10 Common Mistakes Managers Make and How to Avoid Them

Managing people is a complex task, and it's easy to understand why managers make major mistakes in the daily management of the people they employ. Everyone is different, with different learning styles and motivators, so managing people is far from being an exact science. To complicate matters even more, most managers arrive at the position with little or no management training. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of the common errors managers make and how to avoid them.

One of the most frequent blunders managers make is not spending enough time with their team. Managers should strive to really listen to what employees are saying and to respond to suggestions promptly. Knowing employees will make you a better manager, a manager who better responds to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events. Understanding what's going on in employees' lives can help managers to anticipate calls and other issues, and to make reasonable adjustments when necessary so that employees can perform to their full potential. Another mistake managers often make is not walking the talk.

Leaders who ignore the emotions of loss and disappointment make a serious mistake that greatly reduces employee engagement. Most people are guided by “intrinsic motivations”, such as facing challenges, learning something new, making an important difference, having meaning or purpose, or developing their talents. Too many leaders miss the opportunity to take advantage of this internal guidance system and instead focus on “extrinsic motivators”, such as bonuses, promotions, money and artificial rewards. Managers must set tasks, identify priorities, and be consistent in making employees meet a specific standard. You can train managers in listening skills, but if the manager believes that listening is a way of showing that he values people, training is often unnecessary.

Instead of taking responsibility for what goes wrong in the areas you manage, blame certain employees when top managers ask you or confront them. Managers should also be aware of skipping meals. After several hours without eating, studies show that you begin to lose consciousness. Therefore, a meal break, even if it's just a short 15-minute break, helps to recharge your batteries and manage afternoon tasks more effectively. Consistently skipping lunch to save time will only cost you a loss of productivity. Finally, managers should be aware of their own values and beliefs.

Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach and more difficult for managers to learn. In a people-oriented and forward-thinking organization, you'll want to interview and select managers who display these characteristics. Managing people can be difficult but it doesn't have to be impossible. By being aware of these common mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, managers can become more effective leaders who inspire their teams.