What are the most common management mistakes?
Being a manager in today's lean business times can feel like an exercise in striving to achieve more with less.
Our guide to ten common pitfalls aims to help you steer a confident path through the mistake minefield.
Not communicating. Information is power, making it tempting to keep it to yourself. But clear, appropriate communication is not only key to being a successful manager, it is also key to being a successful organisation. It empowers employees to make informed independent decisions fast. And, that is the secret to a company that works like the proverbial well-oiled machine.
Not listening. The more you listen, the more you understand your team’s constructive ideas and contributions, as much as their needs and concerns. Remember, often what’s not said is often as important as what is. Only with the full picture can you get to the truth. Give employees who ask for your time your focused attention. That way, they know they are important to you and trust you to hear what they say.
Not team-building. The power of management success lies in the power of your team to work as an indivisible unit. Yet, your staff won’t think of themselves as a team if you don’t. Let them know you expect them to perform as a team. Hold team meetings, post team news, track team performance. Reward team success.
Not motivating. Never forget though, your team is made up of people who each make a contribution to your joint success or failure. The most effective way to reward a job well done is personal, individual recognition. Your team's morale, performance, and loyalty will all profit. High fliers, counter-intuitively, need most attention of all. Not only is their contribution critical, they are highly attractive to your competitors. But never be seen to be favouring one employee above another.
Not explaining the bigger picture. Don’t condemn your team to work blind on tasks they don’t understand. Explain what the project is all about; assign individual tasks, the benefit and the importance of each, the project’s value to the company and how your team's work will contribute to the overall plan. The more your team is invested in a project, the better their work will be.
Not setting goals. Effective managers set clear goals. Discuss with each member of your team their vision of the future and how that fits with your company’s mission. Develop attainable, measurable goals together. Employees without goals have no challenges, thus no motivation. Companies with rudderless staff can get washed off-course, if not disastrously shipwrecked.
Not delegating. Delegation is about entrusting your authority to others, so can be a bit scary. But it has very definite benefits. When you delegate, an impossible project can suddenly become “can-do”. It’s good for your staff too, helping them develop their abilities and leadership skills. You are responsible for the effectiveness of your group within the company. Delegation will help you demonstrate and increase that.
Not adapting. In uncertain times, playing safe is a no-no. While you may be tempted to stick to tried-and-true, consider the value of change. You can’t stop it, after all. Instead, aim to anticipate and prepare for it. Continually learn and experiment. If you don't adapt, you’re doomed to extinction, or at least insignificance. Keep positive, forward-looking and flexible.
Not accepting responsibility. Always carry the can for what happens under your guidance, the bad as well as the good. Being a manager means accountability for whatever happens.
Not relaxing. Work is a serious business. It’s precisely because of the responsibilities you carry that you must have a sense of humor and promote a working environment you and your staff enjoy working in. Treat your staff like the human beings they are, with friends and families and lives outside work. Ask about their weekend, Enjoy a bit of banter (but not David Brent style!). Your staff will respond most positively to a manager who brightens their working day.
Successful management is a 100% peoples job. That means making time to steer each member of your team to make the most meaningful and constructive contribution to your team’s success and, ultimately, to the overall success of your company. The more successful the team, the more successful the manager. It’s a quid pro quo situation.