When first promoted to a leadership position, most people realize very quickly that their responsibilities are different from what they have been used to. A different perspective and set of skills are required to be effective. Sadly, the position doesn’t come with a manual and for most, mistakes are made. While most mistakes are not career limiting, it would be good for new leaders to know what some of the typical mistakes are so, if possible, they could be avoided.
Learning and recognizing what these common mistakes are can help new leaders become more productive earlier in their new positions. The following list details five common mistakes that new leaders have been known to make.
1. Rushing Recruitment
For new leaders, hiring a new member of their team is one of the more important tasks they’ll need to undertake. Rushing the recruitment process is a common mistake and usually leads to recruiting the wrong people: those who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. What’s worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to “carry” the under-performer.
When done right, day-to-day operations will run smoothly and the costs and disruption associated with turnover won’t hinder the team’s productivity. Time needs to be taken to determine the skill set, competencies and behaviours that will be required to fill the position.
In addition to skills and competencies required, behavioural assessments can help with hiring in a couple of ways. First they can be used to help build a position profile by identifying the key characteristics as well as the behaviours that are suited to the position. Secondly, they can be used to assess the characteristics and behaviours of candidates to help determine prime candidates quickly.
2. Failing to Define Goals
Goals provide focus and enable people to know when they’ve achieved something. When clear goals haven’t been established, people are not productive. They also can’t prioritize their workload effectively, causing projects and tasks to get completed in the wrong order.
This mistake can easily be remedied by learning how to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely – otherwise known as SMART goals. Taking it further, when individual and team goals are aligned with the objectives and mission of the organization, people become engaged because they can see how their contribution matters.
3. Not Delegating
As a leader it’s important to get things done through others. However, some new leaders are afraid to delegate. This is principally because they feel that no-one else would be able to do key jobs properly. The result is that the leader unwittingly creates a work bottleneck which causes a huge amount of stress for themselves and their team.
It’s true that delegation does take some up-front effort to organize and it can be hard to let go and trust people on the team to do the work correctly. However, unless tasks are delegated new leaders are never going to have time to focus on the “broader-view” that they are responsible for. What’s worse is that direct reports will be deprived of learning new knowledge and developing new skills under experienced guidance.
4. Misunderstanding Motivation
Many new leaders don’t understand what truly motivates their team and its members. Although it may be natural to assume ‘money’, it’s rarely the case. Although monetary reward is important, it’s unlikely that it will be the only thing that they will find motivating.
For example, some people may be seeking a greater work/life balance and would be motivated by telecommuting days or flexible working arrangements. Others will be motivated by factors such as achievement, extra responsibility, praise, or a sense of camaraderie. The key is to find out what motivates each person on the team and work to provide it. (See our previous blog post, Motivating Employees in an Era of Workforce Age Diversity.)
5. Not Providing Feedback
Ken Blanchard, motivational speaker and management guru, once said that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. However, many studies have shown that failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that new leaders make. When prompt feedback isn’t provided, people are deprived of the opportunity to improve their performance.
To avoid this mistake, it’s important to learn how to provide regular and honest feedback. Doing so helps to develop trust and rapport and if done correctly, can earn respect. Using behavioural assessments can also help new leaders with this skill because data provided can help to identify where their communication strengths and weaknesses are as well as identify the best approach to take when giving feedback to individuals on their team.
To learn more about how behavioural assessments can help new leaders as well as individuals on their teams, contact us.