Do You Make These 6 Management Mistakes?

Bad manager

Most companies don’t hand you a management no-no list when you move up the corporate ladder. Here are some blunders you really want to avoid.

The first time that I got the results to my 360° annual evaluation I nearly fell off my chair.

I had the HR Director staring at me across her desk and we were in a 2m² office with no windows.

It was June and hot. And it was about to get much hotter…

As she read out the anonymous comments from my direct reports, I couldn’t stop asking myself “Is this really me that they’re talking about?”

When I got home that night, I said to my husband: “I don’t want do this manager thing anymore. I’m trying very hard, but it’s clearly not working. I can’t understand what I’ve done wrong and what I should do differently!”

The whole thing mortified me for about two weeks. That’s a lot of lost sleep!

Over time, I’ve come to be a big fan of 360° evaluations and have taken away some valuable lessons:

First, people use it as an excuse to vent out their frustrations on you. Unfortunately, most people don’t provide constructive feedback and forget that managers are human beings with feelings.

That’s just a fact. So take the results with a pinch of salt.

But do see them as another opportunity to further develop your management skills. There will always be some truth, even if it is hard to accept. Focus on the takeaways.

Second, if an organisation uses 360° evaluations, then everyone –from the front desk assistant to the CEO- should be getting one. It’s just too easy to say that the Managing Director, Chairman, and all those highflyers don’t need to take one.

It takes a lot of guts to listen to your evaluation results. And everyone, regardless of their level and status, should be investing some time and effort in developing their skills, right?

So pat yourself on the back if everyone in your company gets one.

And question your HR department if those with important titles in the business don’t. That’s not a good sign.

6 Management Missteps To Watch Out For

I have been a lousy manager at times. Yes, I admit it.

But this wasn’t because I’m a mean person. No, I just didn’t know any better!

So here I share with you the most common mistakes that managers make. Those that I’ve made myself and those that I have seen in others.

If you catch yourself doing these, then you know it’s time for a change.

1. Manage your inbox, not your team. Ever had a meeting with your manager and he kept checking his screen every time that a new message popped up? Or he just had to look at that oh-so-important text message.

This is just plain rude and a waste of time for everyone involved.

A one-to-one meeting with your direct report (face-to-face, by phone or Skype) is always a fantastic opportunity to connect, check-in to see if everything is OK, exchange ideas, etc.

Focus on the person in front of you. Give them your undivided attention just like you’d like to receive it from your own boss.

2. Expect your direct report to be Mini-You. “I would never have said this (or done that, or asked for that) when I was her age”. Does this sound familiar?

I’ve fallen for this one too.

The chances are that you won’t hire your own clone to work for you. Making such statements just makes us sound like old-timers.

You wouldn’t want to be working with someone just like you all the time anyway, it would just get boring!

Get to know your direct report better and learn to work with them. Stop trying to fit them into a mold, it’s counterproductive.

3. Take credit for everything that goes well. This is something that I learnt from one of my bosses.

He said: “You are a great manager when you accept that your direct reports take all the credit for a project. It means you’ve managed and trained them well. Take pride in that”.

So true, and yet so many people have trouble letting their teams get the limelight.

4. Believe that family life and personal problems stay at home. At some point in your working life you are bound to experience difficult times at home: a bereavement, a divorce, a difficult pregnancy, a sick child, and so on.

People are human beings, they don’t leave their problems at home when they lock the front door to come to the office.

Grief, sadness, frustration and worry are emotions that take a lot of space in someone’s mind. Be understanding and be flexible.

This is not about being unprofessional, it is about being human.

If your direct report has done a stellar job for you until now, it is likely that they’ll do so again in the future.

Maybe one day you’ll be feeling down yourself. That’ll be the time when you’ll be glad to walk into the office and find understanding and supportive colleagues.

5. Pretend that, because you are the boss, you have answers to everything. You might be the most senior person around, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that you should know how to solve every single problem that pops up. You should, however, be able to anticipate problems!

Be transparent and say it when you don’t know something.

Ask your team for advice. They’ll appreciate getting involved and being part of the solution.

And, in any case, people aren’t fools, it just shows when you’re fibbing.

6. Think that promoting someone or giving them a pay rise will make them happy. Okay, it works in the short-term, but it is not always the best way to go.

Sometimes you need to dig deeper and understand why someone is frustrated. It is not always about status and money.

People value working in a fun environment, having interesting an job, feeling appreciated by colleagues, learning, and having a work life balance.

These elements should never be underestimated.

If someone is voicing their discontent, take the time to find the root cause of the problem. Otherwise, you’ll find your newly promoted direct report curdling the office environment again in a in a few months’ time.

What about you?

Have you come across any additional management slip-ups that should be on this list?

-          Laura

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