Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make

Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make: Misunderstanding Motivation

Management Challenge Program Designer Kate McLagan is penning our latest blog series “Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make”. Over the next five weeks, Kate will explore these critical mistakes that managers make in their relationships with their direct reports. Read on for Part 5: Misunderstanding Motivation. Click here to read Part 4: Failing to Delegate.

Manager Mistake #5: Misunderstanding Motivation

The workplace today is a very complex social system, and motivating people to do their best work consistently is an enduring management challenge. Managers often find employee motivation to be something of a mystery. Motivation comes from wanting to do something of one’s own free will. Employees don’t engage when they are being over-managed or controlled, so strong-armed attempts (however well-intended) to force employees to be motivated will fail. Employees are motivated by intrinsic factors such as interesting work, challenges, and increased responsibility. For example, when managers provide interesting work, it brings out the employee’s energy and willingness to complete their task. They get excited about the work ahead and thus feel motivated. In today’s workplace, the focus on motivation largely remains on external motivators, i.e. the “carrot-and-stick” approach. With the “carrot” being a paycheck and the “stick” being a threat, these extrinsic factors do not motivate employees from within.

It is important to note that motivation is at the very heart of performance management. People want to “understand the game”, develop skills, and accomplish personal goals. Your expectations of people and their expectations of themselves are the factors that result in positive employee performance and motivations. Interestingly, the techniques that have the greatest motivational impact are practiced the least. If provided the proper environment as well as feedback and coaching, they will engage with their own internal motivators. You will never have employees treat customers better than they are being treated themselves.

Avoid This Mistake:

  • Provide opportunities for the employee to experience increasingly challenging assignments (ensuring he/she succeeds at each level before moving forward)
  • Conduct one-to-one feedback & coaching with the employee emphasizing what they do well vs focusing on their weaknesses
  • Provide developmental opportunities that reflect what the employee is interested in learning
  • Project your sincere commitment to the employee’s success and ongoing development tied to the purpose/mission of your organization

Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make: Failing to Delegate

Management Challenge Program Designer Kate McLagan is penning our latest blog series “Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make”. Over the next five weeks, Kate will explore these critical mistakes that managers make in their relationships with their direct reports. Read on for Part 4: Failing to Delegate.

Manager Mistake #4: Failing to Delegate

With today’s emphasis on teamwork, the ability to delegate is critical to the team’s success. Delegation is not task assignment or “dumping”; it involves giving someone the responsibility and authority to do something that is normally part of the manager’s job. Effective delegation requires good communication, clear expectations and goals, and working with the employee to help develop the skills needed to get the job done.

Managers frequently complain that they have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. If not checked, this feeling leads to stress and managerial ineffectiveness. In many cases due to this stress, managers resort to micromanaging. Delegation is not task assignment and it is not “dumping”. Delegating is the ability to know what a person can successfully do next, and is a powerful avenue for developing your employees. Effective delegation cannot occur without a full understanding of responsibility, accountability, and authority. A good delegator establishes with the person what should be done, and lets the individual figure out how it can best be accomplished while setting up the necessary controls to allow for errors and mistakes.

Mastering the art of delegation makes you a much more effective manager, and by matching assignments to an employee’s skills, abilities, and talents, it can be highly motivating. Delegating provides professional growth, personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment – all leading to increased commitment and morale.

Avoid This Mistake:

  • Delegate responsibility, not work
  • Give employees opportunities to be involved and provide input in decision making
  • Ask questions such as: “Any ideas as to how you’ll proceed?”
  • Establish routine checkups – in advance

Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make: Failing to Make Time For a Team

Management Challenge Program Designer Kate McLagan is penning our latest blog series “Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make”. Over the next five weeks, Kate will explore these critical mistakes that managers make in their relationships with their direct reports. Read on for Part 3: Failing to Make Time for Team. Click here to read Mistake #2.

