Top 10 mistakes managers make

In perfect world, managers are hopefully also leaders. Knowing how to inspire, motivate, coach and hold people accountable for their behaviors is the foundation for improving. It’s not surprising, then, that managers can commit many of the following common errors without recognizing why they fail to manage effectively:

1. Neglect to develop the people being managed – The top job of the manager is to develop the people on the team. Thinking that “you” know everything the team needs to know about their roles, limits them to only your experience. Without continual training in a rapidly changing marketplace you can find yourself unprepared to meet unexpected challenges.

2. Refuse to accept personal responsibility for the behaviors and production of the team – This results in too much time spent blaming: the people, the market, the economy, the product, or the company and will never increase team effectiveness. Furthermore, accepting excuses from people also does them a disservice.

3. Focus on the results rather than the behavior, attitudes and beliefs – Results are clear to everyone. They may even be posted on the wall or on the company Intranet. But focusing on them is dangerous. Instead, knowing what behaviors, attitudes and beliefs enable people to be productive is the first step to successful management. The second step is to know how to change the behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that get in the way.

4. Don’t use all the data you can get; never “objectively” evaluate your people – It just doesn’t make sense to stay in the dark when highly accurate, dependable objective assessment tools will tell you precisely how and why your people are or are not productive. Use these tools to gather information to educate you on how to better train the individuals you manage and understand objectively what their strengths and weaknesses are.

5. Be a buddy, not a coach/manager – The team you manage most likely wants to get better. People need a mentor, not a friend, to spur them to leave their comfort zone and find new success. A buddy may allow excuse making, a coach won’t .

6. Manage all your people the same way – Managing everyone the same way will result in frustration, lack of clarity and missed opportunities to have effective team members. Your people are unique and require different direction, training and support. Meet their needs individually and you’ll begin to unlock their potential.

7. Focus on the problems rather than the objective – Paying attention to the objective will allow you to know and understand your target. That’s good. However, when managers focus on just the problem, not the accomplishment of the objective, it limits managers solving the real problems and accomplishing objectives that have to be dealt with when managing people.

8. Forget the importance of leadership – a team performing well is not the only indicator of success in a company. Leading and managing your people are two different skills. Both are important. But only “managing” your people, and not leading them, can result in a lack of confidence in the team about their manager and consequently a poorly performing team. Learn how to not just manage, but lead also. Learning how to make decisions, and make them now, is a sign of a leader.

9. Don’t set standards, and never rank your people by anything other than just performance – People can actually believe their lack of competent performance is acceptable when they see no consequences for the failure to perform. All people need clear expectations, and the awareness that there are a variety of ways to succeed as well as the knowledge of where they stand.

10. Recognize only the top producers and only once a year at bonus time – Failure to see the team as the reason for success leads to isolation and a lack of camaraderie. On the other hand, recognition of everyone’s efforts strengthens the team and leads to greater initiative. People are “stroke-deprived.” Give recognition/strokes throughout the year, not only at the end of the year when they expect it.
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Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners and is the recipient of the David H. Sandler Award, awarded to the top Sandler trainer in the world. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the World. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or


Categories: Management & Leadership