How to avoid common management mistakes

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Taking on the role of a people leader comes with plenty of ups and downs but, luckily, each mistake can lead to positive changes and continuous growth and development

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on 15Five

We turned to our community of 15Five managers and asked them to share some of the biggest mistakes they’ve made as people leaders that led to them becoming better managers.

Managing for the first time

“As a new manager I spent a lot of time managing down when, in reality, I should have been managing up and out. I felt the need to protect and, at times, hand-hold for fear that my direct reports would take on tasks and projects they couldn’t handle. This hindered me from being the coach my direct reports needed. I should have allowed them to take on what they felt they could handle, provided support, and helped them to cut down distractions that detracted from their overall growth.”

“When I first started managing people, I was younger than those I managed; my age and lack of experience gave me a feeling of imposter syndrome. As a result, I began to work harder, longer, taking on more and more to gain respect and build my team’s (read: my) confidence. I was setting a pretty bad example of self-care, and burning myself out at the same time. I learned that my actions created frustration and fear in my team and, overall, wasted time and money.”

Improving performance through feedback

“Without a structure or company culture that embraces difficult feedback, it can be extremely hard to have that conversation – but holding back on necessary feedback can damage relationships and, ultimately, doesn’t help others grow, which is one of the main elements of managing.”

“Delaying performance nudges, or not giving them at all, is not a good idea. As uncomfortable as it is, delaying/not giving performance nudges does a disservice to your direct reports and yourself as a manager. Feedback is key to developing your people and achieving your goals. You can’t expect someone to learn and grow if you don’t bring attention to the things they need to improve on. Normalise performance nudges and they’ll get easier over time.”

Becoming a better communicator

“Document everything! Every issue, problem and important topic that’s discussed in your one-on-ones should be properly documented and dated. This will be helpful if you have to make difficult decisions in the future and give you something to reference when conducting reviews and creating support plans. Make this a habit early on!”

“Always have crucial conversations in-person. I’ve made the mistake of communicating asynchronously in a document with an employee instead of having the conversation in real-time and face-to-face. How you choose to communicate matters just as much as what you’re communicating”

Create role clarity and set performance agreements early and often. We live in an ever-changing world, and an ever-changing business landscape. Your role and responsibilities that were agreed upon three months ago may not be the same today. As soon as you see your role change, update your performance agreement immediately. This will help you with everything from goal-setting to compensation decisions and performance reviews.”

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