Much has been written about the secrets of good management and few will argue that the best managers are inspired, visionary, dedicated, industrious, energetic, energizing and display integrity, leadership, common sense and courage. So where is it that managers commonly fail or falter and lose their precious foothold on the corporation’s top rungs? The following, from the career experts at bayt.com, are ten of the most basic management traps and tips to avoid them:
Weak managers set weak goals
As a manager your role is to get specific jobs completed by employees in the most optimal, efficient and innovative manner and in order to do that, you need to set clear objectives. Successful managers set SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. They are able to communicate these goals clearly, simply and concisely to their employees so that none are vague or uncertain about expectations. By all means reach for the stars in your objectives but to do so without supplying employees with the training, resources, flexibility and freedom they need to accomplish their goals and a schedule of regular supervision and feedback is to set them (and yourself) up for failure.
Weak managers micro-manage – effective leaders inspire
The days of command and control organizations are long over – today’s managers recognize that in order to leverage their skills and maximize their team’s output they need to adopt a flexible approach and ‘lead’ their teams to excellence rather than closely supervise, instruct and control them. The best leaders communicate to their employees a vision and ignite in them the fire, motivation and desire to work towards making this vision a reality. Good leaders unleash their employees to innovate and achieve optimal solutions by communicating top-level goals and objectives and a suggested blueprint for success then leaving the employees to determine how to get there most optimally while ensuring they have the aptitudes, training, resources and work environment necessary to achieve superior results. While a program of regular feedback and supervision is essential, managers should ensure that their management style is not repressive, meddling or overly overbearing. The golden rule is to communicate the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the work that needs to be done and leave the employees to determine the ‘how’ without burdening them with strict instruction manuals or prescribed rules and patterns that are largely redundant and inconducive to speed, creativity, progress and innovation.
Weak managers are afraid of hiring/cultivating strong leaders
Strong leaders/managers have the self-confidence to hire the best people, take them to new levels and cultivate in them all the qualities needed to make them in turn effective leaders of the future. Weak leaders replicate themselves in their hiring decisions and hire mediocre players, mistakenly believing that an employee with more skills, acumen or industry knowledge than themselves will ultimately undermine them or make them look bad. The best managers are characterized by an ability to stimulate their employees to superior performance and through coaching, training, feedback as well as by example, inspire in them all the qualities needed to make effective managers. A good manager helps employees achieve their full potential and constantly raises the bar so that employees never stop learning, innovating and growing. Coaching, training, career planning and programs for ongoing growth and development of key staff are high on the priority lists of the best managers.
Weak managers belittle their employees
Bosses who favour the archaic ‘tough’ management style where employees are singled out for public reprimand and negative feedback is plentiful while recognition and positive reinforcement are scarce will fail to win the loyalty, respect and commitment of their teams over the long run. Without an inspired, fired up, self-confident employee base these managers set themselves and their teams up for failure. Effective leaders by contrast, respect their employees and give them regular feedback with intelligent constructive criticism and loudly laud special accomplishments in both public and private, while communicating any negative feedback ONLY in private and focusing such criticism strictly on the job performance, not the person’s character. Strong leaders recognize and reward a job well done. These leaders inspire their teams to perform at their best and are able to elicit from them a high degree of loyalty and a ‘hunger’ to raise the bar and continuously excel. In such organisations, employees are not afraid to challenge their boss’s ideas or upset the status quo in the interest of innovation and excellence and are encouraged to take risks to elevate the business to a new level. The autocrats and bureaucrats on the other hand sap their employees’ self-confidence, drive and energy with their overbearing management style and fail to induce in them any motivation to raise the bar or excel.
Weak managers have obsolete skills-strong leaders constantly reinvent themselves
In today’s knowledge-driven economies and highly competitive environment, skills, training and education rapidly become obsolete and effective managers know that they must constantly re-educate themselves and update their skills to maintain an edge. While over-confident managers with an inertia to further education fall by the wayside, good managers regularly take an honest inventory of their skills and abilities and upgrade their technical knowledge and soft skills wherever appropriate. They encourage their teams to do likewise with sound career planning and performance appraisal programs and an emphasis on training and self-education.
Weak managers have poor communication skills
Good communication includes cultivating and maintaining open channels of communication with the team and others in the organisation, giving constructive, intelligent feedback, eliciting ideas through brainstorming sessions or otherwise, articulating the company vision and mission in no uncertain terms, setting clear objectives and listening attentively with an open-mind to employees grievances, suggestions and any other issues. Effective leaders have an open-door policy that welcomes input, suggestions and feedback from employees and recognize that good ideas and the next best idea/process/innovation can come from anywhere. Strong leaders listen; weak leaders talk. Strong leaders pay attention to their employees and encourage them to express professional opinions and ask for more responsibility; weak leaders think they are above such open-door policies. Employees who are not listened to and are not made to feel important or respected as professionals or individuals are unlikely to innovate or express any exciting new ideas that can move a company forward.
Weak managers blame
Everybody makes mistakes and strong leaders protect their good people from taking the fall when they err. Good bosses recognize that the occasional slip-ups are inevitable and can be learning opportunities and are ready to take personal responsibility when the team makes a misstep. A good boss realizes that his most promising employees want to succeed, will grow as a result of their mistakes and are unlikely to repeat the same mistakes. They do no set their people up as a negative example for the rest of the organization nor point fingers when the going gets tough. Good bosses are personably accountable for their actions as well as the actions of their subordinates and do not allow a culture of blame to permeate the organisation.
Weak managers take full credit for their team’s accomplishments
While weak leaders usurp all the credit for a job well done by their teams, the strongest leaders will give the full credit to the team as a whole or the team member responsible for the project. Strong leaders motivate, energize and inspire by giving credit where credit is due and being generous with reward and recognition wherever appropriate. Strong leaders publicly thank their employees for a job well done and recognize that a motivated, successful, energized team will reflect directly on the boss.
Weak managers thrive on bureaucracy
Weak leaders are fond of, augment and live well with the layers and bureaucratic shackles that tie an organisation down; strong leaders remove them. Today’s effective leaders recognize that in order to compete they must operate like a small company with a high level of speed, responsiveness and flexibility. They realize that to maintain their edge in today’s marketplace their organization needs to be responsive to changing market conditions and remove the shackles, boundaries, layers, clutter and obsolete policies, procedures and routines that get in the way of the freedom and free flow of people, resources and ideas.
Weak managers are divorced from their teams
Effective managers genuinely care about their employees and take the time to get to know them and to understand their strengths, weaknesses, what makes them tick and their goals and ambitions. They also take the time to learn something about their personal life. While weak managers will maintain an outdated aloofness and a formal distance from their teams, exceptional managers are able to bring out the best in every employee and win their loyalty and respect by understanding their unique needs, motivations and abilities and showing the team that they are important and personally significant. Strong managers are team players and through their constant involvement with their teams communicate to them that they are there for them and supportive of them. Effective managers by building a supportive work environment, build a camaraderie and team spirit that enthuses and excites the team to new levels of performance.