Being a manager is generally a challenging endeavor. Requirements of this role include a variety of competencies which are related to all sorts of skills from strategic and business-leading ones, those related to process and resource management, to social skills and leadership. The role is even more challenging for first-time managers, given that they usually find themselves doing a job they weren’t originally hired to do, and being an expert in a particular field and managing a team require very different skill sets. It’s clear there is a number of pitfalls a manager might fall into, and here are the first 5 which research showed are the ones which usually make leaders fail:
1. Avoid risk and are reluctant to make decisions
Risk comes with every business hand in hand. Some of it is easy to avoid or to deal with, but very often there are risks in conducting business that are not easy to manage. In these occasions many managers employ ‘’play it safe’’ strategies that could, in a short run benefit the business in regards of taking reasonable, low risk decisions, but in a long run can have implications for a company’s investment and growth.
When it comes to risky situations the biggest challenge is overcoming emotions - not letting the fear of failure and perceived consequences block the sound judgment of the situation. Not every risky situation ends in catastrophe.
If this feels familiar, consider the worst case scenario when faced with a significant challenge or decision – is it really that terrible? Practice timely decision making and create the strategy for both positive and negative outcomes.
Also, since you have a keen eye for recognizing potential downfalls- use your fear of failure to improve existing processes.
2. Rarely communicate with employees and seem distant
Managers are the ones taking the biggest responsibility in everyday business, and it may seem that there are always more important stuff that need your attention, but keep in mind that employees are the ones getting the job done, and all your plans and hard work you put into planning, meetings, negotiations and strategy development, won’t mean a thing if they are not motivated to follow you.
Although it’s good that you seem independent and strong to your employees, it is equally important to make yourself available. For start- appoint a time of the day that you would dedicate to your employees, answer their questions, provide them with constructive feedback or just socialize with them. Give them an opportunity to get to know you and try to get to know them better yourself. Recognize and acknowledge the challenges they are experiencing on the job, and offer your support. Just being present and really listening may go a long way.
3. Rarely admit their mistakes, but ‘charm their way out’ of problems
Resourcefulness and charm are certainly an asset in the business world and can get you far if employed properly. But what happens when you overuse them and overstep some boundaries? What happens when someone holds you accountable?
The main goal in managing this tendency is to accept that generally rules are there for a reason and that they should be respected. Realizing that peoples’ trust is not to be taken for granted can be helpful too- they might forgive you a couple of times but it won’t last forever, no matter how charming you are. Try to keep your promises and take responsibility for your actions in order not to lose your credibility.
4. Are suspicious of other’s intentions and don’t trust their employees
As a manager it may serve you well not to put your trust easily into new things, new people and new ideas. A small dose of skepticism can be welcome in your job and might protect you from different adverse outcomes.
But if you are a type of manager that questions everything and everyone, these traits are no longer an asset but become a development challenge.
Try to accept the fact that people don’t always have a hidden agenda. Acknowledge that their good intentions and friendly actions are just that and nothing more. Also, if you are taking time to provide them with feedback, try to name at least three things they are doing well and elaborate them in a same way you would elaborate the negatives.
Employ your criticism for a good cause- instead of just pointing out flaws, make suggestions on how to rectify them whether those are employees flaws or flaws in organizational processes.
5. Reluctant to act against popular opinion and stand up for their employees in front of upper management
As it happens, managers are often in the position of representing their employees’ interests to upper management and even clients or colleagues from other departments. Some of them are doing this part of their job really good, and are encouraging a culture of trust within their team. Some, on the other hand, struggle to balance keeping their own reputation with doing what’s best for the team. They have a tendency of taking the middle ground or just going along with the opinion of the highest person in the hierarchy.
What these managers tend to forget in times of stress is that loyalty and trust go both ways- if you want to have a team that would go the extra mile and that you can count on- don’t leave them hanging when they rely on you. The consequences for your position and reputation won’t be that critical as losing your teams’ trust can be.
On the other hand, as a manager you must develop credibility in your organization, and for that you need to know how to hold your ground. Conforming is not always the best way- you need to recognize the situations in which confrontation is necessary. Prepare for situations like this and practice giving your opinion and defending it in a clear and confident manner.
If you would like to learn more about the most common management mistakes, stay tuned for our follow-up article with 6 more managerial challenges!