Top Tips To Avoid Management Mistakes

If you can show me one manager who has never made a mistake I can show you someone who has never lived and who is almost certainly fibbing.

We all make mistakes – children learn through experience that making mistakes is part of the transition to adulthood. In just the same way managers learn from often bitter experience too that mistakes shape our management style and we become more proficient at this Art with time.

The most important things to focus upon is that we actually accept the learning experience we are being offered and then ensure that the same error is not repeated!

So what real howlers might we make and how can we avoid them?

Not Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is a bit of a problem as few managers like giving negative feedback or feedback which we know will be challenging for the recipient. This is a very common problem at all levels of management and failing to do this prevents the employee from developing their skills further and it limits the productivity of the organisation. To combat this be bold and brave and give regular, systematic and structured feedback on performance however difficult or uncomfortable it might be. Otherwise the problem you have now will only grow.

And grow. And grow.

Not Making Time for Your Team

You have your own job and your own targets but this also involves careful stewardship of your team. If the team fails you have failed – no getting away from it. People are the one resource in a management system that cannot be programmed or put into a routine in a way that production machinery can for example.

The team needs your time and input as a means to set targets and provide guidance. Your poor investment in time and support mean weak and erratic results from them.

Schedule regular and agreed time to meet both individuals and the wider team to keep all informed and on track.

Being too remote

Nobody wants either to be micro managed or to be accused of being a micro-manager but an equally terrible sin is that of just not being there for staff and being effectively a “laissez faire” manager by not getting involved.

A totally hands-off style seriously disrupts good working practices – you must take time to reflect on what is the correct balance and check regularly that you are delivering this.

Being too friendly

We all prefer to be liked as a general rule (although a small minority actually like to be disliked – I’ve worked for a few of those! Whilst generating a positive, even jovial atmosphere makes for a happy working environment this can be a problem when you are trying to make difficult and unpopular decisions involving those who like you perhaps a little too much.

Strike a correct balance between being a friend and a manager  – getting this wrong only leads to difficult time and much angst.

Not being clear on targets

Someone without a goal or a target of any kind is a lost person. To go through your work without an anchor or a target makes for a long working day! We muddle on without any purpose and an eight-hour day quickly feels like eighty. Targets give a focus for being productive and allows for prioritisation so that the really important tasks get attention and are completed in the right order. Set the direction, provide resources and then set the targets – the key components of running a successful team!

Misunderstanding Motivation

A good manager will have a clear idea of what motivates their team so that they are able to press the right buttons at key points in time to get the response they need. This is never about the financial rewards on offer – money is a poor and ineffective means by which to motivate anyone – it lies more in inexpensive job rotation and enlargement. Try achievement, recognition, additional responsibility and praise    – vary the use of these tools and reap the rewards.

Recruit in haste, repent at leisure

History is littered with examples of organisations and managers who have recruited at great speed to fill what was, at the time, a position that really needed filling. Rapid, machine gun recruiting creates absolute mayhem and results in the wrong people becoming an integral part of the team.

Such employees slow down progress, they are uncooperative, inefficient, disruptive and a serious drain on resources. They will also probably sabotage the good work already completed, either by their design or by their incompetence. Better to not recruit at all than recruit badly.

Deal a strong role model

Be careful to be a solid and reliable role model; what you do your team will copy and use as a behavioural norm for the future. Arriving at work late or systematically leaving early send a disastrous signal to the team that such behaviour is normal and that this will not get challenged. When you do challenge this expect nothing better than harsh criticism from them!

Remember people are brilliant at people watching. Bear this in mind at all times! If you want to shape the behaviour and attitudes of the team best begin with your own.

Not Delegating

Some managers will not delegate as they feel that no-one apart from themselves can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around them, and as they become stressed and burned out. Unless you develop good delegation skills you will never rise above the mass of jobs that you are doing and both develop yourself or see the bigger picture.

Failure to delegate will also burn you out and your stress levels will soar, seriously jeopardising both your health and career prospects.

 Misunderstanding Your Role

Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities are very different from those you had before. Make sure that you understand your new role and avoid, at all costs, the temptation to revert back into the role you have left behind just because it feels comfortable and a safety blanket. This is especially true of technical staff promoted into a management job where the skill set and expectations are challenging and uncomfortable.

Mistakes are a fact of life; we all make them, we will make them, we will continue to make them and our team members will make them. The point here, above all, is not to become paralysed by the fear of the mistake but to learn from them and modify future behaviour. Managers who make mistakes and learn from them become successful and respected managers.

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