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Tag Archives: mistakes

Five lessons learned as a first-time supervisor

At various points in your career, you’ve no doubt come across terrible managers or supervisors, perhaps even had the misfortune to report to one or two of them. But, as horrible as they were, maybe it wasn’t really their fault! Perhaps they started off as first-time supervisors not knowing what minefields to watch for. And then, when they made a few mistakes, because they didn’t know any better, they continued with the same lapses and blunders, and were just never able to pull out of the quicksand.

Years ago, when I got my first supervisory role, I had my fair share of missteps.  It wasn’t until later, when I starting working with clients in my leadership development consultancy, that I realized that all my early mistakes and stumbles were actually quite common for novice leaders. So, in my latest column for The Globe and Mail that published this morning, I’ve described the five most unexpected (yet common) lessons I learned as a first-time supervisor.

Five lessons learned as a first-time supervisor

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How you admit your mistakes matters

ibdLast month, Morey Stettner from Investor’s Business Daily reached out to me as an expert source for a story he was writing for their “Leaders and Success” page.  He was interested in the best way for leaders to admit their mistakes, whether it was to their peers, their employees, their Board of Directors, or others.  This is the article that was published in their print edition last week on May 28:

Admit mistakes clearly to reassure others, not make matters worse

In addition to yours truly, Morey interviewed three other individuals, all of who provided excellent advice.

What have been your experiences?

But I’d like to know what you think?  Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve either had to admit an error in judgment or report a problem and you handled it appropriately?  What about the opposite, when the outcome wasn’t what you’d hoped?  Or have you observed a senior leader in your organization admit mistakes well or poorly?  Please share by adding your comments below.

P.S. Morey found me as a result of this column I wrote for The Globe & Mail a year ago in May 2018: Why good leaders make grave mistakes − and still thrive.  If you haven’t seen it before, you may find this helpful as well.

When leaders make mistakes …

#$&*&@# happens!  Well-laid plans don’t always turn out exactly the way you’d anticipated.  A sale that was one signature away from being finalized falls apart at the last minute.  One missed detail takes a project down the wrong path and it then costs a significant amount to bring it back on track.  The leadership journey is fraught with unexpected challenges and unknown landmines, and sometimes even the smallest misstep by a leader can result in financial and reputational loss.  The reality is that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen.

It’s how you respond to the mistakes that will matter

Some mistakes will be small, ones that you can simply shrug off as minor bumps in the road.  But others will be large, ones that affect major company objectives, directly impact profitability, or put important relationships in jeopardy.  It’s how you respond to these large slip-ups that will determine whether you’re a leader or a manager.  In my column in today’s The Globe and Mail, I lay out the three essential actions that separate the leaders from the managers, the three steps you have to take in order to successfully move past these blunders.

Why good leaders make grave mistakes – and still thrive

When good leaders make grave mistakes

All decisions carry risk and therefore come with potential obstacles that can sometimes derail progress. But when bad stuff happens, what do you think separates the leaders from the managers?  I’ve given you the three necessary actions from my perspective, but I’d love to hear about your experiences and points of view.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

Tip #7 to remember as a new manager – you will now be viewed differently by others

For several weeks now, I have been running a video tip series on what a new manager should know and watch out for when s/he makes the switch to a supervisory or management role.  Last week I talked about recognizing that you will have to play the role of “buffer”.  In my final (at least for now) post on this topic, today’s video talks about one final shift in thinking that a new manager should make: be aware that the people around you will view you differently.

You will now be viewed differently by others

When you get the title of supervisor or manager, the people around you experience a significant and major shift in job perception.  Continue reading

As a new manager, expect to play the role of “buffer”

Continuing in our ongoing series what a new manager should expect to do differently in the new role, tip #6 is to recognize and understand that you will need to act as a “buffer”.

You will need to be a “buffer”

Accept that, in your role as a supervisor, you will need to be a “buffer”.  You will need to be a buffer – between your staff and your manager.  Continue reading

Be prepared if you’re a new supervisor – most problems will no longer have quick solutions

Last week I offered up tip #4 in our ongoing series about the mental transition that is critical to be successful as a new supervisor.  Continuing in this series, here is tip #5: understand that, as a new supervisor, your problems and issues will tend to be the type that don’t offer quick solutions.

Your problems become more long-term and ongoing

In last week’s video in this series, I explained how once you are in a new supervisor position, your key resources are now your employees.  This fact leads right into another reality.  Primarily because your key resources are your people, your problems as a supervisor become more long-term and ongoing.

You see, people-issues don’t often have quick and easy solutions.  Continue reading

Tip #4 for the new supervisor – it’s all about the people!

A few weeks ago, I started a short series about how the skills needed as a new supervisor are very different from those that were needed in your previous role as an individual contributor.  When you take on the role of supervisor for the first time, it’s important to recognize that the change in your job title also MUST be accompanied by a shift in how you think.  It’s not the same job with a few minor changes, it’s a completely different occupation.  If you fall into the trap of thinking that the skills and behaviours that have made you successful in the past will make you successful in the future, you are setting yourself up for failure as a new supervisor.

The first three tips I offered got a very positive response, so I thought it would be useful to add to this series.  Starting today, and over the next three weeks, I’ll offer up an additional tip on how to successfully make the switch into a supervisory role.  Today’s tip: it’s all about the people!

Your key resources are your people!

Consider this big change: your key resources are no longer your technical knowledge, or your specialized equipment, or even your top-notch analytical skills.  Continue reading

Tip #3 for the first-time supervisor – watch out for the push-pull reality!

For the last two weeks, I have been posting video blogs about the challenges that come with first-time supervisory roles.  Here is a third one: the first-time supervisor often experiences something that I call the push-pull reality of leadership.  The push-pull reality of leadership is when you get pushed and pulled in different directions.

The push-pull reality

As a supervisor or manager, you will get “pushed” into roles that you may either not be comfortable with, or quite frankly may not even have the skills to do.  For example, you may need to have a discussion with an employee about tardiness at work, or even worse, personal hygiene or body odour.  Now, even for the most experienced managers, this discussion is not an easy one, and if you’re a new leader, it’s a giant step outside your comfort zone.  Continue reading

Tip #2 to keep in mind as a first-time supervisor

Moving into the new role of a first-time supervisor comes with challenges, many of which stem from not recognizing that you have fundamentally changed occupations.  I posted a video blog last week that offered one very important reminder when you make that transition.  Today I am posting a second video blog about how it’s critical to understand that as a first-time supervisor you cannot fall into the trap of thinking that the skills and behaviours that have made you successful in the past will make you successful in the future.  The skills needed for successful leadership are very different from those that were needed in your previous role as an individual contributor.  Here’s another aspect of this change to keep in mind.

Your sources of satisfaction will become more vicarious and intangible

You have to understand that once you are a supervisor your sources of satisfaction will become more vicarious and intangible.  Think about this: in the past, in your previous jobs, you could take a project  from start to finish, and enjoy the fulfillment that came from seeing the end-product of your efforts.  Perhaps you were even recognized either privately or publicly for your efforts.  Continue reading

First-time supervisor? Here’s an important reminder

When you become a first-time supervisor or a first-time team leader, you have to be VERY aware that for all practical purposes, you are essentially changing occupations.  This is true even if you’re becoming the supervisor of a department you are very familiar with.  And if you are not conscious of this fundamental change, then you are going to struggle with your role as a first-time supervisor, and perhaps more importantly jeopardize your success as a leader.  Here’s one aspect of this change you MUST take into account.

You are now responsible for managing other people’s time.

In the past, in your role as an individual contributor or a technical specialist, you were accountable for your own time.  Continue reading