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Moving up the professional ranks is a common goal for employees in most industries. Receiving the trust and endorsement of your boss to lead a team is no small feat. That’s why new managers are often so eager to please their supervisors, get along with their employees, and solidify their reputations as true leaders. Unfortunately, this excitement can often lead to a few missteps. Be on guard against these common errors first-time managers make, and you’ll be well on your way:
Thinking relationships can remain the same. Moving from your current role to a managerial position is going to change dynamics in and out of the workplace. As a manager, you need to focus on respect and top performance from your team – not friendship.
“The vast majority of restaurant managers are promoted from the ranks of line employees,” says restaurant consultant David Scott Peters of TheRestaurantExpert.com. “They are usually one of the best at their position – someone who shows leadership skills and demonstrates a desire to do more in the business. The challenge is when they first make that move into management; they still want their peers to see them as their buddy.”
While scaling back on outside socializing and being “one of the gang” can be difficult, doing so is critical to getting others to follow your directions and take you seriously as the one in charge.
Holding friends to different standards. Similarly, a manager must treat all employees the same to gain trust as a fair leader. Matt Heller of Performance Optimist Consulting, who specializes in developing leaders in the hospitality industry, says new managers can have trouble with this issue on either side of the coin – favoring their friends by not holding them to the same standards as other staff members or expecting more from their pals to show they aren’t playing favorites.
New managers need to make expectations clear to all staff members and then follow through. Friends pressuring for special treatment or leniency may need to be reminded privately of a manager’s obligation to be impartial.
“New managers need to remember that employees may feel ambivalent at first about the new leadership,” says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better. “Some may be excited because they already know and like the person. Others may be resentful because they were passed over for promotion and thought they should have gotten the job. Yet others may be skeptical because they have had a string of ineffective managers and wonder how you'll be any different.”
Tip: Take time to observe and ask questions. Maybe you think you have a great idea for revamping the restaurant's salad bar. Before suggesting your idea or implementing change, study the current salad bar and talk with the people who prepare it, Steere says.
“Being a student of your employees may seem like a ‘weak’ thing to do, but it builds relationships. You're saying, ‘I'm interested in your work and want to learn from you. I value your expertise.’ Employees need to trust you as a manager before they can embrace change.”
Failing to give proper feedback. Whether it’s a pat on the back or constructive criticism, managers need to give team members regular feedback. Unfortunately, new managers often are too preoccupied to cheer on stellar employees and too afraid to confront lackluster ones.
“Most people really want to do a good job, and this means they have to be told what they are doing really well and areas where improvement is necessary,” says Roberta Matuson, author of “Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best.” “New managers often mistakenly believe that employees should know how they are doing without being told.”
Specific feedback helps an employee understand exactly what you want changed. For example: Say “Please make sure guests are offered a beverage within three minutes of being seated,” instead of, “You need to be faster.” Likewise, show you’re observant and sincere by praising specific outstanding performance than using the vague phrase, “great job.”
Hesitating to delegate. Finally, new managers oftentimes are so eager to make a good impression that they often try to do too much. They must remember they were hired to lead teams, not perform every single job themselves. Let your charges shine by giving them the right tools and support. As Matuson says, “We think no one can do things as well as we can, so we wind up doing everything ourselves. Of course, then we complain about how exhausted we are. New leaders need to learn to trust the people in their employ. Otherwise, why bother to have a staff?”
Ultimately, your goal as a manager is to lead and inspire your employees so that, as a team, you can help the organization achieve its goals. As long as you stay focused on that end result, you won’t be sidetracked by common missteps.