career

'The 6 big mistakes I see first time managers make, and how to avoid them.'

We've all had those managers that have made us think, "If I were a manager, I'd do this differently". Then all of a sudden, you receive a promotion and have your chance to be the change you want to see! 

Congratulations. 

Let's pause for a second so you can take a minute to celebrate yourself - go ahead, I'll wait. 

It's a big responsibility, but it means your management team trusts you to lead your team and sees your potential so be sure to recognise the same in yourself; you deserve it. 

After leading, growing and developing various teams, I'm here to share some common work mistakes I see first time people leaders make (including myself), so that you can avoid them.

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1. Don't be afraid to get it wrong.

A lot of people wrongly assume that just because you're a manager, you have all the answers and will get it right 100 per cent of the time - but that's just not the case. 

There is strength in being vulnerable with your team and not being afraid to say "I don't know, but I will find out and get back to you". An employee will respect that more than giving them some long-winded response as a means to hiding the truth - transparent communication with your team builds trust and respect. 

Don't forget, you may have come from a role where you're a subject matter expert but moving into a new role takes time to adapt and learn. 

Have patience, you'll get there!

2. Feedback is not personal.

Okay, hear me out on this one because I know it feels like the opposite!

Being able to give and receive feedback is a valuable life skill that extends far beyond your 9am to 5pm job. Where people go wrong with feedback, is that it's viewed as criticism when it could not be further from the truth. 

When feedback comes from a place of love and wanting to develop your team, it is not your responsibility how someone receives it. 

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Sure people will get defensive. That's natural and it's a reflection of where they're at in life. But when you have positive intentions, people will understand. 

Likewise, when you receive feedback, it's someone holding a mirror up to your blind spots to help you become the best employee you can be - and that's a huge gift. Difficult conversations are a given in a leadership position so the sooner you get comfortable in the uncomfortable, the better you'll feel.

3. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won't kill you.

I cannot stress this one enough which also feeds into my point above. Approaching conversations with employees from a place of curiosity rather than assumption goes a long way.

I once had three employees having personal discussions on a particularly busy day and asked why they weren't working - it turns out they were actually on break and my face was red. When you approach a conversation from a place of curiosity, it holds space for everyone to feel seen and heard; rather than scolded like a little child. 

After all, your employees are not your children. Give them respect, and you'll get it back. Micromanage them and you'll push them away.

Image: Getty.

4. Appreciate, don't hate.

So often we're so focused on KPIs, business objectives and offering generic praise, that we overlook the individuals. Please don't fall into this trap. 

I know you're maybe thinking "But Bethie, we already have great employee benefits and rewards" and that's great and already puts you one step ahead of the rest. However, a survey by Gartner in 2021 found that 26 per cent of Australians would change employers if they were receiving a lack of recognition.

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Satisfied employees are producing higher results, have more ingrained trust in their employers and will lead to less turnover. 

A little recognition goes a long way and don't forget to make it personal.

5. Lead by example.

This one is a no-brainer, right? Wrong. 

There are a lot of leaders out there who put themselves above their team simply because of a new title and an outdated hierarchy. 

A good manager isn't afraid to be in the trenches with their team, doing the nitty-gritty work as well as their strategic and business targets.

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In a previous role working for one of Australia's leading department stores, monster retail sale celebrations were common such as Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Boxing Day sales to name a few. My team would often work overtime ensuring everything was ready to go for the best customer experience and while it would've been easy to let them do this work alone, I jumped in to help because your team will need support and you should be their biggest cheerleader and ally.

6. Delegate, feel great.

I cannot stress this point hard enough. If you take any of these tips to heart, let it be this one or you'll learn the hard way like many of us have through burnout which is no one's idea of a good time. 

I know how easy it is to say that you can do it easily and take it on yourself or that you don't want to burden your team - but this story needs to stop now.

After all, not only is delegating removing something from your plate, it's also affording your employee an opportunity to rise to the challenge and create a leadership pipeline. 

And ultimately, isn't that your goal as a manager? To develop your people and see them succeed?

Leaders come in all shapes and forms with various levels of experience but the main point is to just jump in and learn as you go along. 

Every people leader has started in the same spot you have and you will learn more with time. So remember to celebrate the small wins, accept the challenges for what they are - learning opportunities, and jump at every opportunity you can to grow, present, and get outside of your comfort zone.

That's where the magic happens. I believe in you!

Feature Image: Getty.

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