• Pablo Fernández

6 common management mistakes to avoid


This article was originally published by Aude David.


Everyone makes mistakes and managers are no exception. While some mistakes seem obvious, others are made in the belief that they are being done right. The book Errare Managerium Est lists the most common ones and explains how to avoid them.

Managers are not always sufficiently trained and many rely on their "common sense". But this can be misleading.


1. Not taking responsibility for mistakes

Trying to minimise mistakes is a good way to alienate your staff. On the contrary, acknowledging that a mistake has been made and apologising for it helps to recognise the difficult situation employees have been through and to restore a relationship that might otherwise deteriorate. Studies show that leaders who are able to make clear apologies improve their image.


In the same way, a manager who tries to blame his mistakes on someone else, or on the group, will be seen as an unreliable person, whereas assuming a mistake alone shows his ability to take responsibility and reinforces his image as a leader.


2. Sanctioning failures

It is important to give responsibility to your teams, but without support, it is unfair to blame them for their failures. The book Errare Managerium Est quotes a communications director who entrusts an inexperienced employee with the organization of a seminar, without being present for him, blames him for the dysfunctions, without mentioning the successes, and then keeps silent about the story.


Since then, the employee does not dare to take any initiative. Indeed, this attitude places him in psychological insecurity. Employees who know that they will be punished for the slightest mistake do not innovate. On the contrary, feedback without reproach allows progress to be made. A study on hospital nursing shows that the best units are those that report the most mistakes, because no one is made to feel guilty.


3. Thinking in the place of others

Some managers want to make their teams happy at all costs, sometimes without listening to what they really need. Not everyone has the same aspirations or ambitions. Thinking in the place of others, trying to improve their lot without first asking them if they are dissatisfied, is above all showing your teams that you are not listening to them.


The book Errare Managerium Est also cites several cases where a manager is surprised by a high level of dissatisfaction and/or absenteeism following a reduction in the diversity of tasks. He does not realize that if the working conditions are important, the content of the work is also important. And that specialisation is not an objective for everyone: a greater diversity of tasks also means less monotony, and therefore potentially greater motivation.


4. Not thinking enough about the objectives

Knowing what you want to achieve is important, but knowing how to achieve it is just as important. Goal setting can be dangerously counterproductive when it is poorly done. In one example, the manager of an accounting department set up a competition with his team to make them more productive. As a result, in order to win, the accountants only deal with the simplest files, no longer help each other and delays accumulate on complex files.


In the second case, to encourage the sharing of expertise, the managing director of a consulting firm sets activity objectives on the intranet. But the consultants are satisfied with vague information without added value. In both cases, the objectives do not solve the problem. It is better to clearly state the end goal and to reflect with your teams on the best way to achieve it.


5. Not consulting the field sufficiently

Judging employees to be eternally dissatisfied and refusing to take their feedback into account is a major management error. Just because dissenting voices are in the minority doesn't mean they are necessarily exaggerating the problems. But managers sometimes tend to give importance only to information that is favourable to them. Instead, they should proactively encourage employees to speak up about what's wrong, and increase the number of information channels.


The book also points out the problems that arise when a manager launches working groups to reorganise a department, only to find that it takes too long and decide unilaterally. Here, both the opinion and the work already done by the employees are denied. It is better to set a clear framework from the start and to get involved in the work of the groups to reframe as the need arises.


6. Displaying values but not enforcing them

Some people promote values only to fail to reward employees who actually apply them, which ultimately creates misunderstanding and rejection. The book cites the example of an architectural firm that promotes inclusive, progressive and participative values, but refuses to promote an architect whose collaborative management is not perceived as "manly" enough, not traditional enough, even though she has excellent results.


The stereotypes of leaders lead them to make decisions that contradict their stated values. It is therefore necessary to ensure that promotions are in line with the values conveyed, that they are based on objective results and not on outdated stereotypes.

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