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Seven Stupid Mistakes Managers Make (and What to Do Instead)

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Darryl Rosen
Darryl Rosen

This is a guest post on stupid management mistakes by Darryl Rosen, author of Table for Three? Bringing Your Smart Phone to Lunch and 50 Dumb Mistakes Smart Managers Don’t Make!

You’re a manager and you glance down at an incoming text while an employee is talking to you. DUMB! Or you bark “Just get it done!” to your team and then walk away. DUMB!

According to a CareerBuilder poll, 58% of managers received NO training before starting the job, which often results in avoidable management missteps like these.

Even smart, well-trained managers make dumb mistakes.

The difference between dumb managers and smart ones is that smart managers notice when their salespeople are unmotivated and their workers are uninspired.

Smart managers will work at making small behavioral changes, one step at a time, to correct common management mistakes that are impeding their performance.

Here are seven dumb mistakes managers make, and what to do instead. Any of these sound familiar?

1. Assuming they’re paying attention, when they’re really planning tonight’s menu

Just because they’re quiet while you tell them how to structure tomorrow’s presentation doesn’t mean they’re actually listening and learning. Making sure your people pay attention isn’t their job.

It’s yours.

Check for understanding. Go around the table to gauge everyone’s grasp of the key expectation. Ask each team member if he or she is on the same page. Have each member verbalize their next action step.

Brainstorm new approaches.

2. Turning their job into an episode of “Survivor”

All the weaklings got kicked off the island and now you’ve got an ace team. They’re talented, smart, and resourceful. So you set steep goals and say things like “Have at it” or “Get it done.”

Soon, though, your “tribe” is looking haggard and anxious. That’s because you threw your great performers to the wolves.

Instead, ask them, “What information can I provide to help you achieve this goal? What are the best ways we can succeed?”

Let them know you’ll both support them along the way and provide the necessary resources to win the challenge.

3. Hiding behind email to avoid a difficult discussion

When potential conflict is involved, it’s so much easier to send a terse reply than to make the effort to resolve the issue face-to-face. But is this the behavior you want to model to your employees?

C’mon–be a leader and set an example. First, prepare for the talk. Next, ask yourself how you helped create this problem.

When you meet, speak in facts, and don’t make assumptions about the person’s character based on his or her actions.

Ask questions, show respect, discuss action steps attached to consequences, and come to a mutual agreement.

4. Turning into the Incredible Hulk

Do you lash out at your people, figuring fear will motivate them? Here’s the rule: if you wouldn’t say it to your spouse like that, you shouldn’t say it to your employees.

Anything that can be said in a negative manner can also be said in a positive manner.

Being yelled at makes people feel worse; it doesn’t energize them. Get in the habit of rephrasing negative statements into encouraging ones.

So, “I won’t listen to another angry supplier because of you guys!” becomes “I know you guys are better than this. What can we do differently?”

Table for Three
Darryl’s book, Table for Three

5. Walking around naked, without mirrors

Are you like the emperor who wore no clothes? Is anyone brave enough to tell you what you don’t want to see about yourself or the company?

If your people are telling you exactly what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear, it won’t be long before they lose respect for you.

Don’t depend on others to reflect back to you. Look in a real mirror.

Are you clear about what you expect? Do you share your expectations in a straightforward manner? Can your people count on you to lead them with intelligence, vision, and consistency? Do you hold yourself accountable for everything that happens under you?

Don’t forget to reward feedback.

6. Being a helicopter manager

You hover over your employees like a helicopter manager. Your people stop in several times a day with questions. Your sales professionals call and text you constantly from the road to help them solve problems.

You wouldn’t tolerate 10 calls a day from your child, so don’t let your sales professionals or other employees do it either. Your micromanagement style is making them stupid.

Set aside one specific hour a day when they can call or stop by to go over open items, questions, concerns, etc. Let them solve their own problems the rest of the time.

7. Watching their lips move, but hearing nothing

Quick: could you look at every employee and identify each person’s greatest challenge?

Uh, do you even know what they do? If the answer is no, you either haven’t asked them lately, or weren’t listening to them when they told you.

Help others feel heard by turning down the volume of your ego and turning up the volume of your listening.

When people talk to you, ask them clarifying questions, such as: “What does that mean? Can you be more specific? How did you reach that conclusion?” Shut up and listen.

Darryl Rosen has many years of experience running an internationally renowned company and is now a leading performance coach for managers and sales professionals. His newest book is Table for Three? Bringing Your Smart Phone to Lunch and 50 Dumb Mistakes Smart Managers Don’t Make! Buy on Amazon here.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.

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