A manager talks to her team in the office.

Three common mistakes managers make

Managing people isn’t always easy - but recognising what constitutes good management and what doesn’t might help. Here are three of the most common mistakes in managerial style, and how you can do what you do better.

By Shell on Apr. 14, 2022

1. You micromanage your team

Some managers fall into the trap of micromanagement simply because they’re detail-focused or believe their experience and expertise means they know the best way to do things.

However, working for a micromanager strips an employee of autonomy and the opportunity to grow. Micromanagement is also bad for business, hindering innovation, damaging team morale and contributing to increased staff turnover.

Micromanagement is an all-too-common problem in the workplace. According to a 2021 survey of 1,000 Australian workers by the Australian College of Applied Professions, 32 per cent of respondents said their bosses micromanage them.

If you suspect you are guilty of micromanaging – or receive feedback confirming it from your team – you can adopt some simple strategies to take a step back: ask more questions, seek different viewpoints, hand over ownership of tasks and responsibilities to others, and celebrate the achievements of your team.

2. Your calendar is out of control

Your daily calendar is crammed with meetings from the moment you log on in the morning to the end of the day – although you’ll probably find yourself still at your computer after the rest of the team has logged off.

The complaint of too many meetings is a common one among managers in modern workplaces and a major drag on productivity and innovation. It’s impossible to do the deep thinking required to plan and strategise for the future when you spend the bulk of your workday jumping from one meeting to the next. Excessive meetings can also contribute to disengagement, burnout, and, in the post-pandemic world, Zoom fatigue among employees.

In The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the Time and Double the Impact, Donna McGeorge quotes a Harvard study that found that just 33 per cent of managers found meetings useful, mindful or purposeful. More than 70 per cent said meetings were unproductive and inefficient, while 65 per cent said meetings kept them from completing their work.

As the title of her book suggests, McGeorge proposes adopting a strict 25-minute model to make meetings more efficient and effective. Help clear your schedule and free up time for other tasks by running short, sharp meetings with a clear purpose (and agenda) and a limited invite list. Remember McGeorge’s three Ps: preparedness, punctuality and presence – which means no phones and laptops.

3. You avoid showing vulnerability

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the business landscape forever. Seemingly overnight, managers had to adapt to massive change, including leading newly remote teams, juggling childcare and work, and adjusting to a ban on travel due to lockdowns.

In this atmosphere of uncertainty and isolation, the role of leaders – and what we needed from them – changed. A 2020 McKinsey article identifies four key qualities that are critical to leading in a crisis: empathy, vulnerability, awareness and compassion. 

One of the most celebrated examples of leadership during the pandemic was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who displayed these traits in spades. Ardern gained the trust of the people, which empowered her to make the tough decisions necessary to lead her nation out of a crisis.

Vulnerable leaders “are those who are aware of their limitations, have the necessary humility to grow their own and others’ potential, and are courageous and curious enough to create sincere and open connections with others,” write Amy C. Edmondson and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in HBR article Today’s Leaders Need Vulnerability, Not Bravado.

Edmondson and Chamorro-Premuzic outline how managers can cultivate a more vulnerable leadership style: be honest, ask for help, admit mistakes and apologise, and go beyond your comfort zone in pursuit of new skills.

Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.