Getting promoted into a managerial role for the first time is both exciting and stressful. It’s a step up in your career, and a big one at that. The new role requires a whole new set of skills, and making mistakes during the transition is common, if not a given. Mistakes happen, but avoiding some of the most common ones will ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

We recently coached a team member who had just been promoted into his first managerial role. When we asked the executive why he had been promoted into his new role, she gave three reasons:

  • He was technically very strong. He could personally solve almost every challenge that came into that department.
  • He had a really positive attitude in a department that was well known in the company for having less-than-stellar attitudes. More than one person had left the company because of the poor morale in this department.
  • He was relatively new. The team member had been with the company less than one year and she didn’t think he would be defeated by the low morale, nor get stuck in the way things had always been done in the past.

When I met with this new manager, I was impressed. He told me that he thought he knew what needed to be done to turn the department around, but what he really wanted to know was what mistakes to avoid as a new manager.

That’s a great question, and the answer can prevent some of the most common and avoidable mistakes many managers make in their new roles.

Poor vision. Managers who go into their new position without a positive vision are defeated before they even start. You need to have a positive vision of what you want the department to become, what goals you want to achieve, and most importantly, a deep belief that you are going to make a positive difference as a leader.

Unclear goals. Most likely, one of the biggest reasons that this department has low morale is because no one has a positive vision of the future and the goals are set low and/or unclear. In these situations, managers often find out the employees don’t even have goals.

Don’t delegate. In your old position as team member, you were paid to look at the details, complete tasks, and produce results. As the manager, you are now paid to build a team that produces much bigger results than you could ever do as an individual. As we rise further up the ladder in organizations, our responsibilities change from less emphasis on the operational “doing” tasks to more of an emphasis on leadership tasks like managing, planning, and leading.

Don’t deal with conflict. Whether it’s team members who don’t like each other and refuse to work together as a team, or a team member who isn’t producing the needed results, you need to lean into conflict quickly in your new role and hold all team members accountable for the results expected of your team.

Try to please everyone. Any time there’s a new manager, there will be some unhappy team members. In the new manager situation described above, the team members who had been with the company a long time felt they should have the manager’s title, not the newbie who had been with the company less than a year. New managers need to remember to do the right thing as a leader, regardless. It is more important to be respected for doing the right thing than it is to be liked by disgruntled team members.

Rely on your new title. There’s a difference between leaders and managers. Managers have a title and a position on the organizational chart. Leaders may or may not have a title, but they always have a relationship with people who are motivated to follow them. Build strong relationships so you can honestly say, “I don’t need the title to get this job done.”

Bluff what you know. New managers who know that not everyone is happy with their promotion feel more compelled to justify why they were selected for the position. To do so, they resort to convincing people of how much they know. It isn’t your job to know everything, and it takes tremendous confidence to tell a new team, “I don’t know the answer. Anyone else have insight? If not, I will find out and get back to you.”

Don’t make decisions. When you are new, it’s easy to lose confidence when you know that every decision you make has amplified ramifications. It can even lead to “paralysis by over-analysis”. But, when you delay making decisions, you hold up other people’s work. Get the best information you can, and make the decision. Even if the decision is wrong, you will most likely be about to correct the course along the way and learn from the mistake at the same time.

Withhold praise and recognition. New managers tend to focus on ensuring their boss and senior leaders see the value they contribute as a manager. It’s easy to take the credit without even realizing it. The more you give the credit, praise, and recognition to others, the more others will feel motivated to do a great job for you.

It’s unrealistic to expect a completely smooth transition into your first leadership position. You will make mistakes, encounter obstacles, and have to quickly adapt to an unfamiliar and demanding role. Take the time to learn how you can avoid some of the most common mistakes, and then embrace the others as learning opportunities that will develop you into a strong and successful leader over time.