Especially where small businesses are concerned, even the best managers make mistakes.
Today, we’re going to talk about the blunders that are made more often than any other — and how you can avoid making them yourself.
You take a lot of pride in your management position. As you should — leadership isn’t something just anybody can do. You’ve been trusted to help guide the careers of an entire group of people, maybe even an entire department.
And you know you’re more than up to the task.
But you aren't perfect. Nobody is. And all any of us can do is strive constantly to be better. For most of us, that starts with knowing where we might go wrong.
Every manager is a little different, with different strengths and weaknesses. But there are certain blunders that tend to be common amongst all management professionals. Have a read through and see if you’ve stumbled your way into any of them yourself.
1. Being Too Interested in How They Work
You’re proud to be a leader. Proud to guide the decisions of your team and teach them how to thrive. But you need to be careful that this pride doesn’t end up becoming an obsession.
While it’s certainly fine to offer your workers a bit of advice every now and then, be careful that you aren’t always hovering over them and trying to tell them how to do their jobs. Trust in their own competency, aptitude, and expertise. They were hired for a reason, after all — and micromanaging them will only prevent them from reaching their fullest potential.
2. Ignoring Accountability
A good manager knows that people should be congratulated for their successes but also held accountable for their mistakes.
A poor manager either avoids addressing team blunders or sees nothing but problems with employees. Neither approach is healthy, and neither makes for a particularly great workplace.
In addition to holding people accountable for their mistakes, you need to ensure you’re accountable for yours. Be honest and open when you make a mistake and candid about what you’ll do to be better moving forward.
By that same vein, when one of your team errs, be respectful when explaining to them what they did wrong and how they can do better next time.
Don’t just assign blame. That’s not what accountability is about.
Accountability is about setting clear, realistic, and measurable expectations, and providing constructive feedback to people who fall short of those expectations. More importantly, it’s about doing what’s necessary to support your team in their performance.
Of course, sometimes employees will fail even if you do everything in your power to support their performance. If that becomes a regular problem, document the issue. Without documentation, you can, in the worst-case scenario, find yourself facing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
3. Failing to Properly Train New Hires
Some people prefer to learn by doing. They love being tossed right into the line of fire and picking things up as they go. The rest of us much prefer to be thoroughly trained in what our job entails as well as the company's culture — and to have access to support documentation when we need it.
As a manager, you shouldn’t ever allow employee training to take a backseat to the rest of your duties. Provide every new hire with the tools they need to grow and thrive, and they will, in turn, invest more in your company. It can be tempting to rush through the training process, given all the other stuff you’ve got on your plate, but that’s something you should never do.
To that end, there are plenty of techniques you can use, from in-person training to mobile apps to 1-on-1 coaching. The most important thing, though? Remember that everyone learns at a different pace.
When reasonable, give your employees the time they need to process what you’re teaching them — because otherwise, you might as well not be training them at all.
4. Neglecting Professional Boundaries
There’s nothing wrong with being friendly with your team — as a matter of fact, I’d say you should be personable towards them. But there’s a fine line between being fun to work for and being so familiar it makes people uncomfortable. At the end of the day, remember that keeping things professional is more important than anything else.
What I’m trying to say here is that you should be careful about inviting your team to private parties, family events, and personal dinners — and you should definitely establish a rapport of some kind before engaging in any office banter.
That said, professional boundaries are definitely a little hazier than they used to be. Thanks to smartphones and social media, people are now more connected than ever. Socialization is simpler, more streamlined, and more frequent than it’s ever been.
So how do you toe the line?
Just act with self-awareness. Don’t tell stories that would verge on too personal — it’s fine to talk about your family and friends, but you should probably avoid the yarn about how drunk you got at your last family reunion. More importantly, take an interest in your employee’s personal lives, but don’t pry for information.
If they want to tell you about themselves, they will — it’s your job to listen, not be nosy.
5. Improper Delegation
Just as micromanagement is tied to a lack of trust in employees, so too is failing to delegate to them at all.
Good managers understand that their job isn't to do everything. Consistently taking on too much responsibility isn't smarter or more impressive. It leads to lower output, mistakes, and potential health problems.
Your job is to focus on the important stuff, like business analysis, planning, and strategy. It's also to ensure the tasks you're responsible for are completed — even if you're unable to do them yourself.
More importantly, proper delegation allows you to invest in the people working under you. When workers feel you trust them with important tasks, they feel better about their jobs. Not only are they excited to develop new skills that make them more valuable, they feel the work they’re doing matters more. And that increases their loyalty and willingness to invest in the company.
So set obtainable, defined goals for your team and watch them thrive.
Nobody’s perfect — even the most skilled managers sometimes make mistakes. The difference between a good manager and a great one is knowing where you can go wrong. Mind you, the above list isn’t a comprehensive one, but it’s enough to get you started.
The rest is up to you.
The advice we share on our blog is intended to be informational. It does not replace the expertise of accredited business professionals.
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