new people manager pitfalls, 60% of new managers underperform during their first two years.


Besides the obvious lack of preparation, new people managers rarely understand or appreciate the breadth of the challenge they are taking on and report not receiving the ongoing coaching, support, and feedback to support them as they learn how to get work done through others.

Four Common New People Manager Pitfalls to Avoid
With data from our people manager assessment center combined with over three decades of designing customized management training programs, we have identified four common traps that even well-motivated and well-intentioned new managers can unwittingly step into:

  1. “If It Worked Before” Blindness
    Too many new managers get tripped up by their tendency to cling to what worked before. Sure, it was their success as an individual contributor that led to their promotion to management. But the skills needed to succeed at one do not necessarily translate to the skills needed to succeed as a team leader.

    New managers need to tune into their team’s specific strengths and weaknesses, clarify the team’s goals and accountabilities, and engage their team members’ commitment to success. New managers need to learn how to read the team context and visibly adapt to it.
  2. Underestimating the Importance of Connections
    New managers are tempted to prove their leadership and distinguish themselves on their own. But experienced managers would tell them that their success depends not only on their team but also on collaboration with others — peers, former and new bosses, and often customers.

    Reach out to others for support in the form of feedback on performance, for help in solving problems, and for advice on how to maneuver most effectively through the levels above, below, and across.
  3. Not Understanding that They Are Always “On Stage”
    New managers may not realize how much what they say and do matters now. They are being observed by their team members who want to understand their new leader’s expectations and goals.

    As a new manager, you set the example. Presumably you have already outlined standards of behavior. Are you modeling those standards? If not, you can be sure your team won’t either.
  4. Being Indecisive
    It is typical of new managers to be so intent upon not making a poor decision that they don’t make decisions fast enough. You have been granted a position of leadership. Now you need to use it even in the face of risk.

    Use the data, lean on the advice of your team and mentors, weigh the risk of inaction against the risk of action, keep your values in focus, and step up to the challenge.

The Bottom Line
There are pitfalls in the way of new people managers. But if you thoughtfully prepare yourself for what it really means to lead a team, you can avoid them and meaningfully engage your team.

To learn more about how to avoid the top new people manager pitfalls, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

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