Whether you’re in charge of a small team, a large department or the entire company, it’s a huge responsibility. Your level of skill and performance not only determines your own performance – you’ve got to get the best out of everyone.
But unless you’ve had the benefit of classical management training, most days you’ll be learning ‘on the job’ as part of the cut and thrust of business life. In fact, there are remarkably few hard and fast rules of management, which means the force of your personality and style of interaction is what matters most.
While there is no right or wrong when it comes to managing your team, we’ve put together the 5 most basic mistakes that you should avoid at all cost since they can adversely affect the performance and cohesion of the whole team.
‘A bad manager can take a good staff and destroy it, causing the best employees to flee and the remainder to lose all motivation.’
- Wanting to be a BFF, not a boss
‘You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.’ (Robyn Benincasa)
We all want to be liked but if there’s one thing you need to learn right from the beginning it’s that there’s a big difference between being a good friend and being a good boss. Of course your interactions with your staff should be friendly and accommodating, but you note that you’re not ‘one of them’. Your team will expect you to take a leading role. Rather than working on establishing your popularity as a person, you should be putting your efforts into earning the respect of your team.
- ‘Do as I say, not as I do’
‘Not in his speech, not in his thoughts, I see his greatness, only in his actions, in his life.’ (Hermann Hesse)
Good managers lead by example. Be clear about what you would like your department to achieve, and how to go about it, then make an active and positive contribution yourself. If you practise what you preach, you will not only inspire your team, you’ll command their respect and admiration. Conversely, if your workers see you acting ‘above the law’, with different standards applying to management and team, it causes frustration and unhappiness all round.
- Not giving feedback
‘We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.’ (Bill Gates)
Setting clear expectations and following up on a regular basis is good management practice. Prompt feedback is key if you want to put a stop to developing bad habits or undesirable behaviour in the team and encourage positive changes. Whether one of your staff routinely turns up late to work, spends too much time on their mobile or nips outside for a cigarette every hour, if it’s causing issues you need to speak up now. Equally, be generous with your praise – everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done.
- Not trusting your staff
‘A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.’ (Martha LaCroix)
Assuming you have a capable team with the right skills and motivation to perform to the best of their abilities, there’s every reason for you to feel positive about delegating more tasks which, in turn, will create some precious extra time for you. By not trusting your staff to do a good job, or feeling threatened in your position, not only are you making life harder for yourself, you are effectively stopping the team from developing to its full potential.
- Overbearing or under involved
‘The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.’ (Theodore Roosevelt)
It’s easy to overegg the pudding or be too hands off. The trick is to apply just the right amount of supervision. It’s a fine balance that may need tweaking if you’re in the habit of scrutinising every detail of every task or not taking an interest at all. While you should know exactly what your team is doing each day and check the standard of their work periodically, micromanaging is counterproductive and mistrustful, while leaving your staff to their own devices gives them no steer as to what is expected of them.