This article wasn’t easy to write. The mistakes you see listed below? I’ve either made them myself, or have worked under those who have.
Becoming a manager is the secret dream of many ambitious white-collar employees. But in my opinion, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.
With management comes a certain amount of power. Unfortunately, some people enjoy the power too much. They abuse it or, worse, they use it to promote themselves rather than their people.
Successful management means mentoring and guiding each member of your team to make the most meaningful and constructive contribution to the company’s success.
If I could change the American work culture in one fell swoop, I would change the way companies train their managers. And come annual review time, I’d skew the weight of Team Management to account for at least 70% of their total performance score.
In fact, I don’t think I would grade managers on their accomplishments, but rather on the management mistakes they didn’t make. Like these:
1. Being too nice
I like a boss who’s friendly. But not too. I need to work for someone whom I can respect and learn from. Someone who will defend my team with authority and make those tough, unpopular decisions.
If my boss is too nice, works too hard to be “one of the gang,” he or she is going to lose respect and get taken advantage of— by employees, colleagues, and leaders throughout the company. It’s just a fact of life.
Sure, it’s great that you are friendly with your staff. It’s necessary. But, you do need to find the balance right between being fun and being the boss.
2. Failure to delegate
All successful managers should learn how to delegate. If you are having difficulty letting go of work that could be delegated to others, it could be because you’re afraid of stepping up, and into, your new leadership role.
That’s ok — it’s totally normal to go through this phase!Give yourself a little time to adjust.
However, if you continue to gravitate to, refuse to let go of, or nitpick over the lower-level tasks at hand, you do yourself a disservice and you send a message to your staff: I don’t trust you to do it the right way.
Practice letting go and delegating. You’ll find it’s as much an exercise for your team as it is for you. You’ll also find that it’s worth it.
3. Not providing positive feedback
American workers appreciate money. Making good money is important. But, every good and conscientious employee needs to hear that they are valued. And not just with a paycheck.
While giving positive feedback is such a simple task, it can be the hardest for managers and companies to do. If this is an area you think you could work on, start with a simple email to each member of your team, “I just want you to know you’re doing a great job and that your work is appreciated,” and discover what a difference it makes.
4. Not leading by example
With management comes the responsibility of being a role model.
You may feel like letting off steam with your employees: Cracking wise about upper management or expressing your disdain for the CEO’s recent reorganization proposal.
But you can’t. You undermine your credibility and lose the respect of others. You’ve got to stay in character.
Successful leaders “walk the walk.” They set boundaries, they act professional, they stay positive and avoid mud-slinging. By demonstrating consistent professionalism, you become a role model and inspiration for your team.
5. Failure to define roles
This seems to happen more often with big companies than with the smaller ones.
When you blur the lines between people’s roles, you create anarchy and scope creep.
When one team member’s responsibilities bleed into another’s you end up with duplicated work, wIf you want to maintain morale and keep a sharp focus on productivity, set clear roles and responsibilities for each member on your team. And enforce them with consistency.
6. Inability to confront
The best way to correct behavior is to address it on the spot.
So, if you overhear a member of your team screaming at her boyfriend on the phone, don’t slink away.
Call her into your office that same day and have a very frank conversation. And make it clear — in no uncertain terms — that this behavior will stop, immediately.
Confrontation is tough. Especially for managers who are shy or introverted. Yet it’s an absolutely critical component of the job. A successful manager does not store away legitimate concerns and slip them into an employee’s written annual review. Successful managers give immediate guidance and feedback.
With the right balance of compassion and discipline, you can turn an uncomfortable encounter into a positive and enlightening discussion. It’s a win-win!
7. Making the wrong hire
During the times I was a manager, I was blessed with good instincts and intuition. Say what you will about me, I can read people.
But not everyone can. Plus, these days, we all feel the pressure to make a quick hire. If we don’t act quickly, the true rock stars will get snapped up by our competitors.
So of course, if you interview a rock star, and know this to be true in every molecule of your body, do make the hire.
However, if your gut is telling you “this guy’s good, but he’s not great” — stop right there. Don’t make a move. Talk with your team and your human resources department. Consider taking a few weeks to repost and, perhaps, rewrite the job description.
You can always put your current candidates on hold; if you’re not totally smitten with any one of them, you’re not going to be too upset if they take jobs elsewhere.
Meanwhile, you dodge a potential bullet, and take the necessary time needed to find the best person for the job.
8. Not communicating with your team
If you are determined to advance your career, you can’t do it alone. You need a dedicated and loyal team behind you— a staff willing to bend over backward to boost the credibility, respect, and authority you earn from upper management.
The least you can do is give back. Like you, the members of your team want to get ahead. So help them get there by sharing what you can from meetings, conferences, and discussions they are not privy to.
The more you share, the more you empower your staff with keen knowledge and understanding. Your honesty will go a long way toward enhancing loyalty and inspiring an even deeper desire to make you look good.
One of your many responsibilities as a manager is to groom your employees.
If you do it right, at least one of them will be well poised to take your place when you get promoted. Great managers work hard to develop successors who can step into their shoes, and even though they may make management mistakes, they aren’t afraid to learn from them!
Is there a memorable management mistake you’ve made in the past and learned from? Share it in the comments below!