Ten common mistakes managers make and how you can avoid them

Off topic a little this week, I’m going to look at the mistakes managers make (particularly when they’re in a new role) and how to avoid them. In my career I’ve been managing teams for almost two decades (and yes, I’ve made some of these mistakes), but even when you do make a mistake – and we all do – it’s important to learn from them and use that to be a better manager.

1. Don’t be too helpful – As the manager, it’s your role to get facilitate your team to do the work, not do it yourself. If you set clear expectations of your people in terms of what you need delivered and when, they will be able to deliver the work themselves.

2. Your way or the highway – there are plenty of ways to achieve successful outcomes. As long as you focus on that, on not on making your team follow a specific approach to achieving that outcome, your people will be happier and more productive.

3. Ask questions – as the boss you aren’t expected to know exactly what is going on all the time. Ask questions until you know what is going on. 

4. Blame your team – if something goes wrong, the worst thing you can do as the boss is point the finger at someone else. This is both in the eyes of your managers and your team. If something does go wrong, focus on the issue and how to fix it. 

5. Spread your attentions evenly – your productive team members deserve just as much of your time as the non-productive people (so they remain productive…). If you focus your attention on your people who are doing well the emergencies with the people who aren’t doing so well won’t take over.

6. Over-discipline – this can be a trap for new managers. If you’re feeling uncertain, it can be easy to over-discipline so you feel you’re in control or seen as strong in the eyes of your team. But all this will do is erode their respect for you. Don’t demand cooperation, earn it. When something goes wrong focus on the issue and what led to it happening, not the person responsible. If one of your team members have a weakness in an area, a training or development program can empower them to overcome the hurdle.

7. Do your onboarding yourself and do it well – this way new people receive the messages you want them to receive and they can observe the habits you believe are important to the performance and culture of your team. 

8. Walk around – management by walking around is essential. This ensures you don’t get out of touch (and is essential if you want to implement point seven effectively).

9. Neglect the numbers – as the manager, the numbers are with you. Manage by KPIs and not by opinion. And always know how your team is tracking against budget, forecast, KPIs etc 

10. Allow traffic to overwhelm you – as a manager a whole day can be spent putting out fires. It’s an essential element as you are a support to your team, but you need to dedicate at least 30% of your time to your team’s KPIs, planning and the bigger picture or you risk your division becoming irrelevant and project outcomes and deadlines slipping through your fingers.

Jason Maywald is a highly experienced legal and transactional advisor in the insurance and medical assistance sectors. He holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology, and has significant experience in competitive corporate acquisitions, IPOs, commercial property acquisitions and disposals, corporate restructures, and hostile and friendly takeovers.

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