Updated: Feb 6
Before you read this, remember that becoming better at anything needs consistent effort in the right direction.
Image credit: Pixabay
How many times have you been in a conversation with your direct reports where you talked about an issue or low performance, and they said, “Oh, I didn’t know this was expected of me.”
Being a manager (a good one) might be your goal or dream, but to achieve this, you need to know what you want from your people. Which is something many managers lack. Their lack of clarity results in their direct reports’ poor or mediocre performance and increases managers’ workload, eventually causing frustration and burnout.
As a developing manager, I have learned several things I wish I had known and implemented earlier. It took me almost 3 years to figure out management, and I often felt something was wrong with me.
Thanks to my mentor, who made me understand that becoming an efficient manager takes years of practice. I’m fortunate that he has been there to support and guide me in my journey, but many others don’t have such support. This motivated me to write and help those who want to grow as a manager.
Let's understand the top 7 mistakes managers make so you can avoid committing them too.
Assuming that communication is all about language: Many assume that an excellent command over language ensures good communication, which is false. Look at this example:
“Joe: Please review this AI tool and tell me if it’s worth using.
Chloe: Here are the pros and cons.
Auto-generated content is usable when the prompts/ instructions are very specific, complete with Tone, Specific Topic, and Keywords. Format and sentence structure tends to repeat, though, so it needs quite a bit of editing.
AI writer mode (without any template) could be helpful in homepage articles as the topics are specific, and the AI saves time on research.
Content Improver template (used for rewriting) generates better content when adjusted for length.
Listicle template generates repetitive text and tends to repeat style and format too.
Might run the risk of plagiarism if used for listicles, as most filler words tend to be the same, and editing that would be more time-consuming than writing from scratch.
Final Rating — 3.5/5
It might look like Chloe gave a thorough review, but did you notice that she never answered the main question — “if the AI tool is worth using or not.”
Before executing the task, she needs to define “worth using.” For example, does a 3.5 score make the tool worth it? It’s unknown in this example, so putting so much effort into writing an in-depth explanation might just waste time.
The focus here should be on establishing a common understanding of “worth using.” A detailed review should be shared only if it supports the final answer.
2. Not setting clear expectations: A drastic mistake. Managers tend to have expectations from their people but often fail to communicate them clearly. Then one day, they realize that a direct report is not performing as it should —providing constructive feedback becomes difficult because the manager never sets clear expectations and goals.
I recently interviewed a few people for my company, Klarecon, and 4 out of 5 applicants mentioned that they want their manager to set clear goals and expectations for them, so they know where they’re headed. You see that?
3. Not working with deadlines: I learned this the hard way. Delegating tasks without deadlines means letting people decide when those tasks will be done.
It’s applicable even when working on your tasks. For example, if you give yourself a week to finish a job, you tend to drag it until the week is over.
In most cases, if you assign yourself a shorter deadline, you’ll notice that you still complete the task. It may take more than the allotted time for some complex projects, but this principle holds true in general.
4. Forgetting about the responsibility monkey: Managers, especially those new to this role, tend to believe their responsibility is passed to someone else’s shoulder once they delegate tasks.
Even if you don’t execute a delegated task yourselves, the responsibility monkey stays on your shoulder. The extent of overseeing depends on the skill level of the task performer and the height of trust you put into them. The more skilled they are, and the more you trust them, the less the amount of overseeing required from you.
Just set clear expectations, deadlines, and reporting structure. Then, track and evaluate promptly, and you’re good.
5. Not challenging their people enough: I used to be like this :D
Just like my previous self, several managers are either too afraid of mistakes that might happen if they give a new or challenging task to their team members, OR they prefer doing it themselves because they can do it faster. It could be true, but it’s not sustainable in the long term.
You will become a bottleneck for the wrong reasons and struggle to move on to newer opportunities.
6. Not preparing a backup for themselves: The moment you become a manager, you should start thinking about your successor. You may think of this as a threat, but it’s not. If you’re performing consistently well, your company won’t ditch you so easily unless there is a substantial financial crisis they cannot survive.
What could happen if you have a backup ready:
You can take on a new opportunity whenever it comes across without worrying about the project or operation you handle now. And since the management knows that you were able to prepare a successor for your current role, your name may appear first when it’s time for the next big thing in your company.
You can rest well on your sick days knowing that your team will still function properly and your clients will be attended to.
You can go on a vacation and enjoy it.
What could happen if you don’t have any backup:
You’ll be stuck in your current position and might have to let go of a brilliant opportunity.
You might get sleepless nights even when you’re sick or on vacation, thinking about what’s happening at work.
You may not get enough time to upskill yourself.
7. Not working with SOPs: Don’t have general or project-specific SOPs? Start preparing them now, so you reduce knowledge-based dependency on yourself.
Imagine managing a dynamic team of freelance writers in a content writing agency. Now imagine onboarding 10+ writers at a time. If you have a one-on-one onboarding session with each of them, you won’t be able to finish it even after spending your entire day on it.
Now think about having a well-maintained onboarding SOP that you can share every time you welcome a recruit and save tens of hours. What a relief, right?
That’s not it. Having proper SOPs in place helps you delegate training as well, i.e., you don’t have to be the sole trainer anymore.
Management is a challenging feat. You need to be consistently hungry to improve. Be it managing yourself or a team of people, firm control over your schedule is of utmost importance.
The majority of your time should be spent on growth-related activities and not just managing day-to-day routines. Treat your time as the most valuable asset (which it is), and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better manager.
That’s it for this topic :)
Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this valuable.