Tip #795: Eight Common Leadership Mistakes

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.”  Nikki Giovanni

Various studies have found that 44% – 59% of employees say they want to find another job. According to Gallup, 75% of the reasons people quit come down to their managers. In his article, “8 Things Leaders Do That Make Employees Quit,” Jon Christiansen points out that losing an employee can adversely affect team morale, performance and productivity. It is also costly and time intensive.

The only good news is that, according to Christiansen, “only about a quarter of employees that leave do so within their first year. This means you have plenty of time to assess flight risks and address them.”

Here are the 8 leadership mistakes he has identified and the solutions he recommends:

Mistake 1:  Setting inconsistent goals or expectations. “When employees are forced to choose between tasks in order to meet competing expectations, the result is a team of stressed out people without clear priorities.”

Solution:   Write down your expectations and make changes if any contradict or overlap.

Mistake 2Having too many process constraints.  These “occur when a lack of information, resources, or another factor, stops employees from doing their jobs.” Conditions can inhibit performance “which are evaluated by managers-even if it is not the employee’s fault. In turn, the employee begins to feel powerless, and displays low morale, poor work quality, and frustration.”

Solution:   Evaluate employees only on what they can control and eliminate any conditions that adversely affect their performance.

Mistake 3:  Wasting your resources, particularly time in meetings that keep employees from doing their actual work. “Employees crunched for time tend to get burned out faster, which impacts the quality of their deliverables.”

Solution:  Prioritize the importance and impact of your employees’ tasks, ensure their workload is realistic, and don’t require them to attend meetings that really don’t affect them.

Mistake 4:  Putting people in the wrong roles so there is a waste of knowledge and skills. “Unused abilities can leave employees feeling undervalued and faceless.”

Solution:  Be honest and clear about job responsibilities when hiring. For current employees, see if you can give them meaningful responsibilities and drop tasks that have the least value.

Mistake 5:  Assigning boring or overly easy tasks. ”When employees don’t have enough to do, they can lose motivation and experience negative emotions.”

Solution:  Before assigning work, ask employees about their interests- then “give them work that will enhance their knowledge or skills, or help them grow in the right direction.”

Mistake 6:  Failing to create a psychologically safe culture. “If you notice your team members being overly agreeable or quiet in meetings, that’s a bad sign…Employees who do not feel psychologically safe are more prone to error, and less likely to take risks, participate in healthy conflict or grow in their roles.”

Solution:  Show that you are open to new ideas, ask questions and listen to the answers, and make sure your team knows there are no wrong answers. “The more you can incorporate your team’s feedback into projects and strategies, the more empowered, valued, and safe they will feel working for you.” Also, be humble and own up to your faults.

Mistake 7:       Creating a work environment that is too safe. “ Studies show that a moderate level of pressure and friction at work is healthy for employee growth…People who find no meaning or purpose in their work perform below their potential, are less productive, and are often less loyal than those who work in purpose-driven organizations.”

Solution:  Provide positive and negative feedback to your team on a regular basis. Show them how they contribute to the organization’s goals so “they start to feel a greater sense of purpose.”

Mistake 8:       Leading unfairly with bias. Employees trust leaders who are fair. “A trusting manager-employee relationship ‘defines the best workplaces’, improves performance and is good for revenue. A lack of trust, however, can result in low morale and a team with little or no guidance.”

Solution:  Become aware of your biases and overcome them. Consider your rationale before you make important decisions. Ask for and act on regular feedback from your team.

The reality is that leaders may not be able to make every employee happy because some things are out of your control.

However, Christiansen closes his article with the statement: “The better you manage, the more productive, innovative, satisfied, and most importantly, loyal your team will be.”

Consider your leaders. Are they prone to some of these mistakes? If so, is there a way to bring it to their attention before they lose employees?

May your learning be sweet.


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