Fixing Common Management Mistakes

Discussion
Apr 04, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Ann Hawley Stevens, managing partner with the ClearRock executive coaching and outplacement firm, told The Associated Press there are five common mistakes managers make
today that can be easily corrected to improve organizational performance.

The mistakes on Ms. Stevens list include:

  1. Managing by memo and email – It may be faster to send notes but face-to-face contact helps reduce miscommunications and tears down barriers between managers and workers.
  2. Taking a pass on meetings – There may never seem to be enough time, but making time for staff meetings can improve communication throughout a business group.
  3. Not celebrating successes – Recognition of the accomplishments of individuals and groups goes a long way in building morale.
  4. Managing by the numbers – No two people are alike. To help employees reach their potential, managers need to understand the differences between how individuals work and what
    they want for themselves.
  5. Going it alone – Asking for help and advice is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. The goal is to achieve the objectives for the business. Great managers do not
    lose sight of this. Involving employees provides insights from a different perspective and creates a sense of joined performance among team members.

Moderator’s Comment: What new items or insights would you add to this list of common managing mistakes that can be corrected to improve organizational
performance within most businesses?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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15 Comments on "Fixing Common Management Mistakes"


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Paul Vogelzang
Guest
Paul Vogelzang
15 years 11 months ago

I would add to not be afraid of ideas that sound “silly” or “off the wall.”
I see this in government all the time. We get a mental block on new ideas, worrying about being right all the time.

John Cleese, from Monty Python, says: “High creativity is responding to situations without critical thought.”

Sometimes it helps the solution process to look beyond the obvious, and do the opposite of what the solution requires.

David Zahn
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

I would add to the list the following:

1) Explaining the objectives of the function (why we do what we do; who uses it; how do they use it; how is the end customer impacted; how is the supplier to our process best able to support our efforts, etc.).

2) Being clear on how the performance of the job/department/company is evaluated – and how they all support each other. (You would be amazed at how often there is conflict within companies because the evaluation system is skewed to create conflict.)

3) Providing the appropriate resources to get the job done. (Don’t ask people to do something without also giving them access, tools, or other requisite components of the successful completion of the task.)

Doug Fleener
Guest
15 years 11 months ago
I would add a few others. 1. Labeling those who speak out against the status quo as complainers. Managers, especially at the executive level, often get surrounded by people who tell them what they think they want to hear, not what they need to hear. Successful CEOs seek out different opinions. 2. Showing the fact that rank has its privilege. I love the fact that Sam Walton had his manager’s meeting on the same Saturday morning that he expected stores to be meeting. Too many managers forget the grind of those closest to the customer and, even worse, remind those employees with their own actions. 3. Not spending enough time talking directly to the customer. I once had an executive ask me how the heck he was supposed to know what customers wanted. I just smiled and said, “Ask them.” Sometimes we start thinking the only way to talk with customers is in focus groups or customer surveys when a visit to the market is the best unfiltered way to reach the customer.
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 11 months ago

The list is valid, however the biggest management problems I have observed are ego and work ethic. How many billions of dollars have been wasted by managers who hire experts and then waste everyone’s time trying to tell the expert how to do his/her job. This typically fosters a disaster situation; the expert leaves and ruins
the manager’s company in the market he/she was hired to develop.

Management work ethic is often summed up as, “I am the boss and I know everything already. I don’t have to learn to lead.”

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 11 months ago
Ms. Stevens offers a great “starter list.” The first thing I would add from the technology perspective is – “Not asking enough questions.” In today’s world where technology may seem to have “taken over,” many business managers feel they must abrogate their responsibility when it comes to technology questions. They feel their ignorance in the area makes it difficult to manage. The fallacy in this perspective is that technology applied to any endeavor can improve results only if you understand how to use it. It is the manager’s responsibility not necessarily to understand how the technology works, but to understand the advantage it will bring to their business and the risk associated with its use. To this end, they need to ask questions of their technologists that reveal how the technology is best applied to their business. How new is the technology? What technologies are on the horizon? How many of our competitors are using it? How long will it take to implement? How much risk is involved? What is the risk profile (are their… Read more »
Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 11 months ago

I agree with what’s been said so far, so with those additions, I would add treating employees like adults by, in as much as possible, being frank with them about what’s actually going on with the company, the department and the staff. Too often, management treats employees like children, using the logic that they can’t handle the truth. More often than not, they’ve figured out or had it leaked when something’s going on, and only resent, and are made more fearful and cautious, when things are not perfect.

