Managers are supposed to know what they are doing, right? After all, they were hired or promoted to lead a department or a division. They were entrusted to manage people and processes in order to achieve organization goals. The problem is that managers are still humans, which means that they can make mistakes. In addition, some individuals are really not cut out to be in management. Unfortunately, this may not be apparent until they are actually in the job. Some errors can be avoided with schooling, skill, and experience. However, other problems may stem from unusual circumstances or simply from a lack of awareness. With that in mind, here are some of the top mistakes made by management.
Poor listening skills
Most people know that listening is important in every environment. However, that doesn’t mean that managers are good at it and by the time they become supervisors, they may feel like they have enough skill to do the job. Compounding the problem is the reality that employees may be afraid to say to their boss, “You know, you aren’t a very good listener.” Genuine listening is more than hearing. Listening means that the person truly tries to hear the value of the message, and has the humility to admit that others may have a better perspective on a certain situation. The best managers are those individuals who are aware that they do not know everything and are secure enough with themselves to hear feedback from their employees and co-workers.
Promises, promises, promises
Another mistake that managers make is putting forth promises that are either vague or cannot be met over time. A classic promise is telling employees that if they work hard, everyone will “benefit” through the expansion of the business. In some cases this may be true, but hard work from individual people is not necessarily going to lead to direct revenue in their pocket. This doesn’t mean that employees should slack off, but it does mean that managers should be careful what they promise their employees. In addition, some supervisors struggle with conflict. Therefore, if an employee brings a concern, a manager may make a promise to their worker that they cannot meet. Bosses should be careful that they do not write checks that cannot be cashed.
Talking down to the employee
Unfortunately, some managers forget what it is like to be an employee. In addition, they may forget that the workers actually know a few things themselves. Therefore, managers may make the mistake of talking down to their employees and explaining things in very simple terms. Supervisors are charged with providing leadership and training, but that doesn’t mean that they should restrict their teachings to vague ideas that they read in the latest management book. Employees may not know everything, but they certainly don’t want to be told obvious concepts that are clearly known by everyone and do not help with the work at hand. Some bosses make the mistake of assuming that they always need to have something profound to say. When nothing comes to mind, they may default to general ideas that are not particularly helpful or insightful.
Communication from management can be a delicate balancing act. Some supervisors and management teams make the mistake of keeping people in the dark because they are afraid of conflict or that they will not be able to present the entire picture. Unfortunately, there may never be a time when the entire picture is available. Other individuals and groups make the mistake of sending out emails and memos on a nearly constant basis. This can lead to an environment where people must spend hours each day sifting through a stack of emails in which everyone was copied and multiple people felt compelled to “reply to all.”
Finally, managers can make the mistake of trying too hard to create a particular environment in the workplace. Those that understand their employees and are able to establish a genuine rapport do not have to force a sense of team or an atmosphere of fun. Unfortunately, some managers do not communicate well with their employees, so they attempt to develop a sense of unity through gimmicks, awkward social situations, and strange team-building exercises. It may be admirable that the supervisor is trying, but more than anything a boss has to possess awareness of their environment. Without awareness, a manager may continue to make the same mistakes over and over again without realizing that they are failing as a supervisor.