Common traps for new managers to avoid


Common traps for new managers to avoid

Transitioning from an individual contributor to a people manager sounds straightforward. You did a great job in your particular role, and now you’re being tapped for greater responsibility by joining management ranks and formally leading others. Piece of cake! Before you jump into the pool too quickly, though, it’s essential to get into the appropriate mind space. 

From solo performer to leader … avoid micromanaging
There’s an expression that says, “What got you here won’t get you there,” meaning that the same skills, knowledge, and aptitudes that made you successful as a solo performer might not work well as a leader. Want proof?

Micromanagers come in all shapes in sizes, and because of their intense need to control everything that comes out of their new team, they feel the need to oversee everything. I’ve even seen new managers who instructed their team members, “No emails are to be sent out from this department that I’m not copied on!” Ouch.

We’ve probably all had our share of working for micromanagers, and we likely didn’t enjoy the experience all that much. After all, who wants to work for someone trying to control your every move and thought, expecting perfection before an email can be sent from your desk, or otherwise making you feel like your sense of confidence and creativity is constantly challenged?

True, when people who report to you send out emails, recommendations, or project-related deliverables, your neck is somewhat on the line. I get that. But here are some words of wisdom as you prepare for this massive transition in terms of your individual performance and team contributions that are about to show themselves.

Ease the transition with these three rules:

Rule 1. Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. John Updike said that, and it perfectly underscores the challenges that many newly minted managers experience. Nothing stops the forward march of creative endeavor like the need to produce something to perfection.

Rule 2. Micromanagement is about uber-control, pure and simple. Since you could “control everything” on your desk when you worked solo, you now attempt to control everything on everyone else’s desk, although you’re now responsible for a team of four. Never a good strategy because you’ll burn yourself out.

Rule 3. Micromanagement won’t allow you to scale your career. If managing four people has you chasing your tail with your hair on fire, you likely won’t get a chance to manage a team of eight. Or eighty. Or eight hundred. No doubt, mastering “leadership” is the game you want to play without getting lost in the quest for perfection.