First-Time Managers All Make This Mistake

This week I wanted to talk about management. In this video, I am going to be telling you the one mistake all first-time managers make. This will usually happen within the first six months you are on the job. This is one of those things they do not teach you about in business school but could really help you in your career. WATCH NOW

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If you are a first-time manager, you are faced with a difficult problem. You are starting a new position that you have never done before, and your company is probably not going to train you how to do. Most company’s will just throw you a team of people and say, “start managing.” And the job is a lot different from any of your previous jobs. Because instead of you performing the work, your employees will be performing the work and you will supervise.

This is a stressful situation, and all first-time managers make a simple mistake. You miscommunicate with your employees. You make this mistake because you are stressed and unaware of what is happening. So, I hope that by walking through an example with you, it will help minimize the mistakes in your experience.

This all has to do with personality traits. In psychology, there is a theory called the Big Five personality theory. This idea claims that there are five basic spectrums that everyone’s personality falls on from high to low.

  • Extraversion
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness

It has long been a “Holy Grail” of business to determine if there is an ideal level of each trait to get the best employees. Then you could simply hire the right people after they get the best score on a personality test. Most of these efforts have been debunked as not helpful in hiring. I agree. In my experience, I have met outstanding businesspeople with all different types of personalities. For instance, it makes no sense to only hire extroverted people, because you would miss out on some good introverted candidates.

However, what I have found useful, is for you to be aware of your own personality traits, because your personality impacts how you make decisions and interact with others.

Let me give you an example. When we make decisions, we like to think that we evaluate a set of data, which drives the correct decision. However, in business, very often you have an incomplete set of data, and you still must decide. In those situations, you look for other information to guide your decisions, which will often come from your personality and your values.

For instance, a lot of businesses are making a big Human Resource decision right now, on how to set up work from home policies. For most businesses, this is a tricky decision, because you probably have some staff that will always need to be on-site at your business location. Having some staff work from home has a lot of benefits but will probably make the jobs more difficult for the staff remaining on-site. There is not a lot of data of how to set up the ideal policy, and I am betting the personality traits of the person making the decision is going to have a big influence on the final policy. If they have a personality that wants people to work on-site, they are going to have more people work on-site. If they have a personality that wants people to work remotely, they are going to have more people work remotely. There is not enough data to say one way is better or not. So, personality is impacting the decision.

Let us get back to the problem you face as a first-time manager. You are going to find yourselves in a lot of stressful situations where you do not know what to do. You do not have the experience and the training. You are lacking data, and what happens is your personality becomes your default position, because that is what feels the most natural to you. Your personality ends up guiding your decisions. This does not always result in the best outcome. The trick is to:

  • realize the difficult situation
  • be aware of your own personality
  • ensure you are not miscommunicating

Let us talk about your personality. In my opinion, the personality spectrum that has the biggest impact on your management style is “Agreeableness.” Someone high in agreeableness is friendly and helpful. Someone low in agreeableness with be more distant and mean. Traditionally, it has been viewed in the business world that you want a leader to be low in agreeableness, because managers have to make difficult decisions, and you do not need to be worried about being everyone’s friend. But I have not found that to be true. I would argue that you want to remove your personality from the decision and focus instead on clear communication.

Let us walk through a scenario. On the Agreeableness spectrum, you have friendly on one end and mean on the other. So, let us say we have a first-time manager. Let us say they need to make a tough decision. If they rank high on agreeableness, they will try to be the employee’s friend. If they rank low on agreeableness, they will yell at the employee. Both outcomes are bad. If you are friendly, the employee is not going to hear your message. If you are mean, the employee will never forget, and will not follow your leadership. What you want is clear communication with the employee on what needs to happen.

Let me go back to what we are trying to achieve here:

  • realize the difficult situation
  • be aware of your own personality
  • ensure you are not miscommunicating

Let me use myself as an example. If you watch my videos, I think you can tell I am an agreeable person. I am the type of person who is always smiling. That is also the leadership style where I feel the most comfortable. I like to lead through example, encourage people, and inspire people to get things done. When I had to supervise people for the first time, I must admit that there were times when I did not communicate effectively with my employees. I saw a problem, and instead of confronting them, I wanted to be their friend. If you have ever experienced this, leave a comment down below and let me know what happened with you. I have also seen the opposite happen. In people with low agreeableness they go overboard to assert their dominance over their team to get things done. Neither of these approaches are effectively communicating. What you learn over time as a manager is that if you want people to do what you want, it is about clearly communicating what you want to happen, and explain how you are going to follow up to ensure it happens.

Let me emphasize again, in my experience, all personality types can become great managers. What is really important is your own self-awareness of your personality and when it is influencing your decisions.

Leave a comment down below letting me know what you think!

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Neither Zach De Gregorio or Wolves and Finance shall be liable for any damages related to information in this video. It is recommended you contact a CPA in your area for business advice.

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