Managing others takes particular aspects of character, presentation and experience to do well. Sometimes, however, it is instructive simply knowing what not to do. Here are some of the most common mistakes managers make, wringing every drop of malaise and misery from what should be an energetic, collaborative workplace – as well as some tips for making things right.
Common mistakes managers make No. 1 – As clear as mud
If a manager is unable to deliver clear instructions, it becomes impossible for the group to work toward a satisfactory common goal. Employees without clearly defined goals are more prone to whiling away the hours in uncertainty. A manager who does not clearly communicate what is expected of subordinates is setting up his team to fail and is not fulfilling their own job requirements.
A manager who struggles to communicate clearly within the team environment would do well to make sure the following aspects are included in the team presentation:
- Clear project description, including resources, expected outcome, etc.
- Responsibilities – Who does what? Tasks should be clearly assigned
- Schedules – When must milestones occur?
- Objectives – What is the ultimate goal of the project, on a tangible level?
- Work sequence – How should work flow proceed?
- Repeat, rephrase, seek feedback – Make sure the team is fully on board before launch
Common mistakes managers make No. 2 – Assessing blame
If a team’s goals are not met, a manager should do so much more than assess blame, as that is the lazy way out. Analysis and correction are needed so that the problems of the past are not repeated. Provided no employee has worked to aggressively sabotage an operation, nobody should be thrown under the bus. A good manager takes responsibility rather than scapegoating. In the long run, managers who work with employees toward improvement are the ones worthy of peer respect.
Common mistakes managers make No. 3 – Entertaining the angry beast
The pressure to perform in the business world is high. Emotions will run high. However, managers who bottle up their feelings and only let them out in explosive attacks against co-workers will be kept on a short leash – or sent to the pound post-haste. Channeling emotion into creativity and a desire to improve the workplace dynamic, and perhaps even using a moment of anger to punctuate a key bullet point in a presentation, can actually inspire employees. Randomly lashing out can help put them into therapy. The happy medium is not overreaction and harsh attacks, but communication and funneling intense energy into more positive business pursuits.
Common mistakes managers make No. 4 – Being a buddy
Being the good guy over being a figure of guidance and authority doesn’t work for children or adult employees. It tears at the envelope of respect and creates factions that are detrimental to the best interests of the whole. Rather than being a “good guy” so that people will like him, a good manager must clearly define boundaries and model attitudes of respect, rather than that of being a bosom buddy.
Common mistakes managers make No. 5 – Lack of politeness
Employees who are self-starters will always be an asset to a company, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from a well-placed please and thank you now and again. Natural, unforced politeness goes a long way toward showing respect for others. Considering that most employees have some choice in where they work, barking orders and doing other things to dehumanize employees as mere resources – rather than people – is clearly a horrible idea for any management team. People who respect one another will work together more efficiently.