Important: this is an article based on Nicolas’ experience, not Loan’s experience.
I remember my first management experience as if it was yesterday. Inside my mind; a mix-bag of pride and excitements. And also a lot of anxiety and doubts. Did I make mistakes? Of course I did. I made plenty of mistakes!! But in today’s article, I will try to tell the story of my biggest mistake I made during my first management experience.
By the way, this article totally related to some of Loan Tran’s coaching or workshops that you might see her offering on this website. But for today, I just hope that you can avoid to make the same mistakes that I did when I was managing people for the first time.
What happened to me?
What was the biggest mistake I made during my first management experience?
My biggest mistake was that I didn’t gave clear instructions on what I was expecting and I jumped in too many times to do the work in place of letting my employee do her tasks.
“I didn’t gave clear instructions”.
I recruited a receptionist to welcome guests, help them to checkin and ensure someone is at the front desk to offer customer support, answer phone calls and booking emails. There could be more “tasks” but basically this is what a receptionist is doing and why I hired her to do. (Yes in this case it was a female receptionist.)
But my receptionist was asked (by me) to help the cleaner, to do some security, to participate in the events organization, perform some marketing tasks, etc. etc.
So some days, she wouldn’t have time to do her receptionists tasks properly because she was asked to do other things instead. And when I was seeing her being free I would give her some random assignments, completely out of scope.
Doing so for me was a way to ensure she would have something to do. But most of the time, I was not delegating properly and her results would not be remarkable.
“Too many times, I was interfering”.
Just writing this gives me goosebumps! I see new managers doing this same mistake too often. I was not letting her do her job. A guest would enter the lobby and I would just welcome them, check them in and show them the place. Reminder: I had hired a receptionist for that job…
When as the manager, you do this, your employee is lost. You make them unable to do their job, but at the same time, they will politely let you do it because they are following orders.
But the worst is that you probably have more important to do, and you are wasting your time and your company resources by doing someone else’s job.
So what were the results of this first managing experience?
She quit after 6 months of suffering this poor treatment. She left the company saying that she wasted 6 months of her time.
It took me time to understand that I’ve done something “wrong”. Despite all the learnings. And it took me time before trying to recruit someone else with confidence.
Context: moving from theory to practice.
For the leaders and managers reading this, or for the ones doubting if they should take on a leadership position in the coming months or years, here is my first recommendation for you:
Learn! Do not guess.
But there are many aspect when it comes to “learning” something.
For my first management experience, I was loaded with theoretical knowledge acquired from my 3 years of studies. In my school they were teaching me all the different management styles, some leadership essentials and allowed me to practice on real case-study or do some internships.
But it’s only “theoretical”. So when you enter the adult life; the active world, and you get the chance to become a middle manager, then that’s where the second aspect of learning comes into place: you start to “practice”!
And that’s where the fun begins (😈). You don’t have time to look into your notes anymore. You cannot really call your teacher to ask for some hints on each case you face on a daily basis. The problems are coming your way and you must find solutions or deal with them “now” otherwise, the team’s motivation or the company results or your ability to keep your job is at risk.
Key takeaways from this experience?
I learned a lot, and here is what I changed after that poor experience as a manager:
- Explain clearly what is going to be your employees responsibilities and train them properly a few times to ensure they can know how to do it according to my standards.
- Suggest additional assignments on a voluntary basis: “who is interested in helping me to organise this event?” which would be rewarded by giving them more responsibilities and an increased salary.
- I stopped to do their job. I would rather let them work, handle the problems they created by themselves and rarely interfere. 90% of the time, the problems were solved in a different way than I would have sorted them. But by not jumping in, I was free to focus on other things and I learned new ways of sorting our daily problems by listening to how they handled some tough situations.
“Leadership is not about status, it’s about people” as Loan likes to put it. When you see it from that perspective, you understand that your role as a manager is all about helping your team to be able to do their work with confidence, effectiveness and if possible, with a smile.
In conclusion, if you have the chance to become a manager, take it! But don’t do like me; don’t only base your decisions on what you’ve learned at school or in a book. I would recommend any manager to keep reading (for sure!) but to also talk with other more experienced managers.
And this is the perfect opportunity to mention that Loan Tran is available to hear your stories and start helping you to be more confident, more effective and help your teams to achieve outstanding results. She takes free consultations call on this page.