manager mistakes

Why do we make so many managing mistakes in the workplace today, and what can we do to become better leaders?

Many managers first move into a leadership role as a result of strong individual contributions. We are often expected to successfully navigate uncharted territory without proper training or leadership support. This can result in ineffective management and a lack of employee engagement despite the best intentions. Included below are common “bad manager” mistakes to help you uncover your blind spots and identify steps you can take today to become a better manager.


  • Lack of Trust – Bad managers do not seek out personal connection with their team. They focus solely on the work, and do not allow their team to operate independently even if they are capable. They are commonly micro-managers.

Why it matters: Employees need to feel like their manager trusts them and has their back. They want a manager that will support them during tough times and support their growth by promoting them to company leadership. Employees also need to feel like they can be candid with their manager to gain clarity on their next steps.

What you can do: Foster a positive environment and establish a connection with your employees. Build rapport by getting to know them on a more personal level. Respect employee confidentiality and make sure your employees know that you will honor it.

  • One Size Fits All Approach – Bad managers manage their employees the same way, regardless of their unique strengths and interests. They don’t take the time to understand their employees as individuals.

Why it matters: Managers need to understand their employees’ talents, interests, and preferences to align them with roles and responsibilities that are a good fit. This leads to stronger employee engagement and success.

What you can do: Meet 1/1 with your employees regularly, and start asking questions to create meaningful conversations. Less assumptions and delegating, more questioning and learning.

  • No Culture – Bad managers make no effort to build their team’s culture nor take employee feedback into consideration. According to Gallup, 70% of the variance in company culture quality is driven by the team leader. So the effort you invest as a manager is key to your employee’s happiness.

Why it matters: Employees need to feel comfortable in their environment to deliver their best work. Having fun and getting work done doesn’t have to be an either or!

What you can do: Lead by example to set the tone for your team. Become accountable for your team’s engagement, not just their performance. Rally the team and lead a fun project or event that is geared towards team-building and connection.

  • Limited Feedback –Bad managers are guilty of providing ineffective feedback (or no feedback at all) to their employees. Gallup research finds that only about one in four employees “strongly agree” that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them.

Why it matters: Employees require ongoing feedback to support their growth. Without any feedback, employees are left to assume whether or not their work is meeting your expectations and likewise are unable to communicate their feedback and needs with you.

What you can do: Integrate feedback as a regular part of your employee conversations. Share strengths and opportunities during your 1/1 meetings rather than waiting for an official performance review. Solicit feedback on your own performance as their manager as well!

  • Lack of Support – Bad managers are unwilling to get their hands dirty. When an employee is struggling to complete a project, they keep their distance and do not jump in to help problem solve or support.

Why it matters: Employees need to feel supported to do their best work. While autonomy is great, employees need to know their manager has their back when the going gets rough.

What you can do: Check-in with your team to make sure they have what they need to complete the task at hand. Offer to help or provide additional resources when there is a challenge.

  • Unclear Purpose – Bad managers do not connect their employees’ work to the overall company’s goals and objectives. Instead, they delegate projects without context or purpose.

Why it Matters: Employees want to “know their why”. They need to understand how their work impacts the bigger company picture to stay engaged.

What you can do: Clearly explain how your employees’ work supports the team and company’s overall goals. Involve them in strategic conversations where possible.

We all make mistakes, so please don’t beat yourself up over it! What differentiates great managers from the rest is the ability to recognize those mistakes and grow from them.

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