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10 biggest employee management mistakes

Even if our mistakes provide the best material for learning, managers supervising the work of other people should minimize the impact of their errors on the professional lives of their team members. Here’s a list of 10 most important and widespread employee management mistakes and some tips to help you avoid them.

1. Failure to communicate

You’d be surprised to learn in how many organizations the vast majority of employees have no clue about what’s going on. Some managers firmly believe that information is power and strive to have full control over it. Being the most knowledgeable ones, they consider themselves more valuable to the organization.

There are managers who avoid social situations where they can communicate with employees. Others simply don’t make the effort of communication with employees on a regular basis, instead allowing other tasks take precedence and selectively ‘forgetting’ to tell their employees about some things.

In today’s unstable economy, organizations can only prevail with a widespread dissemination of information and efficient communication practices. Information empowers employees to make the best decisions at lowest levels in the organization without the constant approval of supervisors, rendering the entire company operation much more efficient.

2. Lack of clear goals and expectations

Effective communication of goals and expectations is key for defining the direction which should be taken by the organization. Managers who don’t set goals with their employees will never motivate them to start working towards that vision of who they want to be in the future.

Managers should meet with employees and communicate their expectations, so workers can develop attainable goals to guide them in their efforts to achieve the manager’s vision. It’s not a good idea to leave employees in the dark – you should be there to help them, just as they will help you and your organization by working hard to achieve those goals.

3. Issues with task delegation

Many management surveys consider the inability to delegate tasks a top reason for management failure. As a manager you cannot expect yourself to do every single thing required at the organization. And even if you try, you’ll find out that this is not the best way to use your talent as a manager.

Delegating work to employees, you’ll multiply the amount of work you can do. Even if a project seems overwhelming, it’s enough to divide it into tasks and delegate them to a dozen of different employees. Delegating tasks, you’re also creating opportunities for employees to develop their skills and qualifications.

Whenever you’re about to take on a new assignment or work on an ongoing job, ask yourself whether one of your employees can do it instead. If the answer is positive, delegate it with no further questions.

4. Not providing feedback

Failure to provide feedback in a timely manner is considered one of the most common mistakes made by leaders. Understood in plain terms, feedback is what offers your employees opportunities for growth by improving their performance on the job. By not giving feedback, you’re withholding that chance for professional development, showing that you don’t genuinely care about them.

This is why you should learn how to provide regular feedback to your team. It’s important to do it in the right context and instantly after you observe a mistake – this way your employees will find it easier to understand and apply in the future.

5. Not making enough time for employees

Many managers don’t realize that they’re an important resource to their employees. While some might consider you a mentor, others will see you as their parent or coach. You simply need to make time for them to provide guidance during the course of their careers. Management is essentially a people job and people are at the center of it. Without giving them a portion of your time, you risk failing at your task.

Some workers might need your time more than others and it’s your job to assess your employees’ individual needs and address them accordingly. Your most experienced employees will require less supervision than those who are new to a job or task. Be available to employees who visibly need to talk to you. Grant them your undivided attention when they interact with you. You’ll improve your communication and show that you genuinely care about them.

6. Being too remote

Imagine the following situation: one of your employees has just finished a key part of an important project. What comes out is that he or she misunderstood the project’s specification and you never bothered to stay in touch with them while they were working on it. Now you face a part of project completed in the wrong way and you’re the one who has to explain it all to a dissatisfied client.

Wouldn’t it be just easier to keep in touch while the employee was working on the protect? Avoiding strict micromanagement is a strategy which has a point, but going to the opposite extreme isn’t a good idea. You need to balance these two management styles to achive maximum efficiency and make sure that processes in the project are streamlined.

7. Not recognizing employee achievement

With difficult economy come things like constant changes, increased worker uncertainty and downsizing – and in this context it’s crucial to recognize employees for their performance. Many managers believe that it’s important to reward employees for their effort, but most of them have absolutely no idea about how to do it.

Consequently, they never take the time or effort to recognize the achievement of their employees. What they forget is that a personal and written recognition from the manager doesn’t cost anything and can be the most effective reward. Taking a minute or two to recognize your employees’ achievement is a must. It will boost their morale and improve their performance. All in all, recognition is simply worth it.

8. Being too friendly

Many managers find it hard to strike a healthy balance between being liked and respected. People are definitely happier to work for someone they get on with, but sometimes managers need to make tough decisions regarding workers in their team – and this is the moment when employees might be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you’re too friendly with them.

This doesn’t mean that managers can’t socialize with other employees, but maintaining the balance between being a friend and being a boss is key here. In every interaction with your employees, you should set clear boundaries so team members are never tempted to take advantage of you.

9. Hurrying through recruitment

When a team has a large workload, it’s important to have enough people on board to work efficiently on the project. Many managers tend to make hasty recruiting decisions – they’re in a hurry and desperately need someone to fill a vacant role. Little do they know that such rushed recruitment can have disastrous effects on the entire team.

New employees might turn out to be unproductive, uncooperative or simply ineffective in their work. They might slow down the team by requiring intensive training before getting to work. Hiring a wrong person is an immense loss of resources – especially if they leave. Other team members might grow frustrated by having to carry the load of the under-performer. That’s why you should never hurry through recruitment and think twice before bringing in a new member to your team.

10. Not giving a good example

Mangers should give the example. You’ll look like a hypocrite if you forbid others to make personal phone-calls while chatting away about your day every afternoon. Leaders are role-models for the team. If your employees need to stay late, you should be there to help them. If your organization has certain rules, you should make sure to always follow them.

Your team is watching you all the time and picking up things you might not even be aware of. If you sport a negative attitude, don’t be surprised when your team does the same. If you want to work on their behavior, better start with your own. You’ll see them soon following suit.

Avoid making these mistakes and you’ll be on your way to developing excellent employee management skills and setting the right tone for maximizing productivity of your team.

About the Author: Carol Williams is a HR team member at where she has gained a lot of insight into employee management. She likes to share her expertise through writing and addressing HR and leadership issues.


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