One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is managing your staff. This is because when managing, you’re working with people and their personalities, rather than completing a certain task or technical function. Each person you manage comes with his or her own emotions, motivators, and beliefs, so there’s no one-size-fits-all management practice that works with all of your employees. You may be a whiz at dealing with the business side of your job, but unless you know how to effectively lead other people, you probably aren’t going to be a successful manager.
Your primary responsibilities as a manager are to engage and inspire your staff, provide them with goals and direction, and ensure that they are doing their jobs correctly and on time. Every manager makes mistakes, but as long as you’re able to recognize those mistakes and learn from them, you can develop the skills you need to be a superior leader. The following are a list of the most common mistakes mangers make and how you can avoid them.
1. Not listening to your staff or valuing their input: Most management mistakes boil down to poor communication, and one of the hallmarks of poor communication is the failure to actively listen to others. While you are ultimately the boss, you should carefully listen to what your employees tell you and show them that you value their feedback. The more you listen, the more you’ll understand not only the facts of any given situation, but also the needs and concerns of your staff. Listening shows you respect your team and aren’t just there to tell them what to do. Even more, if what your employees tell you makes sense and is valid, you need to be willing to act upon their input, even if it means reconsidering your own views about an issue or situation.
2. Not delegating: Effectively delegating can be challenging because it requires having sincere trust in your employees, even if you are more qualified to perform a certain task. However, if you don’t delegate, you won’t have time to deal with the “big picture” responsibilities of your job as a manager, such as developing your team’s goals and strategies. Furthermore, by delegating responsibility, you’ll empower your employees to cultivate their own abilities and grow into a truly valuable member of your team. By doing this, you will not only effectively support your staff, but they’ll ultimately be better able to support both you and the company.
3. Acting like a friend rather than a boss: While it’s perfectly fine to be kind and friendly with your employees, it’s a bad idea to develop a close friendship with them. At first, becoming friends might seem like a good way to get to know your employees better, but this actually gets in the way of being an effective boss. When you’re friends, it’s far more difficult to discipline an employee. Not to mention, employees will likely be deeply offended when you have to be strict with them because they consider you their friend, not boss. Additionally, when you’re friends with one or two of your employees, the others on the staff will resent you for playing favorites. Be kind to your employees, but always maintain a professional relationship, instead of a personal one. In the long run, both you and your employees will be better off for it.
4. Not quickly taking immediate action when a problem arises: When problems arise—especially difficult ones involving people and their personalities— it’s tempting for managers to ignore the issue in hopes that it will resolve itself with time. But this is asking for serious trouble. Ignoring a problem—for any length of time—only makes things worse, and before long what started out as a minor annoyance can become a catastrophe. Managers should deal with any problem as soon as it arises and take whatever steps are needed to improve the situation. While a little drama may seem fairly harmless, with time it can seriously affect employee morale, motivation, and productivity. The sooner you address a problem, the easier it will be to resolve.
5. Not making time for your employees: If you have a talented staff that is able to work on their own without a lot of guidance, it can be tempting to be a completely “hands-off” manager. But if you don’t provide employees with some of your time and attention, problems can arise. Even if you have tons of your own work to get done, always make yourself available to your team. Set aside blocks of time to meet and talk with your staff, so you are aware of how they are doing and what their needs are. It also helps to take the time to briefly visit with every employee over the course of a week, even if there is no particular issue to discuss. Employees need to know that you are available to help and support them, and even workers who are completely capable of doing their work without your help will appreciate your attention. As a manager, your staff should always be your number-one priority—and giving them your attention will show them that they’re valued.
Sources: Monster.com, Allbusiness.com, Intuit. com, Mindtools.com, The Huffington Post.