Everyone is bound to make occasional errors throughout their careers; and leaders are no different. After all, mistakes make for great learning and development opportunities, so if you make a mistake in your career chances are you can come back from it having learnt something useful. On the other hand, avoiding making any career mistakes at all is obviously preferred. Here are a few common mistakes that even good leaders make throughout their careers.
Being too quick to hire
Good leaders understand that if their team is overwhelmed with the workload, they’ll do whatever they can to expand. However, when it comes to recruitment, if you’re too quick to recruit a candidate and you opt for convenience over quality, further down the road your team’s workload may not have changed and you’re now responsible for funding an inadequate employee. To avoid making this very simple mistake, make sure you take time to recruit the right person and not to rush into anything so it looks like you’re actively addressing the problem. If you want to be picky about whom you hire then you’re well within your right as a good leader to do so. Just remember to be specific in the application and interview processes rather than asking generic questions and you’ll stand a higher chance of hiring the right candidate. Don’t be afraid of including members of your team in the interviewing process too – this will give you extra perspective of what your team needs from adding another pair of hands.
Whether it’s because you don’t want to overload your team with work or because you don’t feel you have the confidence to delegate annoying tasks to a member of your team, a good leader must never hoard the workload. This will only result in your team being unaware of what actually needs doing as well as feeling like they’re not being utilised – which is also a little detrimental for morale. Perhaps you feel slightly insecure; if you don’t delegate your work then you’re kept in a job because you’re indispensable. In the long term this is only going to be hassle for both you and your team. To get around making this mistake, always have meetings with your team and hand out the workload. If it’s a task that nobody really wants to do, make sure everyone takes turns in doing these types of tasks. This way, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture and not get bogged down with tasks you shouldn’t be responsible for.
Underestimating your team
Similar to my last point, not delegating work is an example of underestimating your team – so is delegating them with tasks that they’re more than capable to handle. Everyone has to do boring jobs from time to time but if you’re always giving menial tasks to the most skilled members of your team then you’re not using them efficiently. As team members they will only become unproductive if they’re not challenged from time to time. Take an opportunity to speak to them individually about what challenges they want in their role or any projects they want to take part on.
Not celebrating enough
A lot of leaders only make a big deal out of the negative things. How about when someone does something positive? Even if it was their objective to achieve you should still celebrate the team’s successes however small they may be. You may remember when you first started out and you felt really good about something – but it went unrecognised. Don’t be that kind of leader!
Not being keen on change
Adapting to change is never easy – especially among management. If your team want to try a new way of doing things you should entertain their ideas. Even if it’s not something you have to do you should always take their comments on board. You never know; it may well vastly improve things both for them and for you.
Micro-managing is the worst. It wastes everyone’s time and makes people feel patronised. It’s never good for team morale if you’re a micro-manager. You need to trust your team to do their jobs – and to do their jobs well – so you can focus on what you need to do as a leader. Be sure to be the kind of leader who can be approached for help when needed but knows when to back off and let their staff do their work. Nobody likes being coddled in their jobs. If you have a certain way of doing things and you don’t like the way someone is undertaking a task, just try and step back to see if their way works better.
On the other hand, being a complete ghost in the workplace can be just as damaging as micro managing. It means you trust your staff to do good work but at the same time it’ll make them feel a bit abandoned in the long run. If they have any problems they need to know you’ll be around for them – even if it’s something you directly can’t help them with. A good leader should always have some form of presence and good communication with their employees.
These are just a few good tips for new and experienced leaders when it comes to managing a team. It’s easy to assume your team may need lots of help or none at all. Try to find the right amount of balance so you’re not parenting your team – you’re managing and utilising every single person. If you’ve recently been promoted to a management role, changing your way of thinking can be hard but it can be done.