The second article of two on the Mistakes Managers Make is from an excerpt I wrote for CEO Russia magazine last winter. While they may seem like novice mistakes, they can actually be devastating to an organization. All managers are susceptible to making these mistakes, whether an apprentice or a veteran, no one is exempt!

Mistake #3: Lack of communication and acknowledgment.

People don’t need to be praised all the time to do good work, but they do need to know that they are appreciated for the work they are doing. That comes in the form of good communication at all levels and setting precedence for acknowledgment for the small and big stuff. As I like to say, words are powerful, use them wisely. A word can build up a team and tear down an organization, all in the same breath.

This is perhaps the most common and most devastating mistake I have seen in my years working with organizational change. Most commonly this appears when there is a large change initiative gaining momentum.  People (leaders) get moving so fast, while that they are not clearly or frequently communicating the direction they want to head. Why? They are clear in their own mind of the direction and why, however they aren’t communicating that down to the staff.

It is key for a leader to learn that taking time to talk about the good, bad or ugly, is more important than trying to push people to do what they want or to protect them from the truth.  The truth may be hard to tell sometimes and our employees would rather hear it, than fallacies.

Our employees want the acknowledgment that they can handle the hard stuff and by being open with communication, we tell them we trust them.  This creates an opportunity to cultivate a climate where people are involved and important, which is at the heart of strengthening our teams.

Mistake #4: Turning off the volume.

One of the most tragic actions a leader can take is to turn off the volume in their office. With the chaos and challenges that they face day in and day out, at some point they stop listening to what is going on around them.

Equally important to leaders effectively articulating their vision for the organization, leaders must remain open to hearing what the teams around them are saying. When they close off to the chatter, there is a marked decrease in motivation, job satisfaction, loyalty and organization productivity.

Leadership isn’t about imposing the leader’s solo dream, it’s about developing a shared sense of destiny. It’s about enrolling others so that they can see how their own interest and aspirations are aligned with the vision. All of which requires a keen sense of listening on behalf of the leader. Too often leaders will get singularly focused on a bright shiny object in their path and close themselves off to those around them that are there to promote the vision, the organization forward.

While managing with a collaborative mindset is key to success, it is equally important to define for staff members the boundaries and when no is simply, no. A good manager is one who knows their place on the team is equal to the sum of the whole, holds their team as capable, powerful, resourceful and creative while communicating openly and acknowledging the small stuff along the way. A good leader builds a sense of trust and collaboration as they also acknowledge their own fault line (because, we all have one.)

Coaching Questions:

  • How do you react to sharing the good news?
  • What about the bad news?
  • What methods of open communication do you currently employ?
  • When have you taken the communication ‘temperature’ of your staff?
  • How is your volume control? Are you actively engaged in listening?