5 Common Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Published on March 21, 2013 by arothstein

Bob Trewartha has 30 years of management experience and has created business programs for several colleges, including Broadview University.  The business programs at Broadview University instill the following management concepts into our students and help them become leaders in business after they graduate. Here, Trewartha explains five common management mistakes and how to avoid them.

Bob Trewartha, managementManagement Mistake #1: Lack of Communication in Goal-Setting

Goals can be specific or general, but most of all they need to be communicated.  As we know, any goal that people have some ownership in will be much stronger and more likely to be achieved.  The concept of management by objectives is a great way to get ownership of a plan or goal.  The general idea is to have the team brainstorm ideas, then narrow them down through a “voting” process  and then agree upon a final plan.  This gives the team some say, promotes several creative ways to build ideas and makes the team agree upon a solution.  The leader can help guide the discussion, but should allow for the team to promote idea development.

Another important aspect of goal setting and setting a direction for the organization is keeping it on the forefront of discussion.  During meetings, both team and individual, it is necessary to revisit the goal, and ensure it is understood. Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals is a great exercise.

Management Mistake #2: Employee Motivation – Thinking “They are lucky to have a job!”

A motivated employee is a productive employee. Motivation does not mean that you must make your employee happy all the time, but you need to give them an incentive to perform.  There are different types of employees (Theory X & Y) and they need to be treated accordingly.  Some employees are naturally motivated and want to excel (Theory Y) and need to be given more delegation, decision making and incentives to excel in their jobs.  Some employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can (Theory X).  These employees need more direction, boundaries and training to perform their jobs. I believe we all have some Theory X and Y in us and it is critical to find what makes the Theory Y come out.

My personal favorite motivation theory is Herzberg’s two factor theory.  Motivators, such as challenging work, recognition and responsibility give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth. Hygiene factors such as status, job security, salary and work conditions do not give positive satisfaction, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary (Wikipedia).  The benefit to the two factor theory is understanding the need to create an environment that promotes those motivators and allows employees to see that their contributions are important.

management mistakesManagement Mistake #3: Feedback – Focusing on Negatives

When discussing feedback with employees, it is critical for managers to follow some basic concepts.  Be more positive than negative. Even if you are giving generally negative feedback, it is important for the employee to be able to digest the information and learn from it.  If it is delivered in negativity, it will be rejected, but if there is some idea of how to improve, use their other skills to enhance their behavior or they simply feel valued but need to change their behavior, they will accept the feedback.

The next is to be specific rather than general in your feedback.  What behavior do you want to see or not see?  Don’t say “you need to be better at customer service,” but rather say “when working with someone on a return, you need to do X, Y and Z.”  Another aspect to giving feedback is do not wait to deliver the news in a performance appraisal or at a later date.  Give feedback when it is needed.

One of the hardest things for a manager to do is take feedback themselves.  How can you do a good job if you don’t know how you are doing?  Generally, the further up the food chain you go, the less likely you are to get feedback.  Always be looking for ways to gain the insight you need to do a better job.  Sometimes it is as simple as observing the responses you get from your employees, everything from body language to direct unsolicited feedback.  Other times you must solicit feedback. Ask!  Survey Monkey can be effective, suggestion boxes, talk to your employees and ask them how you are doing.

Management Mistake #4: Avoiding Delegation

The dictionary roughly states that delegation is the action by which a manager  assigns part of his or her authority commensurate with the assigned task to a subordinate. While ultimate responsibility cannot be relinquished, delegation of authority carries with it the imposition of a measure of responsibility. The extent of the authority delegated must be clearly stated.

The most common mistakes are giving authority, communicating expected outcomes and providing necessary support.  It is critical to promote the importance of the employee’s participation in the delegation process and can be a great motivator.  More work can be accomplished and you will find your future leaders, if you can delegate some of your authority.

Management Mistake #5: Misunderstanding the Importance of Culture – Do they WANT to come to work?

What is a positive workplace culture? A place where people feel they are part of something important, they want to be part of making it great and feel they have a stake in making it all happen.  Sounds great, now how do we make that happen?

Here are some simple things that can add up to a great workplace culture.  First, walk the walk.  I mean you set the tone, as a manager and a leader.  If you come to work with a bad attitude, it will be contagious.  Create a culture of open communication.  We have all heard of the open door policy; let’s take it to the next level and create an open communication throughout the organization. Listen to people, focus on the problem, not the person and make your staff feel that they are an important part of the success of the organization. At Broadview University, we promote a “We Care” attitude and it applies to the students, staff and all the communities that come in contact with our schools.


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