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5 common mistakes managers make and how to avoid them

This is a guest post by Idaho-based writer Katie McBeth.

Achieving a position in upper management is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes years of working through the lower-level jobs before a promotion is offered. Other times it simply takes a degree and some basic knowledge. Either way, the effort put into the process takes time, and it is a proud moment when a dedicated employee becomes a manager.

Yet, the hard work is never finished. It’s not all extended annual leave and task delegation when in management. There are specific skills that need to be mastered, and many mistakes that will be made along the way. One can hope that those mistakes turn into learning experiences and won’t occur again.

However, there are common mistakes that bosses will repeatedly make that can go unnoticed but can cause serious harm to their business. In those cases, it may be best to re-evaluate management styles to ensure employee retention and business survival. These are the five most common mistakes of managers and how they can be avoided. 

  1. Not investing in social media (or overdoing it)

    For managers, social media can appear more of a threat than an asset. Employers fear that by giving their employees access to social media they will abuse their privilege and waste valuable company time. Or maybe the fear is that the outreach potential for social media isn’t as great as direct face-to-face interactions.

    Although there is some merit to these beliefs, it is vital that companies (small and large) invest in the potential for social media outreach. Managers will find that, by utilising outlets like Twitter or Instagram, they will not only reach a wider audience but will open up a whole new world of creative ideas - not to mention the potential held within social learning.

    There are particular aspects of social media that managers should prepare for, including online etiquette and data security. Ensuring that all employees are on board with any rules that are set is crucial.

    It is also important to remember not to flood ‘feeds’ with information. Customers can lose interest if they’re constantly bombarded with sales and company promotions, just as learners can lose interest if they're flooded with learning content, and outlets like Facebook have barriers in place to limit posts made by businesses. Using social media regularly, but in small doses, can greatly benefit your business and cultivate a caring community.

  2. Not placing any importance on Emotional Intelligence (EI)

    Emotional Intelligence is vital in business, although many managers may not be aware of its impact on everyday office culture. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as the ability to detect and understand emotions and the ability to manage emotions effectively. EI is different from IQ, and has been found to be valued higher among employees than IQ.

    According to a study done in 2010 by Joshua Freedman, businesses that put greater emphasis in EI found a 34% increase in profits. In addition, employers who were managed by someone with a high EI were happier and felt more comfortable approaching their boss.

    Emotional Intelligence is something that should not be discounted when making hiring decisions. If a manager finds they need to improve their EI and does so, they may see an increase in employee appreciation, participation, and in overall business profits. 

  3. Making assumptions about communication and learning

    A dangerous trap that any manager - good or bad - can fall into is making assumptions about their team. From assuming that employees will seek out communication, to assuming that younger employees will not need computer training; these assumptions can cause serious issues within the business and towards employees.

    Luckily, there are wonderful apps that can help managers avoid these mistakes. Intra-office communication apps like Slack and delegation apps like Asana can ensure managers keep track of tasks and keep an open line of communication between them and their employees. Learning management systems like Totara LMS can keep all employees updated on the latest changes in the business, preventing the harmful assumption that employees will simply 'figure it out'.

    ​Despite the convenience of these technologies, it is still important to create a comfortable environment where quality face-to-face time occurs with employees so that any serious changes or issues can be handled accordingly.

  4. Forgetting that management holds power

    This mistake commonly occurs side by side with assumptions. Some managers assume that their employees will be open to discussing everything with them. What that assumption overlooks is the fact that management positions hold a lot of power. Employees may not feel comfortable talking candidly with their superior due to a fear of losing their job. This is the benefit of having an HR department, but rarely do small businesses have that protection.

    Reversely, some managers may be too comfortable with their employees. Due to a manager’s overly friendly nature, ‘bad-seed’ workers may be evading reprimand when it is warranted. It’s important to remember that managers should be constructive, but should never pick favourites. They should be personal ‘cheerleaders’ to their employees, and recognise the power they hold and how it may influence their employee’s interactions. 

  5. Failing to delegate

    Delegation is an important part of management, but many managers fail to do it properly or regularly enough. When managers take on too much work or responsibility, they may reach burnout on a recurring basis, resulting in stress and frustration that is reflected back to their employees. This can cause serious strife in the office, resulting in a higher employee turnover and long-term health problems.

    When delegating, it is also vital to remember that the employees taking over that project should be trusted. Rarely should employees be micro-managed. They are paid to work for the company, and they should be trusted with the responsibilities handed to them. If concerns arise, then it is time to have a conversation - but an open communication path cannot exist without trust. If managers trust their employees, then workers will be more likely to trust their boss. 

What are the key mistakes you see managers making, and what tips or advice would you give to help organisations overcome these mistakes?

About the author

Katie McBeth is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n' cheese and attending indie concerts in small bars. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.


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