At a recent management skills workshop, one participant who has been a manager for over 20 years was so relieved that he was finally getting some leadership training. He made a point of letting me know how grateful he was for the tools I was sharing and how he wished he had the information when he started out. He was making these mistakes and didn’t even know it. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn.

When managers make mistakes like these, it affects everyone. The team, the organization, and customers. Here are the most common mistakes managers make and a few ideas on how to avoid them.

Not outlining clear performance expectations for employees.

If I could only give one message to every manager in the world, it would be this… identify clear performance expectations. Why? Because it will make everything else you do easier. How can you hold people accountable if they don’t know what was expected of them? According to a Gallup survey, an astonishing 50% of employees don’t know what’s expected of them work.

There are 3 areas that should have clearly defined measures:  quality, quantity, and time. The key to performance expectations is to make them metric-driven. Once those are in place, coaching conversations, performance reviews, and merit increases are a breeze. Without those in place, no one can be held accountable, performance reviews are worthless, and everyone gets the same raise. That’s not very motivating to your high performers and they won’t stick around for long.

Failing to supervise

Many managers were promoted into their position because they were good at getting their own work done. Unfortunately, once they move into their management role they don’t know what they are supposed to do with themselves. They shouldn’t be doing the same work they did as a worker but because most managers don’t get management skills training, they don’t know what to do instead.

The 3 things managers should spend their time on are: observing, planning, and communicating. Those are very different than doing the work. Observing is necessary to make sure the work is getting done and that can include visually seeing the results and reviewing reports. To avoid looking like a stalker, try the tried and true management by walking around (MBWA) method.

To practice MBWA follow these steps:

  1. Block off time on your calendar, an hour should do it.
  2. Choose 2 – 3 people to talk to.
  3. Ask them specific work-related questions.

If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll have good handle on what’s going on and being visible builds trust.

Avoiding difficult conversations

Most managers don’t love having tough discussions but it comes with the territory. It’s the managers job to help people succeed and sometimes that means letting someone know they aren’t performing up to par. Whatever you do, do not (I repeat, DO NOT) send out generic emails to the whole team when only person needs to be talked to and don’t post signs hoping the problem with go away.

Here are a few tips to help make those tough conversation easier…

  1. Assume the person wants to know what they are doing wrong so they can correct their behavior.
  2. Deal with the issue as soon as possible.
  3. Be prepared. Use the C.O.R.E. Feedback formula to get your thhoughts in order so you can stay focused and get the best results.

These are just 3 of the most common mistakes managers make. If the managers on your leadership team are making these mistakes, maybe it’s time to consider training. Contact me to see how I can help with leadership training for your management team.

Liz Uram teaches Essential Leadership Skills for Managers and Supervisors so tomorrow’s leaders can develop a unique and valuable talent stack and get better results for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

3 Common Mistakes Managers Make (even experienced ones)