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Classic new IT manager mistakes and how to avoid them

If you’ve just landed your first IT management role, you’re probably feeling a heady mix of excitement, trepidation and (hopefully) a desire to prove to those who promoted you that you’re worth your salt as a manager. If you’re coming from a contributory role, there’s a whole new skillset to get your head round as well as a fatter pay packet and a swankier sounding job title. To help you on your way, we’ve identified a few typical pitfalls for first time bosses to watch out for and the best ways to avoid them:

Trying to do things yourself

The adjustment from a task-focussed employee to a task-managing boss is one of the most difficult to make as you start your new position. It can be daunting when you realise the success of your team (and therefore your success as their manager) is dependent on your ability to coach, support and supervise people rather than be guided yourself. In your first few weeks, be conscious that you need to keep an eye on all your team members, but resist the temptation to do their jobs for them (see below.)

Getting bogged down in detail

Another all-too-easy trap to fall into is an overemphasis on detailed tasks designated to individual employees rather than an adjustment to focussing on the bigger picture. It’s a mindset some people find it difficult to escape, but if you don’t keep tabs on it you’re likely to end up as one of those dreaded micromanagers. Make a conscious effort to keep your eye on long-term goals, especially for your first few projects.

Being too eager to please

In a noble effort to make themselves popular with their team members, new leaders can find themselves making grandiose promises that they’ll find it hard, if not impossible, to stick to. Changing an unpopular but embedded system or finally making that shift to a more effective evaluation process might be easy crowd pleasers, but remember that there could be a good reason why changes haven’t been made sooner. Investigate thoroughly before making any big announcements and you’ll gain much more trust and respect from your colleagues in the long run. 

Prioritising likeability over respect

Likeability and respect are regularly confused by first time managers. As a leader and key decision maker, sometimes you’ll have to make choices that won’t please everyone. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be personable and professional at work, just that you now have to prioritise what’s right for your organisation over individual demands. Your colleagues will ultimately respect you for the decisions you make if they’re implemented with the best intentions for the greater good.

Overthinking

With a host of important decisions to make, inexperienced managers can easily fall victim to what’s known as decision paralysis. They can overthink every aspect of a problem and end up unable to make a choice for fear of making the wrong call, so they delay and delay – causing additional issues down the road. If you know you have decision paralysis tendencies, try Forbes’ one-three-five approach to breaking it and helping you reach sensible outcomes.