Here are the 5 biggest management mistakes and how you can avoid making them.
We've all seen it, the business leader who hovers over his or her direct reports smothering them with a real time barrage of corrections and "suggestions." The result is a frustrated and impotent team who grow to become dependent on that leader to direct their daily actions.
When you hand off a task, project, or ongoing responsibility to a team member, I suggest you give them:
a) A clear picture of what success looks like, and why it matters to your company.
b) The resources they'll need to get the job done (budget, team, and/or tools).
c) A clear picture of how and when you want them to report on progress and results to you (including what status would require you to get involved again).
d) And the authority and responsibility to get the necessary job done.
If you've done this, then you have to let them get on with the job.
Remember, while you may have a suggestion that could improve things by 10 percent, you'll lower their sense of ownership and learning by 50 percent or more if you aren't careful how you share it. There is a time and a place to direct or coach your team. Pick your moments wisely. When in doubt, let the "suggestion" go, it likely won't help.
This is the opposite of micromanagement. Abdication is when you dump a task or project on a team member's plate then walk away, leaving them to figure it out by themselves. While many times a talented team member will be able to handle this, the real problem is that most business leaders who abdicate don't give their staff member a clean handoff.
Often they don't clarify expectations (of outcome, of reporting, of authority, etc.) and then they rush in when they job isn't done right to ZAP the staff member.
I've met many business leaders who actually want their team members to fail (although they don't see this about themselves) because it allows them to feel better about themselves as they step in to "correct" the behavior. They would rather be proven right then to give the help to their team member and help them succeed.
3. Trust violations.
With our business coaching clients we call these "Integrity Fouls".
Integrity Fouls include a business leader acting in contravention of the company's best interests (e.g. letting poor performance of a well-liked team member slide; giving self-preferential treatment; etc.)
They also include the business leader not honoring his or her word (e.g. consistently being late for meetings; not meeting deadlines or commitments; etc.)
As a leader of a business your actions (and mis-actions) have an oversized impact. Your team watches you very closely. Over the long run they see everything. Make sure you are modeling the values and behaviors you want them to take on. Ask yourself, "How would I feel if every member of my team acted this way?"
4. Not Taking the Time to Know Your Team.
Your team is made of individuals, each with their own dreams, ambitions, hopes, likes, and dislikes. As a leader you need to learn from them what matters most to them. How do they want to be managed? What do they consider an emotional bank account deposit? What do they consider withdrawal? What inspires them? What degrades or deadens them?
I personally keep a 4x6 index card listing the key insights I've learned about managing my key team members, and I review these index cards each week. Does this take time and effort? Of course, by your team is worth it, and the return on investment is high.
5. Rushing with Your Team.
There is an old cliché with a lot of truth to it: With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.
Be careful that in your rush for efficiency you don't hurt your relationship with your key team.
Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is to slow down and spend a little more time with your team instead of rushing them out the door so they can get back to work.
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