In an age where 23-year-olds start companies valued in the billions of dollars, many people are thrust into management roles without having spent all that much time as an employee. That inexperience can mean they make a lot of mistakes.
Ian McAllister, a longtime manager at Amazon, breaks down the common mistakes that new managers tend to make in a post on Quora. They are mistakes that he made himself as a young manager and that he’s seen others make.
Here are some of the biggest ones, which McAllister agreed to let us publish here:
1. Being slow to deal with performance issues. “Smoke becomes fire,” McAllister writes. When you deal with issues early, you can correct them gently. Waiting means stiffer feedback, and more difficulty fixing the problem.
2. Poor delivery of unpopular decisions. When a decision is important, unpopular, or both, managers need to think more about how it’s delivered, McAllister argues. “Good managers explain why the decision is made,” he writes. “Bad managers say, ‘Because the boss said so.'”
3. Being slow to resolve team pain points. Pain points are the things in a team’s daily work that interrupt efficiency. Good managers know them, constantly work to resolve them, and move to the next one, McAllister says. New managers tend to avoid dealing with them.
4. Not being clear on the requirements of the role in hiring. Managers without experience tend to hire “generic candidates with generic skills,” McAllister writes. The better ones know better what they want, write a better description of it, and get more qualified candidates.
5. Letting dotted lines proliferate. Having multiple bosses competing for authority, your time, and attention is disastrous for employees and makes for bad managers. Reporting structures need to be well defined.
6. Letting the team get swamped. When the amount of work grows, inexperienced managers just pile it on their team, McAllister writes. The good ones deflect it by pushing back against those at the very top, or grow the team.
7. Taking the credit. First-time managers, who can be insecure about their position, let themselves take the credit. According to McAllister, good ones redirect it to their team members.
8. Forwarding the blame. “New managers pin the blame on team members,” McAllister writes. The best ones, he argues, understand that team failures are leadership failures.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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