8 Common Mistakes Managers Make
For many team leaders, managing people doesn’t seem like a priority – it’s ongoing, it’s tiresome, it’s uncertain, and going after the business just seems more intuitive. You want to get out there and meet customers and create awesome products and bring exciting new opportunities through your front door. So, the last thing you want to worry about is managing people. But is the right attitude? Yes, it seems like managing people will require you to put in a lot of effort and resources, but a good and balanced effort in this direction, you are likely to multiply the business. As quoted by Steve Jobs – ‘It’s not about the money. It’s about the people you have and how you’re led’.
Most new managers learn the basic do’s and don’ts quickly – like resisting the urge to brag about how experienced you are and encouraging your employees to suggest new ideas.
But some mistakes are subtle and easily overlooked, much less correct. These are the ones that can throw you off before you even get going because they’re so obvious, no one tells you about them.
Based on our experiences of training mid and senior team leader, time and again, we have come across some really common mistakes that are being made and here are 8 of them that you can easily avoid. Your team and organisation will benefit immensely if you introspect on the following aspects:
1. Not customising your supervisory style
It’s a survival of the fittest game. Because you are in a leadership position now, doesn’t mean that you will remain an effective manager forever. This is why many managers become followers throughout the course of their careers. Effective leadership is recognising that everybody is different; they come in with different experiences and have different levels of competency and development. So, the one-style-fits-all approach will not work, even if you lead a very large team. This requires consistently being mindful of your work, along with making quick, smart decisions, and keeping the broader vision of the company in mind at the same time.
2. Not taking into consideration the impact of a decision
So often we hear of companies taking the wrong decision after wrong decision before they have gone too far to stop the downward spiral. When it’s so apparent to us, wouldn’t it be to people who are living the situation day in and day out? Challenging choices will keep coming up, such as – what direction to move the company in; whether to keep an employee, reposition them or let them go; whether or not to share ‘bad news’ with investors, and many other such challenges. But when you’re so caught in, sometimes emotions blind you. Not every leader automatically makes good decisions. A good manager has to constantly review the choices he or she makes; balance emotion with reason and make decisions that positively impact themselves, their employees, their customers and stakeholders, and their organisations. Managers also have to move quickly and proceed with the available information, versus deciding when to take more time and gather additional information. This includes knowing when to pull the plug on ideas as well, to limit the damage goes hand in hand with long-term vision.
3. Failing to recognise that employees may have conflicting priorities and deadlines
You may have a very efficient employee who is your go-to for critical turnarounds. But, before passing on the work on them are you seeing if they have other conflicting priorities and deadlines? Are you relying too much on one employee to meet your targets? Many employees will have other priorities. Most people will be aware of how much of a mess this can be. Some things aren’t done. Some are delayed. Some are late. Some are rushed, and quality suffers. None of which is really acceptable. As a manager, you must keep close track of this. As an employee, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes the priorities aren’t up to you. They’re decided by management, and you have to fit in keeping your other work up to date. And sometimes you set the priorities to fit your own performance requirements. Time management is the key to operating multiple tasks and handling conflicting priorities.
4. Not managing conflicts
This can never be reiterated enough. Besides keeping your composure, finding a middle ground, being respectful and all of the other things that go with managing conflicts effectively, I stress that you have to choose your battles. Be aware of the root cause, and whether your involvement is actually a value addition. You may not have the time or the energy to manage all conflicts that arise in the workplace. Having said that, don’t also be under the impression that conflicts within the team or between you and the team will evaporate by themselves. Think about how important the issue is before you decide if you’re going to participate in resolving the issue or not. You should also not let your emotions come into play during a conflict because, at the end of the day, the work is for the company, not you.
5. Ineffective delegation of work
This is not the same as just allocating work. Delegating a task doesn’t mean that it isn’t your responsibility anymore. Although you may have explained the task in great detail, it doesn’t guarantee the task will be completed as per your expectations. You have to give them the right instructions in the first place, and keep monitoring the progress and ask for regular updates. This helps ensure the employee is on the right track. And, you can also step in early if there are any errors or mistakes. Nipping it in the bud avoids wastage of time, energy, and resources. That said, you should always try to strike a balance between monitoring and supporting. You need to give people enough freedom to use their abilities to the best effect.
6. Not being able to identify the real problem
To solve a problem effectively you have to first identify it. Sometimes, managers undervalue employees, or there’s a communication failure between management and employees, leading to unclear goals and uncertain returns. Every organisation has problems in how it manages its business. But not every organisation works to recognise and correct those problems. Recognising patterns is hard. Managers often address the symptom and not the root cause. So the problem keeps emerging. We have to go back to the drawing board and be without bias. A good question to ask yourself while making such choices is: Is it my ego? Or is it my higher self? This allows you to take a step back, and take a holistic decision.
7. Not managing productivity
Often the focus is on doing more rather than how to do more. A focus on the processes of how to get more work done will benefit you far more. Focusing on simply increasing the output by working on shorter deadlines, more strict key result areas for employees etc. only promotes working under fear of losing one’s job. This leads to a negative work environment and will result in attrition, burnout, and a poor work culture reputation. Instead, helping your employees along, and ensuring their work is done and targets are met through effective productivity-enhancing processes is a better way to go. For example, reducing multitasking, more collaborative work with other teams, better communication and coordination on leave etc. are simple processes that build more trust in employees.
8. Offering the same motivation to all
Some people want to praise, some people want raises, some people work best with a healthy work-life balance, some like to see their growth path. Every employee has different personal goals for their job and career. As a manager, it is your duty to find this out about the team members, and offer the best motivation and incentive to them that will help them grow along with your organisation. One size cannot fit all.
Often, it’s the simple mistakes that keep you back. And being effective is a great challenge. It begins with recognising mistakes and looking within. If managers can’t reinvent themselves, then it will be difficult for them to help reinvent their organisations, employees and corporate strategy. When you stop reinventing you become irresponsible to the people you serve as well as your own career growth. A manager who doesn’t constantly reinvent gets stuck in ruts – or they find themselves changing their career path too many times without a specific destination in mind. This makes it challenging to create and sustain momentum and they eventually become difficult to hire in any leadership capacity.
Making the move to manage a team isn’t just a step, for many, it’s a giant leap. What’s got you here won’t get you there. You’ve got to keep moving and learning!
At Yellow Spark, we develop and implement tailor-made leadership programmes for better organisational performance. To know more please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.