As managers, it’s always easy to soak up the praise and congratulate ourselves for a job well done. However, it can be more even more useful to take a hard look at our mistakes. We expect our subordinates and contractors to improve and learn from their mistakes; shouldn’t we, as managers, begin learning from our mistakes as well?
Mistake #1: Being Indirect When We Need to Be Direct
Sometimes we’re tempted to dance around what we really want to say because we’re trying to spare someone’s feelings or to motivate them into doing better. As a result, the message we’re trying to send often doesn’t get through. Sometimes, and particularly when dealing with difficult people, the best approach is to simply be blunt. It is possible to be very direct in a professional way. Be open and honest in your communication and do not sugar-coat key messages, especially when the stakes are high.
Mistake #2: Micro-Managing as a Means to Express Urgency
No one wants micro-managing manager. No one. Ever. But sometimes, especially when a deadline is looming, it’s tempting to stand over an employee or contractor and just…hover. It’s not that we don’t trust the other person, it’s that we want to make sure they know that we need this task done quickly.
But there are much better ways of expressing a need for urgency than checking in on someone every few minutes. Often, the reason we feel compelled to hover is that we worry we have assigned the task to the wrong person. If we assigned the task to someone we knew would get it done, we probably wouldn’t feel the need to micro-manage.
Mistake #3: Taking Too Long to Set Expectations
It’s important for team members to know what we expect from them. This is especially true when we onboard someone new or we take over an existing team. If we take our time setting expectations so that we can build or improve camaraderie, we end up confusing our team
There is no better time to establish expectations than right at the very beginning—whether that’s the beginning of a new project or a whole new job. Be specific with your expectations and outline your goals for the team.
Mistake #4: Outlining Too Many Priorities
Ambitious, driven, Type-A people like to get things done, and ambitious, driven, Type-A people often make great managers. But we’re also prone to setting unrealistic goals and not letting go of those goals when it becomes clear that they’re unrealistic.
Sometimes, we need to say no. We need to recognize when we are taking on too much, both for ourselves and our teams. When it becomes clear that a workload is overwhelming, we need to be willing to let something drop. Being a good manager means being disciplined about the assignments we accept and the priorities we set for our staff.
Trying to identify your own management flaws is not easy and it can be humbling, but it can also give you valuable insight into yourself and your leadership style. By taking a few minutes to think through your own past management mistakes, you’ll likely see how you can prevent future problems by learning from your mistakes.