The Top 5 Pitfalls of Managing People

Richard Dunks
February 10, 2011

There are five main pitfalls to how companies manage their people. How firms handle these five key issues is a good indicator of whether they will be dealing with HR issues such as lack of motivation, negative workplace culture and high staff turnover, which impacts on a business in many ways.

1. Ignoring your staff

Management means that you are meant to ‘manage’; this requires action. Uninspiring managers are seldom capable of motivating staff to reach and strive for their brilliant best.

Be an active manager with your people, not the invisible man or woman. If you don’t know and understand your staff, you’re missing out on achieving performance excellence. Make the time to talk to each of your staff privately and develop a professional rapport.

Identify the issues that are stopping your staff from doing their job well and reaching their full potential. Get your HR manager to organise a confidential staff survey to assist you to work out the real business issues and address them.

2. Trying to be a pal, not a manager

Understand the difference between being a friendly, polite professional manager and trying to be a ‘friend’ to your staff—being both at the same time is near impossible. Many of your staff will be put off, some will wonder about your ability to lead and about the issue of confidentiality.

Be friendly and approachable but understand that being a friend is a behaviour that may compromise your ability to lead your team; at the very least it will not allow you to be objective about decision making.

Be clear, professional, inspiring and motivational. Give meaningful and positive feedback, be approachable and friendly. These are the qualities that will assist you gain the nirvana of all management statuses—respect. If you inspire people and have their respect, this is when you actually have people in the workplace who are excited to be there.

3. Being rudeness personified

Nobody enjoys being bullied, harassed, sworn at, intimidated, humiliated in front of the team or have their ideas stolen (without recognition) by the boss. Staff always remember how the boss has treated them—if treated poorly, they will leave at the first opportunity. If you are after respect, being rude is the surest way to blow it in a second. Nine times out of 10, people leave managers, not companies.

4. Ignoring the elephant in the room

If someone in your team is being harassed by someone in the organisation, chances are people will know about this. They will be waiting for you, as the manager, to do something about it.

This is where a good HR manager is very useful to assist you in professionally addressing these types of issues that do eventuate in the workplace. Situations can get very complex with many delicate legal matters to consider, so ask for help and take action.

5. Putting your mouth into gear before your brain

Strategically think through your plans to understand the repercussions and business benefits of change. Consult, gather information and execute your business changes professionally.

We’ve all seen examples of the disorganised manager who makes a decision then changes his or her mind, with a major impact on staff, their job roles and working life. Remember, ‘do what you say and say what you do’.

Author avatar
Richard Dunks
Richard Dunks is the managing director of Vantage Performance, a consultancy that specialises in executive search, interim management and HR consulting and excels at business transformation.
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