Three Common Pet Peeves Employees Have with New Managers

In one of our recent Business Training Institute (BTI) meetings, we were discussing our 75 new soft skills classes for first-line managers. That lead to an impromptu sharing of our experiences with first-time managers and the mistakes we’ve personally had to endure. There are a number of articles on the web about this topic including, 7 Mistakes Most First-Time Managers Make at Least Once and What are the Common Mistakes of New Managers. Here are some pet peeves that resonated the most with us:

1. Micro-Managing

Everyone had a story related to this. Sometimes it was a manager who had been promoted to manage a group they knew nothing about, and sometimes they were part of the group they ended up managing. In all cases, these new managers felt the way to “manage” was to either take control of their employees jobs or telling them in detail how they should do it. Admittedly, there are times when a group is in crisis and needs a manager to step in temporarily at this level. In contrast, when a new manager takes over a group of experienced folks, they need to trust that they know how to do their jobs and look for ways to help their employees improve and grow. This can be a tough challenge when, as a new manager, what you know is how to be an individual contributor.

2. Airing Dirty Laundry

Sometimes first-time managers don’t understand the politics of managing. When they are having an issue with an employee or group of employees, sometimes they will share that with a colleague – perhaps a friend of theirs in the group or at the company, or maybe with their own manager. Doing this first can undermine the employee and even the group’s reputation. Managers must try to resolve the issue directly with the employee(s), and if that doesn’t work, then they should talk with their manager or even HR to resolve the issue.

3. Forgetting To Manage Up

First time managers often forget that they aren’t just managing employees, they need to manage their manager as well. This means understanding what their manager’s (and even higher – the manager’s manager and company) goals are, so their group goals are aligned with and support those goals. It’s also important for a first-time manager to regulate their manager’s expectations and support their employees in meeting those expectations. Managers shouldn’t throw their employees in front of their own manager without providing the coaching they need to be successful. After all, if their employee is successful, it reflects well on them.

What It All Means

So, why do so many first time managers have these issues? Most people move into their first management position because they’ve shown great promise as an individual contributor. But, many people (over 66% according to a recent CareerBuilder survey) don’t actually want to be managers. Why is that? It appears that a majority are happy in their current roles as individual contributors, and another third don’t want to sacrifice work-life balance. A reported 17% say they do not have the necessary education.

While a number of management jobs may require an advanced degree or certification, oftentimes that additional education doesn’t provide the important information about the day-to-day aspects of managing people. Good managers aren’t just born, it takes training and mentoring to get them there. Not providing the training and mentoring can make things even worse – your managers can burn out, and it can cause significant morale issues with your employees.

How do you make sure your first-time managers (or yourself, if you are a first-time manager) understand this crucial change in their job? Bellevue College Continuing Education offers many classes that are designed to help first-time managers improve their management and communications skills. For more personalized group training, the Business Training Institute provides workshops in delegation, coaching, managing teams, and many more classes specifically geared toward new managers.


Jim Bryan
Jim Bryan,

Director of Corporate Training

Business Training Institute

Last Updated February 27, 2017