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How to avoid these common management mistakes

If your direct reports were asked what mistakes you make as a manager, what do you think they would say? As a manager, you probably know your strengths. However, it’s your weaknesses that may have the biggest impact on your people. Here are four common “epic management fails” and how to fix them.

1. Being a micromanager. Management, by its definition, means you need to supervise a multitude of activities to generate specific results. Since you are responsible, you might feel like you have to be involved in every detail to avoid failure. Signs that you’re a micromanager include the fact that you might feel like things don’t get done right if you don’t do them or it’s faster if you do it yourself.If you want to avoid being a micromanager, focus on the “manage” not the “micro”. Set the expectations of what you want accomplished and let your people determine how they will deliver the results. This means letting go of some of the details and even letting your people fail from time to time. When you empower people to truly own a project, you might be surprised to see new thinking and creative approaches that are even better than what you had in mind. More important, you’ll see ownership and passion in your people that you would never see as a micromanager.

2. Not providing clear direction. When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Although there may be constantly shifting priorities, your role as a manager is to interpret the company direction and clearly communicate it. Sometimes, it may require some judgement to filter some “noise” to keep your team focused. People need clearly defined priorities and expectations. If they don’t know what you expect or if initiatives are seen as a moving target, they will be frustrated and their performance will ultimately suffer.Help your team see the big picture by regularly talking about your vision for your department and how it fits into the company’s direction. In addition, help your people see how each initiative and each specific project fits into the overall plan. Based on your vision, set SMART objectives for your people. Communicating the vision will help them see how their work fits into the big picture and communicating the SMART objectives will provide framework for your people to do their best work to achieve the results you expect.

3. Not making time for your people. Your schedule is probably jam packed with meetings, emails and customers every day. Bad managers are always busy…doing things other than spending time with their people. Great managers always have time for their people.If you can’t imagine how you can find time to spend with your people, start scheduling time on your calendar every week. You can schedule everything from one-on-one update meetings, coaching sessions, departmental meetings to “walking around” time. And then, stick to your calendar. Make each person feel important by keeping your scheduled meetings and being available when they need to talk, instead of being in a hurry. Your people will be more motivated, confident and creative in their problem solving when they have access to you to discuss strategies, ideas and progress. Also, spending more time with your people also helps you better assess their skills and development opportunities.

4. Not giving feedback. According to a poll by The Ken Blanchard Companies, not giving feedback is the most common mistake managers make. It’s not enough to say “good job” to your team or individual when things go well. Beneficial feedback requires much more thought, preparation and insight.Giving feedback can be stressful, especially if it is critical. But being a good manager is not just about giving critical feedback. According to a recent study by the Harvard Business School, positive feedback is as important and impactful as corrective feedback. Managers studied gave more weight to the value of negative feedback while direct reports and subordinates viewed managers that gave both positive and negative feedback as more effective managers.The key to giving feedback is to be honest and specific. If you want feedback to be positively received, make it a positive experience for your employee. Also, be timely with your feedback. It’s important that employees hear right away when they have handled something in a positive way or if they could have handled it differently. And, give specific feedback, both positive and corrective, regularly.It’s not easy to be a manager. You are not only managing a business, but you’re managing people that build the business. Avoiding these management mistakes can make you a more effective manager every day.




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