When Effective Managers Make Mistakes

Posted by Ty Hall on Thu, Jun 26, 2014  manager When I was growing up, my parents always warned me that it takes a lifetime to build up credibility, and only one moment to lose it. It’s true; I’ve seen it happen—and it especially applies to management.

In my news feed recently there were two stories about celebrities saying slurs that were caught on film, and now they are on an apology tour. Doubtless, not all of their fans have abandoned them, and in this world of social media and instant, round-the-clock news, it’s easy to forget peoples’ discretions. It’s not so easy in the workplace, however, especially in a small one. Once a manager loses face, his or her employees will remember it for a very long time and, depending on the blunder, never forget. That being said, a manager can lose credibility over a longer period of time. Here are the reasons why, and how they can be remedied.

Micromanaging work. Not only is micromanaging extremely annoying, it instills in the employees a lack of trust in their skills and abilities. Managers need to trust their employees—they were hired for a reason—and delegate work without feeling the need to double- or triple-check. Besides, it frees up time a manager can spend doing other managerial duties.

On the flip side of that coin, providing absolutely no guidance or advice can be equally disheartening. With no feedback, employees may feel ignored or even forgotten. With the number of millennials entering the workforce, managers need to expect their employees to want mentorship. Feedback is not the same as micromanagement; give feedback freely, and be prepared to give your view when asked.

Setting unrealistic goals is an easy, and not necessarily bad, trap to fall into. For whatever reason, good or bad, managers are sometimes given deadlines they have to meet. But if this is a regular occurrence—employees are consistently not meeting a timeframe—it may be a good idea to discuss with employees the goals, timeframe, and general tasks of the next project. Deadlines are unavoidable, communication at least allows employees to know what’s on the manager’s table, and what they need to do to reach the goals in a timely fashion.

So, don’t withhold information, and never, ever, lie to employees (or anyone else for that matter). Good leaders and team members don’t keep information from each other. Not only can it be perceived as conceited or controlling, it breeds feelings of mistrust. Lying is always a bad idea, and possibly the fastest way to lose trust. Always make open, honest communication a top priority.

If a manager is not willing to accept responsibility, for their actions or the actions of their subordinates, they will quickly lose respect, and will not be in a leadership position for long. Even if an employee made a mistake, a good leader will own up to the actions of his or her company. If the manager themself makes a mistake, it should be addressed promptly and with sincere apology. Mistakes happen, and people are willing to accept that if they feel responsibility has been taken.

There are many ways for people to lose the trust they’ve built up over the course of their life. Mistakes happen and poor judgment is used occasionally by everyone. Some of the actions mentioned above (such as micromanagement and setting impossible deadlines) are innocent and, at times, unavoidable. But once a manger realizes he or she is creating a pattern, they should address the problem. A lot of it is simply perception. If you are a manager and would like to know how you are perceived in the workplace, there are steps and solutions you can take to measure your performance.

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