Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions

10 Mistakes New Managers Always Make

If you want your leadership pipeline to create a true competitive advantage for your organization, reduce the cost and severity of mistakes all new managers inevitably make on behalf of your organization.

10 Mistakes New Managers Always Make

A study of 17,000 global leaders conducted by Zenger/Folkman found that managers get no leadership training at all as supervisors. The stunning results revealed managers, on average, operate untrained for 10 years before receiving their first leadership training.

As a result, new managers will inevitably make mistakes as they bumble, fumble, and tumble through complex decision making with sometimes disastrous results.

So what are the most common mistakes new managers make, and what can the leaders in organizations do help to minimize and / or prevent the mistakes from occurring?

In our work with thousands of leaders in 24 countries, we’ve identified 10 mistakes new managers routinely make and offer some simple suggestions that will reduce the time and adverse impact of these mistakes.

1. Not Providing Performance Feedback

90% of employees say they do not receive adequate levels of positive feedback, and when they do receive feedback of any kind, the majority of employees say it is negative. To shift this destructive and demoralizing habit is actually quite easy. New managers mimic what they observe their bosses do, so it is vitally important new managers see and experience their managers modeling positive feedback.

2. Not Communicating Clear and Specific Expectations

The Gallup organization’s research consistently reveals 7 out of 10 employees are disengaged at work. The main reason – managers habitually use vague terms that lack specific details of the outcomes they desire. The most effective new managers are taught to use descriptive language that sculpts and paints a vivid picture of what an employee can be observed doing or saying to achieve the desired outcomes.

3. Failing to Trade Control for Contribution

Our research consistently reveals managers ask 7 closed-ended questions for every open-ended question. That ratio effectively shuts communication down and eliminates creativity, innovation, and efficiency. New managers can attain massive and attack-proof credibility and influence by consistently getting their employees’ input. And the easiest way to do that is for managers to develop a habit of asking “what” and “how” questions.

4. Mismanaging Conflict

In a Cornerstone On-Demand survey, 25% of managers indicated they were unprepared for the transition into management, citing challenges in managing conflict as a big barrier to their success. Furthermore, a study by McLean and Company indicated team success drops 55% when conflict is not successfully managed. It is vitally important new managers receive training in dealing with the three primary types of conflict – interpersonal, values, and task conflict. The training should also include a step-by-step process for developing and managing a formal conflict management strategy. When such a process is used, the likelihood of team success increases by five times.

5. Not Addressing Negative Attitudes

Attitudes are nothing more than habits of thought, and the first significant challenge new managers face day 1 on the job is the direct report who has a negative attitude. Unfortunately, new managers are often mauled by experienced, obnoxious, and ruthless bad attitude people. We highly recommend organizations provide coaching to new managers that equips them with the skills required to improve the employee’s performance or help them find success elsewhere.

6. Not Developing Other Leaders

It’s natural for new managers to expend a great deal of energy trying to develop followers. They become exponentially more effective once they recognize the key to their success is in developing other leaders. Organizations can dramatically reduce the impact of this mistake by teaching new managers the essentials of performance coaching and holding them accountable for providing coaching to their direct reports on a consistent basis.

7. Mismanaging Change

70% of all change initiatives fail, and the 4 biggest challenges new managers face in leading change are their fears, their ego, their pride, and their unpreparedness. We help new managers deal with change by providing a simple, 6-step change management model that provides a proven process to enable decision making that avoids cringe worthy moments.

8. Managing Everyone the Same

John Maxwell says new managers have a choice. They can either be a counseling leader or an equipping leader. The key to success is to manage people to their strengths. When we work with new managers, we coach them to keep their employees in their strengths zone, stretch employees out of their comfort zone, and never put employees in their danger (weakness) zone.

9. Failing to Develop Themselves

It’s expected that all new managers will overwhelmingly focus on delivering results. If you’re not careful, this can become a routine approach which will significantly retard their short and long term development. Best practices organizations create high growth environments where managers are expected to continue developing their people management skills using a development plan which outlines a set list of courses and other skill building activities.

10. Trying to Please Everyone

One of the most challenging aspects of a new manager’s role is trying to keep the peace among an increasingly diverse and global workforce. Leading organizations establish an effective training process where new managers are taught how to read their people and how to vary their communication skills to effectively lead in complex organizational cultures.


Armed with this information, conduct an audit of your new manager development process. When you find gaps (and as Zenger / Folkman’s research proves you will), take the actions necessary to close them. Contact us for a free consultation and additional tips your organization can take to shorten the learning curve and reduce the cost of the mistakes new managers are making in your organization.

The Floor is Yours

What other mistakes do new managers make? Please share them in the comments below.

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I would add the manager who is afraid of the word No, and over-commits themselves and their teams.
And the information/knowledge hoarders who use the phrase, “that’s on a need-to-know basis only”

Thanks for sharing those excellent additions Tricia! Much appreciated, and happy holidays to you and your family!

Best Regards,