Our research about middle managers highlights that these leaders are doing a lot of good in the workplace. But like everyone else, they’re prone to error.
The old axiom, “People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses,” has some truth to it. Employees who have good, professional relationships with their managers and feel supported are more likely to be engaged in their work. Here are common errors that managers should watch out for.
Most managers start off like every other employee. They move up because they get things done. But once you’re in a managerial role, your job is to ensure that your team is doing its best. Resist the urge to just tackle projects yourself. Provide employees with guidance, make sure they have a plan, and then step aside. If you have to jump in too frequently, then that’s a problem with who you’ve hired.
Instant communication is the proverbial double-edged sword. It’s fast, frequent, and easy. But it’s also easy to be careless with directions or language. Don’t send emails or Slack messages when you’re angry — wait until your mind has cleared. Be sure to proofread your communications as well. Nothing expresses disrespect like an email littered with errors.
One thing that will drive your team nuts is micromanaging. Good managers pick and choose what they will provide feedback on. They keep a balance between paying attention to what employees are doing without always looking over their shoulders. If you truly can’t trust your employees, then you need to have a conversation with them.
The stereotype about middle managers is that they are ardent defenders of the status quo. They’re often in the middle of their career, and they have ideas about how things should be done. But excellent managers are agents of change. They’re the ones taking the grand vision of C-level executives and translating it into actionable items for their teams.
These days, we have access to plenty of information. Decision paralysis occurs in part because of this. Managers need to cut through the noise, find the relevant information, and make the call. Failure to do this means major initiatives won’t happen.
While managers need to provide constructive feedback, employees who constantly hear about what they’re doing wrong are bound to be unhappy. Be on the lookout for good work and don’t be afraid to let employees know that they’ve done well. Creating a culture that values praise is an employee engagement win.
Our research has found that only one-third of employees believe that their company provides adequate growth opportunities. Fight to have your employees regularly attend conferences or other relevant industry events. An inexpensive way to encourage professional growth is through in-house mentorships.
It’s not a problem if these are one-time mistakes that you recognize and fix. However, making chronic mistakes and not realizing it can lead to major problems. That’s why reflecting on your performance and finding ways to change is essential.