Management is hard. It’s a daily and intentional effort needed to keep the people machine running effectively. While we seek to do our jobs flawlessly, our biggest opportunity is to learn from our most common mistakes. Below are ten of the most common mistakes we oftentimes make in management:
As a manager, we should be leading our teams like we are trying to make our own job obsolete. Wouldn’t we all prefer to have a team that is bringing and implementing solutions to problems, instead of creating the problems?
Next Step: Clearly communicate and delegate a task, and then leave the team or employee to do it.
2. Giving Awkward and Ineffective Feedback
All awkward and ineffective feedback is never intentional, but we’ve all had those moments when we have come across as dismissive, passive aggressive, or distracted when we are trying to communicate, deliver praise, or give criticism.
Next Step: Process the words you want to say in a future conversation with an employee. Think through the key points and goals of the conversation; write them down if necessary.
3. Rejecting and Ignoring Ideas
Remember those times when our voice, ideas, or passions were not heard or understood, but rather ignored or laughed at? It hurt. Whether it is the worst or best idea, we have to value and acknowledge the idea and the person. It is easy to want to move on to the better idea, but refusing to listen through an idea will only lose engagement and productivity from our teams.
Next Step: During a future conversation or meeting, make a clear statement about who is making the final decision and what kinds of ideas are needed.
4. Gossiping and Backfeeding Information
It’s lonely at the top, which makes us prone to share information we shouldn’t because we just wanted someone to talk to. However, the way we gossip and share information or opinions may leave employees questioning their communication and relationship with us and cause them to compare with others.
Next Step: Think through the consequences of the information you want to share. If you’re being irrational, take a walk or write out your thoughts.
5. Lacking in Clarity
Lack of clarity leads to confusion. Confusion leads to chaos. Choas leads to (fill in the blank). A few words could used could be turnover, toxicity, or injury. Regardless of the phrase, chaos leads to something not ideal, harmful, or disruptive, and not the positive culture we all want for our organizations.
Next Step: Give context and always explain the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. For example, don’t only assign a task to an employee, but take the time to explain why and the impact it will have or the long-term.
6. Choosing Sides
It’s not about who is right, but what is right. It’s easy to pick a favorite or for employees to feel like we are choosing a person versus the idea or action. We have to be diligent to remain neutral and understanding of all parties.
Next Step: Focus attention on the behaviors and not the people.
7. Taking Credit, but Giving Blame
We have the title ‘manager’, ‘boss’, ‘supervisor’, and our supervisors are looking for us to bring them answers and be solving problems. This causes us to be selfish with the good ideas and hesitate to let the bad ideas or blame leave the room. However, effective managers absorb blame and distribute credit while also holding people accountable.
Next Step: Be cautious of accolades, and make sure the team understands them.
8. Never Treating People Like People
We once heard from a lawyer that “I could keep 98% of my clients out of the court if they would just treat their people like people.” While documentation and babysitting may get us somewhere, treating people like people will get us further and away from a courtroom.
Next Step: Be cautious of documentation. It is helpful and absolutely critical for human resources purposes, but if there is too much focus on the documentation or a constant threat of writing someone up, engagement levels will drop. Managing through a policy is only helpful to an extent.
9. Not Listening
We all like to think we are great listeners, but we are oftentimes selective and miss the things we should be listening for. This mistake is detrimental to our employee engagement. People leave their boss, not their job, and feeling disrespected and unheard are two easy reason to leave.
Next Step: Have an intentional conversation with an employee that you haven’t checked on in a while. Ask them specific questions and listen.
10. Not Walking the Talk
It’s not fair to hold ourselves or favorite employees to different standards. When we fail to hold the line equally, we lose trust, profitability, and productivity, and potentially cause safety issues.
Next Step: Set a clear expectation with your team.
Again, management is hard and requires intention. To motivate and manage employees, we have to encourage and help employees work within their strengths, work towards a clear and common purpose, and give them the autonomy to solve their own problems and tackle workload. When we rid ourselves of these common mistakes, we are able to take steps towards better performance, productivity, and profitability.