Despite having great experience managers are still capable of getting it wrong from time to time. Of course this is part of being human and it is occasionally worth reviewing our management and leadership skills to keep us at the top of our profession.
In this article we focus on three mistakes even the best and most experienced manager can make. Which ones can you identify with?
1. Becoming Complacent
As we build new teams we settle into a method that works well for us and fits our value set. In the end we assume that this method will always work or we start to drop key elements of the process. Just because we do it automatically we can become complacent and don’t appreciate that missing parts of the process can have serious consequences. To counteract this complacency start carrying out a self-assessment at the end of every day to see whether you are satisfied with the way you approached things.
2. Misunderstanding People
Experienced managers have worked with a variety of people and situations. Yet even though they have seen so much it does not mean that they have seen every situation. It is easy to assume that people with similar personalities will generally act or be motivated in the same way. This is a mistake that can be easily made and can lead to misunderstandings with employees.
One example is where a particularly challenging situation occurred in the past and the member of staff involved seemed to cope with it very well. The natural assumption made by the manager is that the person will be able to cope just as well in a similar situation. What can in fact happen is the next time the situation happens again, the individual concerned maybe in a different and perhaps less confident state of mind. This may lead to a drop in confidence and a poorer performance.
When this happens the manager is perplexed and begins to wonder about the competency of the employee. The answer is to check with the employee and give them the chance to explain what might have happened. Be supportive and show that you value their contribution and that we are all entitled to have a bad day.
3. Resisting Change
Sometimes when we are called in by an ambitious confident and experienced manager to work with their teams we find that it is the manager themselves that needs the training!
Such confidence in the fact that they are right often blinds them to the fact that it may be them that is causing the problem. When they are made aware of this situation they say things like, ‘That’s just the way that I work’ and deny that anything needs to change. They find it difficult to accept that may be the employees are doing their best in the circumstances.
Managers are often trying to convince their team that change is a good thing, yet when it comes to changing the way they manage their team they forget that they will often experience the same anxieties and concerns. Like anybody else they may need time to get used the idea and think about how they make the changes.
So in summary it is human to make managerial mistakes even though we are very experienced in managing people. Taking time out to reflect on our style and the techniques we use can be very productive. Asking for honest feedback from our team and colleagues is a great way to see whether we need to be more consciously aware of what we do rather than be on management autopilot.