Becoming a manager is a career milestone many of us strive to achieve. But being a manager is hardly a cakewalk, and the last thing you want to do is struggle early on in your new position. With that in mind, here are five blunders managers tend to fall victim to, and why you should avoid them at all costs.
1. Not setting proper expectations with your team
Your direct reports might have their own distinct talents, but they're not mind-readers, so if you don't make it clear what you expect from them performance-wise early on, they're likely to wind up disappointing you in one way or another. Once you become a manager, sit down with your team and outline your expectations so that everyone is on the same page. Better yet, encourage your direct reports to ask questions so that there's no inadvertent misunderstanding holding anyone back.
But setting team expectations is only half of the task. You'll also want to set up one-on-one meetings with your direct reports so you can assign tasks and set goals on an individual basis. Having your expectations mapped out will make it easier for your team members to track their own progress, and it will help ensure that your team performs as well as you want it to.
2. Not delegating
As a manager, it's your responsibility to oversee your team's output and make sure you're delivering as a unit. But that doesn't mean the entire burden needs to fall on you. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a boss is not giving out tasks that others are capable of doing simply because you want to maintain control over each individual piece of the puzzle.
Noble as it is to want to do it all, once you reach manager status, you're likely to find that your workload increases and your meeting schedule promptly follows suit. And unless you're willing to spend every waking hour at the office, you'll need to get on board with delegating to avoid burning out or falling behind on other responsibilities.
3. Being afraid to try new things
If you're a new manager, you might be hesitant to do anything at your company that could be construed as rocking the boat. But if you don't try new things on the job, you may not end up making as much of an impact, which could lead your own boss to question your value in your current role.
That's why you shouldn't be afraid to shake things up a bit, provided you've thought them through. If you do your research and determine that there's a more efficient or cost-effective way to produce a product or offer a service, present that information, even if nothing about the current process is particularly broken at present. Being innovative is a good way to not only add value to your company, but inspire the people who now work for you.
4. Not being consistent
The last thing you want as a boss is to get a reputation for being unfair. That's why it's so important to be consistent with how you treat your team members. If you allow one person to work from home, for example, be prepared to offer that option across the board provided all members of your team have proven themselves to be equally trustworthy. Being a manager who plays favorites is a good way to get your direct hires to stop respecting you, so aim to establish a single set of rules and standards that applies to your entire team.
5. Not being flexible
Chances are, your employees work hard and are often willing to go the extra mile to meet deadlines -- deadlines that reflect well on you as their boss. But if you don't reciprocate in the form of being flexible with your team members, they may come to not only resent you, but stop putting in that extra effort. So get on board with the idea of letting your direct reports alter their schedules as needed, or take time off to deal with personal matters. Being flexible shows your team members that you value them and respect them as people, and that's a good way to motivate them to do their best.
Transitioning into a management role is easier said than done. Steer clear of these pitfalls, and the process will hopefully be a smooth one from start to finish.
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