The Top 7 Mistakes that Managers Make

Ken Warren

Let me start by saying there are no perfect people. So, our managers are entitled to make their share of mistakes along with the rest of us. That is, as long as they learn something from these experiences and don’t keep making the same mistakes.


So, here are the top 7 mistakes I see managers make. See if you can relate or recognise someone you know.

  1. Forgetting the importance of relationships: Team members want to feel treated as genuine human beings by their manager, not related to solely as the role they are doing. Good relationships build goodwill and trust, improve motivation, and elicit more cooperation.So, the time managers spend getting to know people, letting colleagues get to know them, asking about what team members do in their free time, and supporting them with challenges they may be having at home or work, is time well-spent.Dare I suggest that supporting their people is the most important thing that managers do. I recall a young man who introduced himself to me as a manager for a particular bank. “How many people do you support?”, I asked. “I don’t work in a support role”, he said. “I am a manager”. Very telling, I thought.
  2. Failing to provide clear direction: The absence of clear direction often leaves team members floundering, pulling in different directions, and feeling overwhelmed with too many priorities.Clear direction about priorities is one thing. But managers also need to communicate clear expectations of individual team members or the team overall. Otherwise, team members can easily get out of step or be left wondering if their performance is on track for their manager.
  3. Too much top-down decision-making: There are times to be firm and decisive, of course. But over-using this approach leaves people feeling micromanaged or that their opinion doesn’t count, inhibits creative solutions, and leaves people feeling that being ‘consulted’ is a waste of time.In defence of managers who do this, they are often being decisive, not collaborating, because they understand how busy their people are.However, if people are feeling devalued or pushed around too much, they find a way of pushing back – resisting change directly or indirectly, getting stuck in negativity, or contributing to an ‘us and them’ mentality with management.
  4. Not being transparent about what they know: There is no doubt that managers need to keep certain matters confidential, such as private matters that are confided to them by individuals, certain personnel matters, or points of disagreement or dynamics within the leadership team.But when leaders are not open about those things they are allowed to repeat - such as what they know about a significant change – this lack of transparency erodes trust in their leadership. The lack of transparency also results in team members making their own assumptions about what is going on - usually negative ones.
  5. Not addressing serious or ongoing problems: I recall a team of primary school teachers where difficulties between two colleagues had been allowed to fester. Over time, this situation deteriorated where the well-being of the entire team was affected and formal grievances flew back and forth. You can imagine the impact on this team’s performance.When ongoing, serious problems, such as these are not addressed, people tend to look at other options for employment. And, often, it is the higher-performing team members who are first to leave as they are more employable.
  6. Not giving balanced feedback: I often hear two types of complaints about managers when it comes to feedback. The first is about leaders who give no feedback at all, leaving team members uncertain about whether they are meeting the expectations of their manager. I also hear complaints about managers who are quick to give critical feedback, but seem not to notice the efforts that their people are putting in.We all know the importance of giving balanced feedback. But some managers get caught in their busyness. Or they have tried to give balanced feedback, met with a defensive response and given up, leaving performance concerns to continue and frustrations to build in their team.
  7. Not injecting positivity at work: Some workplaces I have walked into have all the atmosphere of a funeral parlour. People are so miserable or stressed they are withdrawing from others and focusing just on their own work.

Managers who contribute to misery, or who fail to inject laughter and appreciation at work, miss opportunities to counter stress and contribute to the well-being of their colleagues. Here I am reminded of the high-performing teams I work with, who are dealing with high levels of stress, but who are frequently laughing and celebrating the wins that are there.

Do you recognize yourself or someone else in the above? We have to remember that we are all imperfect and, often, we are all doing the best we know how. The good news is that challenges do provide opportunities for learning. I often say that if you learn from your mistakes, I have to be one of the smartest people around.


Ken Warren BA, M Soc Sc, CSP is a Relationships Specialist who helps teams to perform at their very best. Through his enjoyable and interactive training programs, Ken will help you to:

  • Build even stronger, more positive and effective teams
  • Handle difficult conversations in a more confident and positive way
  • Enhance your resilience and well-being at work

Check out all of his free resources through www.positivepeoplesolutions.com.au

Drake’s P3 behavioural and skills assessments help managers understand personal performance strengths and gaps. By understanding their personality traits and conflict handling styles, they can enhance their managerial performance and success.

For in-depth articles on talent management, get your FREE subscription to the Drake Business Review magazine. Our global publication focuses on your talent management issues and provides solutions from thought leaders and industry experts around the world.


What Not to Say to Someone Who's Depressed

Drake Workwise

Worried about putting your foot in it? It's important to discuss mental health with people you care about, but if you don't use tact and compassion, your help may do more harm than good.


Read more


Celebrating Women in Leadership at Drake Medox - I...

Drake Editorial

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The global theme for International Women’s Day in 2021 is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. COVID-19 has impacted women and girls in profound ways, amplifying the inequalities they face every day. It is fundamental that diverse women’s voices and experiences are central to national and global recovery plans.

Read More


How to reduce staff turnover by spotting the 10 si...

Drake Editorial

It's a bitter pill to swallow, but regardless of how good your organisation is, employees are always going to leave. The question is, how can you minimise the number of resignations?

Read more


The Need to Build Trust and Improve Communication ...

Marie-Claire Ross

In the hybrid work environment that we now find ourselves in soft skills have become more important than ever. A recent survey conducted by recruitment specialist Drake International found that organisations that have been working remotely now consider communication (84.5%), work ethic (47.6%), followed by adaptability (38.8%) to be the most critical to productivity. 

Read more


The Positive Impact of COVID on our Environment

Drake Editorial

There is no question, we have endured major disruption over the last two years though with all bad, comes good and rather than focusing on the negatives, it is helpful to consider the positives. The global pandemic has changed the way in which we live and work. For many months, workers were subjected to either working from home (WFH) or a hybrid model working both from home and the office. Despite some discomfort being confined to your home residence, often 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it had a vast, positive impact on the environment that became evident quite early in 2020. 

Read more


What is a micro-manager and why is it bad for busi...

Drake International

We’ve all heard the term, or even experienced a little dose of micro-management, you may have even been guilty of it yourself! It is easy to point the finger at a perceived micro-manager and label them as an aggressive, power-hungry monster. However, the psychology behind this behaviour is much more complex and can put even us ordinary folk at risk of micro-managing behaviour.

Read more