Why Managers Fail

The other day we talked about the ways in which managers are judged and over the past few weeks we have discussed some of the skills a manager really needs to have in order to be successful. There is certainly a lengthy list of criteria but even with this knowledge some managers (or, to be fair, management teams) fail. So why is this?

The first problem is that some managers never take the time to learn about the expectations their superiors have of them. They either just don’t know or they’re afraid to ask, making it difficult for them to complete their jobs in a manner that makes those in upper management happy.

The second problem is the lack of decision making skills. Let’s face it – life is full of choices. As a manager you need to be able to sort through those choices, determine which is best, and stick to your guns despite the potential grumblings of your subordinates. If you can’t make tough decisions for your department, who will? Without a manager making decisions, nothing would ever get done!

Which brings me to my next point – relationships. A good manager should be able to build strong working relationships with his peers and subordinates. If you can’t work together with the people on your teams you’ll never get anything done because even if you do make a quality decision no one will a) respect it or b) listen at all.

The final problem I’d like to address today is a lack of political savvy. Let’s face it, as a manager you do not have the luxury of being able to say whatever you want, when you want, regardless of your audience. You must learn how to be politically correct when you speak – tailoring your word choice and delivery to your audience. Your peers, for example, may appreciate a good joke but your subordinates may not take you seriously and upper management may view your behaviour as inappropriate.

So where do you fall in the grand scheme of things. Are you on the path to success or failure? If you’re on the latter path, can you turn things around before it’s too late?

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 6 July, 2009

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