Ralph Hanson
Guest
Ralph Hanson
15 years 11 months ago

I would add a simple but often overlooked one: Make certain that employee compensation and bonus plans are in alignment with corporate objectives. Most people will spend their quality time doing what will most likely result in higher pay.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

Great article and comments by all, in particular I enjoyed Doug Fleener, Bill Bittner and David Zahn’s comments as they are right on.

To tag along on one of the other comments about managing face-to-face rather by e-mail, it occurs to me that that may be one of the most effective means of gaining allies and partners, and eliminating misconceptions and mistakes. It gives a great opportunity to clarify. This used to be called MBWA and it seems to have gone out of style. Too bad these things are considered a ‘management style.’

I also think the ability to say ‘No’ is a talent that needs to be regained. It’s best explained by the reasons David Zahn state in his point #1.

Good discussion today.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

The greatest weakness I see in management today is thinking they know it all. Just because the numbers make the budget, does not mean the company is operating correctly or efficiently. American managers are the most head-stuck-in-the-sand of any in the world. When senior management learns they know the least about the company is when progress begins.

Charles Magowan
Guest
Charles Magowan
15 years 11 months ago

I’m with Bill. I’d add that once the front line knows what the company’s objectives are, knows its incentives, and has adequate resources, then it needs to have the authority to take the actions that will satisfy the customer without having to run in the back or upstairs for approval.

David Milstein
Guest
David Milstein
15 years 11 months ago

I would like to add one more mistake that managers and those who advise them make.
In a time of rapid change, managers need to undertstand how to manage change. Few do.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 11 months ago
There’s no shortage of talent in companies today. There’s only a shortage of talent that will recognize that talent. At the risk of using a personal reference, which I trust will be pardonable, I am reminded of that power of decentralized leadership. In a previous leadership venue, I offended every span-of-control tenet in the books by having 20 company presidents report directly to me with no one in between. But “control” wasn’t the primary issue, results were. This is how we operated. Before the planning and budgeting process began for the next fiscal year, we would go out from General Office with all involved corporate staff parties and review all of the foreseeable trends and conditions in front of us in the next fiscal year. It was an in-depth, thorough joint exercise. We’d work together on envisioning each company’s sales, profit and ROI goals for the year ahead. Then we would depart and go to the next company for similar planning until we have completed all 20 companies. Individual presidents would then go to work… Read more »
Laurie Cozart
Guest
Laurie Cozart
15 years 11 months ago

The list by Ms. Stevens is a great place to start. I would also add development. Managers should know the long term goals and objectives of their team members. They should also recognize if those goals and objectives are in alignment with the company. The manager then needs to find ways to integrate the two by challenging the team member with projects that stretch their current skill level and develop leadership. Too few employees are given the opportunity to reveal hidden skills and qualities. Successful managers build great teams, foster growth and development, then get out of the way.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

All of Ms. Stevens suggestions are well meaning. But they mean nothing if you are working for jerks. There are just too many jerks in management. When I work for good people who are both knowledgeable and nice, I could care less about the mistakes on Ms. Stevens’ list. When you work for a jerk, all those mistakes are magnified. I suggest you throw her list of mistakes in the trash. If you work for good people, be thankful and enjoy it. Make sure you tell the boss how good a job they are doing. If you work for a jerk, there are plenty of good books out there to help you deal with them. Telling a jerk he is making a mistake will only make him a bigger jerk.

Bill Bishop
Guest
Bill Bishop
15 years 11 months ago

The list of common mistakes is humblingly long. Building on David Zahn’s thoughts, we see the challenge of not having a clear, internally consistent vision that is projected strongly to the front line, being one of the major mistakes being made across retail.

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