Common New Manager Mistakes

I recently read an article that focused on common mistakes of new managers. While the article focused on new managers, experienced managers and small business owners are also subject to the same types of errors. I have identified a few below, some of which are mentioned in the article and others which I have added.

Myth: Managers Wield Significant Authority – There is authority with having a manager title, but it is wrong to think that a new manager wields significant authority. The realization finally dawns on a new manager that there is an absolute reliance on others. Where the past was about their own efforts, the present and future is now about the effort and results of others. Effectively, there is a loss of control.

Myth: Managers Must Control their Direct Reports – The insecure new manager seeks absolute compliance from subordinates, especially in the early days. Eventually, the realization that “compliance” is not the same as “commitment” and that their teams just are not productive without subordinates being committed to their jobs and manager.

Myth: Managers Must Focus on Good Subordinate Relationships – When a new manager focuses on individual relationships, there is a failure to harness the collective power of the team. There needs to be individual relationships with subordinates, but it should be focused towards developing the team to obtain department and company goals.

Myth: Past Skills will be Key to Future Success as a Manager – this is a classic mistake for anybody that has been promoted. The very skills that got you into this new seat are NOT the skills you need to succeed in it. Too many times new managers or entrepreneurs try to use historic skills to succeed in a new role. I know a great sales person who once who deservedly was promoted to lead the sales efforts of a division.   He proceeded to continue to work his contacts and sell. This resulted in a failure to set team goals and develop talent with his new team. The mistake was realized before it was too late but it was a tough transition. We all need our history and background as a point of reference in our manager roles, but our job is now to manage – and the ramifications of dealing with a team have significantly greater impact than those of the individual. This is the only way a company can grow and ultimately successfully exit at the highest valuation.


Mike Kovar is a partner in B2B CFO, a business advisory firm that is focused on helping small and medium size private businesses achieve a higher level of success. Kovar has over two decades of experience in senior level financial and operational management positions in both large public companies and smaller private companies. He has successfully sold multiple companies, including two of which he cofounded. He can be reached at

Share This: