5 New Manager Don’ts

Any advice for a first-time manager? Sure, here are five important “don’ts”.

1) Don’t succumb to imposter syndrome

Recently promoted managers often feel unworthy; question themselves or their abilities; wonder if they deserve it.

It’s hard to be successful if you don’t believe you will be. The person who promoted you thought you could do it. That alone should bolster your self-worth.

Project confidence even if you don’t feel it innately. As you make progress, your confidence will swell. That will radiate and be reflected back in the form of respect for your abilities. 

With effort, this harmonic cycle will increase throughout your career. You’ll rise as high as you believe in yourself.

2) Don’t be a friend

The most common new manager mistake, especially when promoted to lead former peers.

Being liked feels good and hard choices seem easier among friends. But they never are. Being both peer and leader is impossible. That relationship will inevitably collapse, with ugly consequences.

To be respected as a leader (see #1) be supportive, thoughtful, kind, and respectful. But draw the line at friendship, skip lunch.

3) Don’t overshare

Each step up the ladder expands your view, often to the unsavory.

A key role of a leader is to focus and insulate the team from the noise. Don’t echo or amplify concerns downward. Turn out or up if you need an outlet or support.

Also works in the other direction. Support your team by disagreeing in private, being unified in public. At both the individual and the team level.

Establishing a pattern of thoughtful, consistent communication early will minimize noise and bolster respect both up and down.

4) Don’t focus on inputs

An easy trap is to try to control behaviors, not results. To focus on the inputs: hours, costs, or keystrokes.

Focus on the outputs: sales, products, or results. This stems your impulse for micromanagement and avoids unproductive gaming of input metrics.

More importantly, this projects the correct objectives to the team. They share your goals, and their creativity often exceeds your expectations.

5) Don’t get meta

Do the essential management work very well, the rest will come in due time. 

Listen carefully and ask great questions. Consider every opinion earnestly. Be clear and consistent in your communication. Give frequent and frank feedback. Say ‘thank you’ far more often. Get great work done.

Don’t try to play above your skillset. Don’t try to be a mentor. Don’t compare yourself with the latest leadership quip. Focus on being a great manager, you’ll be that leader in no time.