12 Mistakes That Managers Make and How To Avoid Them

Managers are human, therefore they make mistakes. This isn’t always easy for a manager to admit, which is in and of itself a mistake. No-one thrives in management without learning to identify and correct their own mistakes. Below are twelve of the most common mistakes managers make, with suggestions on how to avoid or correct them.

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Not connecting with the team

Managing projects through email and task management projects has made it possible for managers to control teams without physically interacting with them. Just because something is possible, however, does not mean it’s advisable.

To keep your team motivated, you need to understand them as individuals. What motivates them? What do they value? What are their personal interests? In short, what makes them tick? Without this understanding managers struggle to deal with motivation and morale issues.

A quick daily “checkin” meeting helps managers and team members share successes, discuss problems, and build relationships. One-on-one weekly meetings offer managers opportunities to build relationships with team members while providing and receiving feedback.

Getting too chummy

Most managers want to be seen as friendly and approachable, but this need can lead to problems. The manager who’s too chummy with his team canundercut her own authority. Friendliness needs to be balanced with professionalism–when push comes to shove managers must not allow friendship to undermine their authority.

If managers and team members are friends out of office, that’s fine. Both parties need to understand how their relationship outside the office differs from their work relationship and respect that difference.

Not listening to team members

Not listening to team members is surprisingly one of the most common mistakes managers make. Caught up in their vision for a project, managers may choose not to hear team members voicing concerns or suggestions. Focused, attentive listening to team members provides important–sometimes crucial–information managers might otherwise overlook.


Few teams enjoy the attention of a micromanaging supervisor, and most managers would deny they’re guilty of managing every tiny detail. despite this, micromanaging remains a common managerial problem.

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Micromanaging is especially common in new managers promoted from lower positions. Their knowledge of their previous responsibilities makes it tempting to oversee their old positions, dividing their attention and, frankly, making life difficult for the team member who stepped into the new role.

New managers need to shift from being task-oriented to coaching-oriented, and this takes time. Finding a mentor among management peers helps make this transition easier–and keeps you from driving your team to distraction every time a task needs completion!

Reacting instead of planning

Reacting and micromanaging are closely related, and both are common mistakes managers make when they’re finding their feet in their new roles. Reactive managers swoop down to resolve team crises, often working long hours to solve problems immediately.

The problem here is twofold. One, by resolving every crisis, managers prevent team members from developing the skills needed to fix problems themselves. Second, the manager who brings personal attention to every negative issue risks burning out early into his or her career.

Instead of reacting, managers should take the time to anticipate possible problems, resolving them before they start and helping team members develop their own crises-resolving skills. Doing so limits managerial responses to only the most serious of setbacks.

Going power crazy

That may sound a little extreme, but managers need to be aware of the temptation to go on power trips. A manager operating on a “my way or the highway” mentality or who refuses to own his own mistakes can quickly erode team member motivation and morale. A little humility goes a long way–as does taking responsibility for your own mistakes.

Ill-defined goals

You may have a clear understanding of your department’s goals, but do your team members? When employees don’t understand what they’re working towards it’s easy for them to become stress, confused, and demoralized.

Provide your team with both department and personal goals. Examine how each team member contributes to your goals and set individual priorities for them. Managers need to remind team members why what they do is important.

Not advocating for the team

New managers may focus so much on their team they forget to “manage up,” or use their influence to advocate for their team with those further up the management chain.

Talk to your superiors about your department, and its importance to the company’s overall mission. Use shared goals to forge connections with other departments, and talk up your team whenever appropriate. Doing so allows your team (and you) to extend your influence further up the corporate hierarchy.

Emotional managing

As team leader, a manager needs to remain calm even when everything seems to be falling around about them. Teams look to managers for support and guidance, and managerial emotional responses determine the team’s emotional state.

Consider the environment and attitude you want to cultivate in your team. Developing your emotional intelligence helps you manage your emotions so you can remain calm and positive in a crisis.

Money is not motivation

While financial reimbursement is one of the chief reason employees work, it’s a mistake to assume money is their only motivator.

Employees are motivated by multiple factors. Improvements in their work/life balance, recognition for a job well done, increased responsibilities, or a chance to develop a new skill can often motivate employees more than financial incentives.

A wise manager discovers what motivates each team member most effectively. Sometimes a quick chat in the hallway to thank an employee for a job well done makes more of an impression than financial rewards.

Failure to provide feedback

Of all the mistakes managers make, this is one of the most serious. Providing constructive criticism to employees can be difficult, but is absolutely vital if your team is to develop and evolve.

Providing feedback is a skill that can be developed. Remember not to simply criticize. Offer solutions to help improve employee performance, and communicate clearly to ensure employees understand how they can improve.

Feedback is not a one-way street. A good manager listens to criticism from his or her team, evaluates it, and makes changes if the feedback is valid.

Failure to grow

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure each member of your team reaches his or her full potential. You’re part of that team, and your growth is as important as anyone else’s. Look for areas of weakness in your management style and develop them. If you have difficulty dealing with conflict, take a conflict management course. Ask your mentor or supervisor how you can improve. Take steps to grow as a professional and a person, and you’ll be able to overcome any of the common mistakes management makes.

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