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The Top Three Mistakes Newly-Promoted Managers All Make

There are some classic mistakes that newly-promoted managers make. Knowing about them and the techniques for avoiding them can help a new manager make a great start to their role.

This is the first in a series of three blogs on the topic. I will identify the three mistakes and give you techniques to not only avoid them but to grow and thrive as you start to develop the foundation of your management strengths.

Three Newly-Promoted Manager Mistakes

  • Trying to do it all – not delegating Sometimes newly promoted managers forget that the way to prove their worth is to get things done through others
  • Trying to be friends with staff – Managers need to provide a balanced view of performance, both the halos and the warts, and if the manager is trying to be friends with staff, it’s much harder to give tough feedback
  • Pushing to be promoted before you’re ready– In their zeal to grow their careers, some managers apply to senior jobs too quickly in order to get ahead. All they prove is that they don’t yet have the judgement to know the growth they still need to make.

Not delegating?

One of my clients, George, a newly-hired Controller, had the disconcerting experience of having his new boss stop by his desk one night. It was 7 pm and George was still working, trying to get a handle on some cost analysis. His boss barked at him, “Is there something wrong with you? Does the fact that you are still here at this hour the fourth day in a row mean that you can’t actually do the job I hired you for?”

George stared at his boss, slightly panicked and not knowing what to say. His boss went on, “I don’t expect my managers to do everything themselves. If you are still here this late, day after day, you are either not smart enough to do the job or you are trying to do all the work yourself. You choose. You will either learn to delegate or you will burn out. I know what I would prefer. Let me know what you decide,” he stumped off.

George was shocked but it was a very useful wakeup call. Had he been delegating enough? Not likely. And he had to admit that staying until 11 pm for days in a row meant that he was too tired to do a good job the next morning.

You can’t do it all alone

From then on, he  decided he must change his ways. He analyzed the work. He met with his staff and portioned it out so that he was not the first preparer of the information but the reviewer of it. It was the beginning of a great career that eventually saw him become CEO of a publicly traded company and a very successful businessman.

George would tell you today that if he hadn’t learned that lesson, he would never have been so successful. And from then on, he always applied the principle of asking himself, “Should I do this work, or should I delegate it?” He became a more intentional leader and his people grew and he grew along with them.

Steps to start delegating

How did George do it? The biggest change was to follow the two points below – changing his mindset, and asking one question about each piece of work he handled:

  • He changed his mindset about his staff. He decided to be intentional about growing the capabilities of his team. He knew he couldn’t prevent problems his staff would have as they learned and stretched beyond what they knew,  but he could make sure they learned the most from whatever happened
  • He asked himself weekly, “Who should do this work and what support do they need from me?” He made an effort to get work off his plate that others could do, or be trained to do.

Delegating, or, not delegating can be one of the hardest things for newly promoted managers to get right. Drop us a line and share with us your delegation challenges, perhaps we can help. Rapidly we can get you or your managers to leave behind the behaviour of not delegating. Our system is a consistent, coachable and repeatable program you can quickly learn and apply.

In my next post, I’ll explain the second mistake newly-promoted managers make – trying to be friends with their staff.


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