Manager Mistake #3: Failing to Make Time For a Team

Most of us grew up with the paradigm that being a manager is about operations, programs and productivity. Managers are constantly pressed for time budgeting, planning, meetings, focusing on results and the countless other things that crowd their daily calendars. As a result, most managers underinvest in one-on-one time or coaching with employees. And in the limited time they do dedicate to coaching, managers often micromanage employees, telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. As Stephen Covey wrote: “Most organizations are over-managed and under-led.”

Managing and coaching are two very different activities. Managing is all about telling, directing, authority, addressing immediate needs, and reaching a specific outcome. Coaching involves exploring, facilitating, partnership, long-term improvement, and many possible outcomes. In business, we have to be both coaches and managers. Where’s the majority of your time spent? Chances are that each of your direct reports could benefit from your coaching in some way. Employees whose managers spend time coaching express more satisfaction and commitment because the coaching skill is focused on the talent of the person, and not on the production of the job.

Avoid This Mistake:

  • Make yourself accessible and available
  • Guide, inspire, recognize and praise on a regular and frequent basis
  • Hold morale building meetings around a milestone or things that make you successful
  • Involve employees, solicit their opinions, and explore individual needs and drivers

Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make: Communicating Poorly

Management Challenge Program Designer Kate McLagan is penning our latest blog series “Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make”. Over the next five weeks, Kate will explore these critical mistakes that managers make in their relationships with their direct reports. Read on for Part 2: Communicating Poorly. Click here to read last week’s blog, Mistake #1: Lack of Feedback.

Manager Mistake #2: Communicating Poorly

Managers need to be able to communicate, build relationships and work with individuals at all levels and their behavior and interpersonal skills can affect others both positively and negatively. We often see managers focus on a one-way flow of words rather than a dialogue. They tell instead ask, and blame rather than solve problems. In addition, they tend to communicate too much about the past and what went wrong rather than the present and future.

Engaging employees in focused conversations about performance is at the heart of the management process. Good conversations that lead to mutual understanding and clear action are the most effective ways to get results and build relationships. Employees’ opinions matter, and it is highly motivational when their input is sought. Key conversations between a manager and employee lead to clarity in direction and a sense of shared ownership. The quality of these conversations is determined by the manager’s ability to listen, probe, ask questions and communicate regarding key skills underlying all types of coaching scenarios.

Avoid This Mistake:

  • Set clear expectations
  • Observe behavior and give feedback (balance effective and deficient)
  • Learn about individual needs and motivational drivers
  • Coach to change undesirable behaviors and increase desired behaviors

Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make: Lack of Feedback

Management Challenge Program Designer Kate McLagan is penning our latest blog series “Top 5 Mistakes Managers Make”. Over the next five weeks, Kate will explore these critical mistakes that managers make in their relationships with their direct reports. Read on for Part 1: Lack of Feedback.

Manager Mistake #1: Lack of Feedback

Today’s workplace is a feedback desert. Feedback often comes in the form of a once-a-year, awkward, 45-minute conversation with your boss. Without ongoing feedback throughout the year, it is nearly impossible for employees to know where they stand in the company. Employees need to know what you expect them to do, how well you expect them to do, and when you expect them to do it.

They need regular, specific feedback on performance – where they’re excelling and where they need to improve. As a manager, you have to communicate to your employees the insights you have from your vantage point. Your employees cannot grow professionally if you do not relay to them where they are performing well and where they could be better.

They need to understand how their work fits into the overall mission and purpose of the business unit as well as the company. Help your employees see the big picture so that they feel connected to the company’s success. For example, when you delegate a task to an employee, explain to them why the task is necessary, not just in the short term, but for reaching company goals.

They need to know their level of authority: what decisions they can make on their own and when to involve others. Empower your people to do what they were hired to do, while setting clear guidelines for when they should consult with you.

Providing ongoing feedback gives your employees a window into your thought process. When everyone is clear on what is expected of them and how well they are performing, managers and employees can work together towards improvement.

Avoid This Mistake:

  • Frequency of feedback should be based on individual needs
  • Specific feedback tied to performance should set clear expectations
  • Employees must know their level of authority