Totally Random Musings from the Edge

Managerial Mistakes

12 February 2014

This article will take 7 minutes to read

Let’s be honest here. We’ve all suffered at some point in our careers from bad managers and/or ineffective leadership. Why is this the case?

Many (if not most) bad managers lack basic training in managing people. But, even more importantly, these same managers generally lack the core values, professionalism, initiative, sensitivity, character, and situational awareness needed to interact effectively all day long with people.


Please refer to Wheaton’s Law which is an internet axiom which states “Don’t be a dick.” It was originally used in the context of sportsmanship in online gaming but its scope was eventually expanded to apply to life in general.

Skills and techniques are relatively easy to teach, but values, beliefs, attitude, and character are much harder to teach and are much harder for managers to learn. Yet, these are the underlying soft skills that will most make managers a success or a failure.

These basic traits (values, beliefs, and attitude) fall under the very character of the manager. The consequence of not training character is not limited to diminished judgment and adaptive ability; it also impacts the manager himself. When a manager intentionally violates a code or institutional ethos while in the context of doing their job , then they are destroying the very bedrock of their self-respect and leadership skills.

In a modern organization that values it’s employees, you’ll want to hire and/or select managers who exhibit many (if not all) of the characteristics listed below. If you don’t then you’re only contributing to the problem.

  • Able to hold people accountable and responsible without taking punitive actions
  • Demonstrate leadership and clear direction
  • Believe in teamwork
  • Value people
  • Believe in frequent effective communication and listening
  • Want to create an environment where employees are empowered

There are fundamentally 6 mistakes that bad managers make:

1. Failing to provide clear direction to your employees

Managers quite often fail to create proper standards and provide empoyees with clear expectations so they know what they are supposed to do. That same manager will then wonder why those employees fail. If you make every task a priority, people will soon believe that there are no priorities.

2. Failing to trust your employees

When managers fail to trust their employees to do their jobs, their lack of trust plays out in a number of detrimental ways. Micromanaging comes to mind immediately. For example this manager will generally:

  1. resist delegating
  2. take back delegated work before it is finished if they find a mistake in it
  3. immerse themselves in overseeing the projects of others

3. Failing to react to problems and issues

Bad managers often think that an issue, whether it be a conflict or disagreement will just go away on its own if they ignore it. I hate to break it to you. It won’t. Issues will just get worse unless something changes or the issue is properly addressed.

4. Failing to get to know your employees

Developing a relationship with employees is a major key in managing those employees. While you don’t want or need to be their counselor you do want/need to know what’s going on in their lives. Knowing that the family dog died, expressing sympathy, or that his/her daughter graduated high school make you an interested, involved boss.

5. Making decisions and then asking people for their input

You cannot make a decision and then ask people for their feedback while ignoring said feedback. This, in reality, is an edict. You also should not create hierarchical steps and other roadblocks that teach employees that their ideas are subject to veto and then wonder why no one has any suggestions/feedback for improvement.

6. Failing to communicate effectively and withholding important information

The best form of communications is transparent in nature. While some information that you’re privy to might be confidential in nature share what you know as soon as allowable. Information is criticial for your employees to make good decisions. There’s a reason the phrase is: informed decisions.

7 Successful Management Traits:

1. Understanding your role

Management requires the ability to build and/or hire a team that can perform and shine. Don’t forget that Your success comes from their success. The manager’s role is to facilitate what people on the team do well and to remove any obstacles blocking the team from performing effectively.

For example, a financial executive who becomes the chief executive does not abandon his/her original expertise, but he/she does abandon their old role and embraces the role of mentor. If he/she doesn’t, they will smother their own baby. Don’t kill the baby

On the other hand, if an executive moves too far in the opposite direction, the result will be just as deadly. The person who clears obstacles for his team and obstinately protects them “no matter what” will lose sight of their shortcomings and lose sight of the mission.

Mission first and people always.

2. Keeping the team unified

Once you have the team solidified, stay alert for any sign of discourse. When you notice it, use the tools you have relied on throughout your career to strengthen interpersonal bonds. If that means creating situations in which your employees rally against you, then do so, but do it in a way that makes the condition temporal.

3. Do not fall victim to deference

Deference is a double-edged sword. If you get accustomed to having employees defer to you, you will stop growing as a manager. It will destroy, your credibility. Sometimes you have to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Reliance on other employees is another way to bond your team as you establish yourself as a self-aware leader.

4. Dealing with differences

Even if you have hired everyone around you and everyone seems to speak the same language, nobody thinks exactly the same way you do. You may follow the same process and have the same mental attributes, but you and your employees are different. And some of what they do may seem ridiculous to you.

To successfullly deal with these differences, you will need to be able to identify them. And then, once you have, you have to decide whether each is a source of strength for the organization, or is detrimental to the team.

5. Service Mentality

To successfully lead a team of talented people, you must focus on serving them. Your job is to clear obstructions, distractions and excuses. You streamline processes and keep the political nonsense at arms length.

6. Give personal attention

To become a great manager, you must make your employees success into your own success. Take the time to coach, train, and mentor them. Provide them regular feedback on their performance and their shortcomings knowing that your best employees will crave candidness and honesty. In short, make your employees feel valued.

7. Provide experience

Everyone, generally starts at the bottom of the food chain. Great employees care about where they want to go and will need your help to get them there. They know you were once in the same position they are in and want to see how to get to where you are today. So take some time to help your people understand the business. Expose them to every part of the operation to round off their skills. Develop and groom them to take over your position.


Bad Management is about not caring about anything other than yourself. Good Management isn’t in fact management at all but rather leadership. If you’re a good manager then you’re a leader. You can’t have one without the other.