The time has finally come: You’re the boss. But leadership also comes with its share of challenges, especially if you’re new to it. How do you earn your team’s respect? What do you do when you have to supervise friends? How can you lead a staff and still get your own work done?
How you handle yourself in your first days, weeks and months as a manager sets an early tone to your team and can determine how they respond to your leadership. Avoid these five mistakes.
1. Doing everything yourself
New leaders often feel they can’t ask for help without undermining their authority. Worse, they believe if they don’t take on everything, their boss and staff will think they aren’t up to the challenge. CFOs in a Robert Half Management Resources survey said balancing their responsibilities, and their team’s, is the most difficult part of becoming a new manager. Simply put: You can’t do it all.
One of the most important lessons for a recently promoted manager is learning how to delegate. If you don’t, you’ll quickly spread yourself thin and risk burning out.
2. Being on the same terms with former peers
No one said it would be easy to supervise people you used to work side by side with. It’s tempting to keep things the same as they’ve always been, but this is a mistake. Trying to be both a friend and a boss sets you up for bad decision making, awkward conflicts and accusations of favoritism. Set boundaries quickly rather than seeing how things develop, or else you may cause confusion and foster resentment.
3. Micromanaging your team
While you want to prove to senior management that they didn’t make a mistake by promoting you, resist the temptation to helicopter over staff to make sure everything gets done just right. Doing so sabotages employee motivation and leads to disgruntlement, not respect.
Strong leaders empower their team to make smart decisions, take wise risks and manage their own workflow. Bad bosses cause good employees to quit.
4. Trying to make your mark right away
To show the team you’re now in charge, you should make a series of sweeping changes immediately. Right? Wrong. You first need to adjust to your new role and learn more about your team’s dynamics. Listen to your staff. Seek your boss’s advice. Read books on leadership. Then, start with small, incremental changes. There’ll be plenty of time for major overhauls later.
5. Understaffing to cut costs
You’re now in charge of a budget, and a healthy profit margin is part of your performance review, but don’t skimp on staffing resources to save money. If you leave vacancies unfilled or don’t add employees as the company grows, you risk overworking your team and burning them out.
A good way to meet business demands while watching the bottom line is complementing your full-time employees with a mix of interim staff and external consultants. This strategy, an integral part of the new labor model, is extremely helpful for busy seasons, filling a gap when an employee leaves and large one-time projects like an ERP upgrade.
Leading a team for the first time is both exciting and a little scary. When you avoid these rookie mistakes, you improve your chances of starting on the right foot and launching a promising career in management.
Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting, and business systems professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 140 locations worldwide and offers assistance to business leaders and consultants at roberthalf.com/management-resources.