Managers often get caught up in their day-to-day activities, and forget to focus on their employees. Getting caught in these leadership traps can be a drain on resources and cause your leadership to be questioned or dismissed. Focus on the positive changes you can make as a manager and you will see a positive response from your team.
Mistake: Complacency In Processes and Ideas
New ideas take a lot of time and energy. Managers sometimes find it easier to play it safe and stick with a process that they know already works. This may work temporarily, but in the long run this could lead your business into a slump. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electrics, once said, “Change before you have to.” He understood that how we do business today is changing at a rapid rate, and only the businesses that are willing to adapt quickly and keep making changes will survive.
Solution: Make appointments to brainstorm about possible ways to move forward. In addition to consciously making the effort yourself, listen to your employees’ suggestions. Many times, employees have brilliant new ideas but they do not share for fear of having their ideas ignored or ridiculed. Let them know you are open to listening and are interested in their creative solutions. Giving employees a forum to talk about their opinions will let them know you are on their side and open to new ideas. Plus, by allowing your employees to speak up, you are grooming the next generation of effective leaders.
Mistake: Getting Caught Up In Everyday Work Flow
It is easy to get caught up in the daily flow of business. Meetings and planned discussions pervade the workplace, filling every minute of your day and making the schedule your first priority.
Solution: A good way to break this cycle is to plan lunches with your coworkers where you aren’t forced to talk solely about one project. Allow a natural conversation to take place and you may find your employees have great ideas for many projects.
Mistake: Allowing Employees to Put Their Projects First
Have you ever approached an employee with a request for them to tackle a new problem, only to be told that they need to finish working on several other issues first? Many times what employees may think is a time-sensitive goal is actually less important, because managers have access to the bigger picture. Employees often prioritize by what is important for their team, not by what will benefit the company as a whole.
Solution: Do not be afraid to ask your employees to put projects on the back burner while they focus on a new issue. As a manager, you often have to look at the big picture for the company. While your employees may focus entirely on their own group projects, you need to be thinking about what tasks benefit the entire company. Do not accept postponement on projects that affect the whole workplace; make it clear when a project takes priority, while understanding that the team projects they have put aside will be shifted to a later timetable.
Mistake: Avoid Vague Goals and Promises
It is easy as a manager to see the bottom line and instantly become anxious. You want to improve the performance in your department as soon as possible. A common trap for leaders is to make a blanket statement, then expect employees to know how to carry out your wishes. Don’t word your goals for the year in vague uncertain terms. For instance, avoid statements like, “This year, we are going to sell 40% more of product X.”
Solution: Your employees need to know how you plan on achieving this goal. If you want to see results, provide them with detailed, step-by-step plans for how you wish to increase sales by such a marked percentage. If you have no idea how to make these goals a reality, set up a meeting and openly talk about the problems that have prevented you from reaching goals in the past. Continuously moving difficult problems off your plate and onto your team creates a resentful environment where they may feel that they are carrying the weight while you take the credit. Instead, let your employees know that you are part of the team and you are willing to contribute to a meaningful discussion on how to achieve challenging goals.
It is easy in daily business to simply get by and put off making changes until the proverbial “tomorrow”. However, a lack of leadership can take your team down an unproductive path. Do not wait for your employees to lose their drive before you implement changes. Avoid these common leadership traps and maintain your ability to grow and thrive as a successful leader.