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10 common mistakes made by managers

There be trouble ahead: 10 common mistakes made by managers

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Whether they’re in charge of a whole organisation or just one team, managers and other business leaders have a lot of responsibilities to juggle and a whole host of skills to master, like conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. 

And unless you’ve been fortunate enough to undergo some absolutely comprehensive management training, chances are that you’ve had to figure out your own approach at least some of the time. 

So, if you’re a current or would-be manager looking to fill some gaps in your understanding, keep reading to find out what common mistakes made by managers you should strive to avoid.

1: Failing to provide frequent feedback

For employees, constructive feedback is the backbone of their personal development.

But one of the most common mistakes made by managers is failing to deliver feedback in a timely manner is going to seriously hamper their ability to improve.

If you’ve been making do with an annual performance review, then you need to seriously consider implementing more regular forms of feedback between reviews, such as an employee check-in and scheduled 1:1s to work in tandem.

2: Not listening to employee feedback

You might assume that, because you’re the boss, your opinion is the only one that matters.

But failing to listen to employees is a clear sign of a bad manager, and one that your staff are liable to pick up on quickly.

Feedback processes aren’t just for telling staff members how to do their jobs better. They’re also for monitoring employee sentiment and wellbeing, as well as identifying problems with workplace culture and obstacles to performance.

So, the next time you check in with your employees, ask questions about their experience in the workplace.

3: Micromanaging

There’s nothing wrong with wanting your employees to do a good job. But it’s important to make sure you’re not breathing down the backs of their necks while they do it.

One of the biggest contributors to workplace stress is a lack of control over how you do your work. Of course, as a manager, sometimes it’s your job to make sure the projects that you hand out are on track to do what they’re supposed to.

But if you’re constantly demanding progress updates and vetoing the decisions of your employees, that frustration is going to build up. Of all the common mistakes by managers on this list, micromanagement is one of the quickest ways around to tank employee morale.

4: Being too hands-off

If you’re trying to avoid micromanaging, just make sure that you don’t course-correct too hard. While it’s great to give employees room to make the sorts of decisions their jobs should entail, don’t forget that they’re still looking to you for direction.

It’s not uncommon for employees to be unclear on some aspect of their responsibilities, especially if they’re new to the role. So, as their boss, it’s your responsibility to set clear expectations on each project you assign, and to make yourself accessible to your team in case they need guidance.

5: Not establishing a relationship of trust

If you’re the kind of manager who can’t help but view their relationship with their employees as adversarial, then you’re doomed to work against yourself.

Managers should make sure their employees are engaging with their roles and working hard, but you’re not their prison warden.

Not being able to trust your employees makes your job infinitely harder, as you have no ability to delegate reliably. And remember, trust (or a lack thereof) goes both ways. So, if you never give your team even an inch of trust, you can expect them to respond in kind.

6: Forgetting to view employees as people

While a company’s bottom line is important, managers who struggle to see anything else can cause a lot of issues in the workplace.

It would be nice if forgetting that employees are people wasn’t one of the more common mistakes made by managers, but it’s often one of the major driving forces behind burnout and turnover.

Not treating your employees like people means that you’ll inevitably fail to protect their wellbeing.

Whether that’s allowing a culture of presenteeism to flourish, dismissing physical or mental health concerns, or not taking your team’s financial wellbeing into consideration when determining raises, this is the kind of behaviour that needs to be curbed if you want to decrease staff attrition.

7: Not taking responsibility

A good manager shares in both the successes and failures of their employees. But it’s the second part of that which some bosses seem to struggle with. It’s down to you to assign the right people to the right projects, and to intervene if someone is struggling.

Sometimes, things will be down to a chance mistake by one employee, but just as often, there are ways that bosses could have managed their teams more effectively. One of the more common mistakes made by managers is to react to negative situations by assigning blame. But employees often follow the lead of their managers, so if you never take responsibility when things go wrong, don’t expect them to, either.

8: Not responding to problems in a timely manner

While it can often be due to the hectic nature of managing a large number of employees, this entry on our list of common mistakes made by managers is still a problem that needs to be addressed.

Being able to react promptly to problems in your workplace requires effective communication and high level of awareness about employee sentiment and engagement.

This is another reason why it’s important to check in with your staff regularly, and why this issue is likely to be much more prevalent in companies that still rely on annual performance reviews.

9: Asking things of your employees that you don’t expect of yourself

“Do as I say, and not as I do” might roll off the tongue well, but it’s a terrible management philosophy.

Employees are very good at picking up on workplace double standards, which we’ll be talking about more in our next point.

Sometimes, we need to ask employees to go the extra mile. Just how receptive they’ll be to that depends almost entirely on your rapport as a manager. If you’re the kind of manager who demands their team works overtime while personally stepping out at 5:30 on the dot, then it’s going to really impact morale.

But if you model the kind of behaviour you want to see, then employees are much more likely to follow suit.

10: Getting involved in social politics and picking favourites

Getting to know your employees is vital, and it definitely helps if you can have a laugh with them. And, of course, you’re always going to naturally get on with some people more than others.

But as a manager, past a certain point, you need to be above it all, no matter how juicy the gossip is. As we’ve said, employees tend to be keenly aware of double standards in the workplace.

This is why workplace transparency is so important, because if your employees get so much as a whiff of preferential treatment, their engagement is going to crash and burn.

How Weekly10 helps you to become a better manager

That’s pretty much our list of common mistakes made by managers that you should be on the look-out for.

But quite a few of these points, like the ones about feedback, responding to issues, and not treating employees like people are often the result of breakdowns in communication and feedback.

Weekly10’s employee check-in helps to build strong communication habits and ensures that you’re always in the loop, while our sentiment analysis uses machine learning to help you spot all the trends in your data.

To learn more about the latest management issues, or to find out how Weekly10 can boost employee engagement for your business, check out our blog today!

Are you a manager looking for ways to better engage your people? Want to boost performance? Why not check out a demo with us?

Head of People Science