25 simple management mistakes you might not realise you’re making

How to be a better manager by avoiding these mistakes

Did you know that 65% of employees would take a new boss over a pay raise? Or that three out of four people count their bosses as the worst and most stressful part of their jobs?

These alarming statistics offer some serious room for improvement. But there’s good news, too. The most common management mistakes are not as complicated as they seem. With some easy fixes, you can shift your approach as a manager, becoming a kick-ass boss while nurturing employee success.

1. Not Getting to Know Your Staff

Reaching out to employees to learn about their goals, strengths and personal lives sets a strong foundation for your working relationship. Forbes even suggests getting a sweet jar — it will make you and your desk more approachable to your direct reports.

2. Putting Customers Above Employees

Sir Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of Virgin, suggests putting employees above customers. As Branson said, “If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile.”

3. Failing to Delegate

A lot of managers take on extra work rather than passing down challenging tasks. By delegating, you increase accountability and prioritise your responsibilities in a healthy way.

4. Accidental Favouritism

Did you ever have a teacher who always picked a favorite? Bringing out the best in your employees requires an even playing field — so, keep it neutral!

5. Limiting Your Management Style

Create a dialogue with each individual about how they prefer to communicate about their successes and challenges. Adapt your management style to your staff’s personalities to maximise your effectiveness.

6. Not Clarifying Jargon

When you’re immersed in industry jargon, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what you’re talking about. Define every term that the average person would not understand.

7. Downplaying Humour

In one study, 93% of polled employees said that laughter reduced work-related stress. Humor is a stress-buster, humaniser and a catalyst for creative thinking. Keep it tasteful and add a smile.

8. Unintentionally Withholding Information

Every time your boss sends you an email with information relevant to your team, pass it along. You can even copy or paste important updates to a weekly email to forward on to your staff.

9. Going to Every Company Meeting

Make sure to place your most important tasks above peripheral meetings that have little to do with your team. Setting this precedent gives you the time to do your job well, rather than contributing to the common habit of overextending yourself.

10. Looking at Email on Vacation

White-collar workers spend over half their day managing email and incoming information, which causes mental congestion that stifles productivity over time. Give yourself and your employees the opportunity to clear out mental gunk with email-free weekends and vacations.

11. Resisting Change

Companies are shifting the way that they manage employees, releasing traditional models for more flexible approaches to the workplace. Instead of resisting positive change, spark innovation with mini-experiments in management like four-day work weeks, remote opportunities and team trips.

12. Never Taking a Sick Day

According to a study conducted by NSF International, 43% of Americans work while they are sick because they are scared of getting behind on their projects. By taking care of yourself, you remind employees to put their health (and that of their coworkers) first.

13. Forgetting the Importance of Gradual Progress

Employees work best when they feel a sense of progress toward meaningful goals. Recognising, not only accomplishments, but the small steps along the way contributes to a beneficial outcome for all.

14. Missing Out on Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Peer-to-peer recognition is an easy way to cultivate a supportive work environment. Tools like TINYpulse or Yammer include built in systems that allow coworkers to publicly thank each other for going above and beyond.

15. Not Advocating for Promotions

As a manager, you can judge your own success by the proportion of your staff that gets promoted. Make the effort to shine a light on your employee’s strengths when meeting with peers and higher-ups.

16. Checking Up Rather than Checking In

Theresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer said it best: “Effective managers establish themselves as resources, making sure to check in on employees while never seeming to check up on them.” Dismiss the temptation to micromanage in favour of offering your experience as a resource.

17. Not Practicing What You Preach

If you are trying to get your staff to come in early, be the first one there to greet them. If you want them to work toward manageable goals, make sure to meet your own benchmarks.

18. Skipping One-on-Ones

Weekly activities like scheduling and one-on-one meetings should never get lost in the shuffle. Create a list of non-negotiable activities and try to get them done at the beginning of the week.

19. Allowing Performance Issues to Fester

Performance issues may seem small at first: the sales guy who is a bit low on his numbers or the customer service representative who was rude on the phone. Addressing any issues first thing prevents discrepancies from becoming major problems.

20. Multitasking in Meetings

When you sit down for meetings with your staff, put away your phone. Other work emails can wait. Your team deserves your full attention.

21. Accepting Employee Dissatisfaction

Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory reminds managers that a great work environment does two things: it removes the obstacles that cause job dissatisfaction, and at the same time, cultivates positive attributes that bolster employees. (You need to do both!)

22. Using a Non-Authoritative Tone

Carol Kinsey Goman, an executive coach recommends keeping your voice low to project authority when you speak. She also suggests that while sharing your opinion, you, “use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.”

23. Losing Your Cool

Professional settings are the perfect places to practice mindfulness. When you feel yourself losing your cool, do one of the following:

● Take a few deep breaths
● Go for a short walk
● Write down your initial reaction

Giving yourself a break allows you to be responsive rather than reactive.

24. Not Acknowledging Big Accomplishments

According to Gallup polls, acknowledging your employees’ accomplishments increases productivity and decreases turnover. A simple congratulations and a note of praise go a long way.

25. Failing to Ask for Help

Set up regular meetings with your own boss and a work mentor as a proactive way to prevent big blow-ups. When you need help with a challenge, you will already have a regularly scheduled opportunity to get advice.

Each one of these simple management mistakes is an opportunity to tweak your style. By embracing opportunities to change, you’re modeling the ideal behaviours for your staff and employees.

Have you made any small management changes that had a big impact?

How top managers motivate and energise employees

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About the author

Chad Halvorson is the CEO of When I Work, an employee scheduling app that nearly half a million people in over 50 countries rely on for employee scheduling, time clock, and communication. When I Work uses an innovative blend of collaborative communication technologies, including the web, mobile apps, text messaging, social media, and email, to make teams more efficient, more accountable, and better prepared. Most traditional workforce management software is clunky, cumbersome and difficult to install and maintain. When I Work is a simple, intuitive, mobile-first solution that owners and managers can implement and start using in five minutes, not five months—no IT required. More blog posts by Chad Halvorson ››
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