Spotlight on Strategy: The Friction of Managing People


Management would be easy if everyone was hard working, collaborative and had a great attitude. Reality is, we each have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, and it’s the job of strong managers and supervisors to pull a team together to maximize its capabilities. When management is ineffective, it can have a powerfully detrimental effect that ripples all the way to the bottom line.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30% of employees leave because they don’t like their manager. While some of this can be chalked up to personal preference, much of the disconnect between employee and boss is a direct result of poor management practices. Managing people can be difficult, and no amount of training or education can prepare you for every eventuality.

That said, there are common mistakes that managers at all levels make. Read on to assess whether you are guilty of any of these and how best to remedy them.


Miscommunication and misinterpretation

One of the most frequent lines of miscommunication for any organization is around project execution.

When teams are assigned to a given project, it can often be unclear what their individual roles are, and where there may be overlap, making it difficult to properly execute. While some members may look to clarify their individual role, others may assume they know their expectations, and proceed without checking in with the team.

This is where job duties get confused, forgotten and sometimes duplicated. This is also where things can be misinterpreted. When employees are unsure of the task before them, they are often afraid to ask questions or receive clarification for fear they may look incompetent or unwilling. In an effort to avoid misunderstanding borne from lack of communication, It is important that management is approachable, encourages questions and clarifications, and sets out a clearly-defined action plan for each project, helping employees feel more productive and saving valuable time and resources.


Avoiding conflict

In an attempt to avoid hurting the feelings of others or causing friction in the workplace, employees are often reticent to bring issues to the forefront. This can create a backlog of problems and a growing resentment because concerns are not resolved and employees can’t learn and progress.

Constructive feedback enables people to develop and grow professionally, adapting as necessary for future projects as they learn from previous mistakes. This is not only important for the company as employees become more efficient and specialized, but it is also personally beneficial for the employee. They are able to build confidence and gain new skills, as they recognize that feedback will be shared in a positive way that encourages an atmosphere of growth and development, not perfection. Dealing with conflict head on, in a constructive way, is a key element to good management.


Macromanagement vs. Micromanagement

We hear about micromanagement far more often than macromanagement, which is the other end of the spectrum. Micromanagement is someone who oversees, at too great a level of detail with too great of frequency, causing employees to grow frustrated as they don’t feel that they can be trusted with tasks.

Macromanagers, on the other hand, can be just as ineffective. This is characterized by a boss who sets vague expectations, never reviews work or provides feedback, and doesn’t hold the team accountable. These types of managers create frustration because employees feel their contributions are never seen nor appreciated, and motivation to succeed diminishes drastically. In fact, that same study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 25% of employees leave due to lack of recognition.


Forgetting to Delegate

A common mistake managers make is to avoid asking others for help when they are having difficulty with their own workload. Teams are created in order to balance workloads and increase productivity. If managers do not ask for help, they will not know if a colleague has the capacity to take more things on, therefore wasting resources. It also means the manager’s work may not be as good as it could be, exhausting their own skills and causing a burnout rather than getting more out of the team they have in front of them. It seems simple to ask for help, but it is often one of the first things neglected. Setting a plan to keep employees abreast of deadline and tasks helps them to feel supportive and a part of the team.


Tunnel vision

When you limit your objectives and point of view, you limit the possibilities your team and your company can achieve. For any business to grow, it’s imperative to be prepared to change with the times and anticipate what customers need and want. One of the best ways to do that is to open your mind and your ears, using your staff to carry out quality research and collaborative brainstorming.

Once you have identified which of these problems are apparent in your organization, hold a strategic planning session and implement changes one step at a time. The right management techniques will help your organization to stop wasting time and money, and start utilizing your available resources to create a more productive, motivated team and effective working environment.