Four rookie mistakes for the federal manager to avoid
With the NFL playoffs now underway, the annual firing and hiring of coaches has begun. The Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings were the first teams to make a decision by promoting first-time head coaches to lead their teams.
Picking a rookie can be a risk, but for teams wanting to progress forward, their fresh perspective and ideas are often worth it. Remember Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers' young leader, won a Super Bowl in his second year as a head coach. But for all of Tomlin's success, it's likely he made some rookie mistakes along the way.
With the start of the new year, there are a lot federal leaders who've recently been promoted to be first-time supervisors or managers. Like the new NFL rookie coaches, each of these new managers will likely make their own rookie missteps over time. That's how they'll learn and grow to become great leaders.
There are, however, some common rookie mistakes that can be avoided. First-time supervisors and managers, here are some of those mistakes along with suggested actions:
Mistake No. 1: Assuming your team knows your game plan
As a new leader, you may have a great game plan that is obvious to you. You might have even shared it with a few individuals, or even with your entire team a few times. However, to be successful you must communicate your plan clearly and repeatedly. Rex Ryan didn't defeat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts by luck. He had a game plan that clearly defined his expectations for each player on the team--and I bet every player on the Jets knew it.
Mistake No. 2: Doing your old job, not your new job
Many first-time NFL coaches get promoted because of the excellent job they did in their previous positions as offensive or defensive coordinators. However, to be successful, they have to remember to help their new team of coaches succeed and improve, not simply do their previous jobs. It's the same for a new federal manager. To help get to know and understand your team, start by reviewing their performance reviews. Then, meet with each person individually to find out their strengths, weaknesses and professional goals. Based on this knowledge, you can set clear expectations, monitor performance, provide feedback, and offer training and support so that your team members can succeed and grow.
Mistake No. 3: Being a micro-managing boss
Given all of the challenges confronting federal agencies, you may be feeling the pressure to immediately provide real-time results. As such, you may be reluctant to delegate tasks and trust in your team's ability and performance. Like in the NFL, sometimes the leader can't be the primary play-caller. To help you empower your team, establish clear expectations for each team member's roles and responsibilities. This will allow them opportunities to excel and to make the brilliant plays for your team.
Mistake No. 4: Not being receptive to new ideas
As a new federal manager, you probably have a million new ideas for your program and team that you want to implement right way. In the rush to make your changes, you may dismiss others' knowledge, experience and ideas--no matter how good. Start by having a weekly team huddle where a different member leads the brainstorm around new ideas. This will help to ensure that your team's innovative ideas get heard, debated, expanded and improved; and as a result, you'll be seen as an open and receptive leader.
This is just a starting point for some of the most common mistakes I've seen from new supervisors or managers. I would be interested in hearing from readers about other pitfalls and problems. More importantly, I would like to hear what you did to overcome those challenges. Please share your ideas by posting your comments online or sending an email to email@example.com.
Government leaders, nominate your outstanding federal employees for the tenth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies)! Considered the "Oscars of Washington," the Sammies are the most prestigious awards honoring our nation's public servants. Nominations are accepted at servicetoamericamedals.org through January 31, 2011.
January 10, 2011; 12:25 PM ET |
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