Why Managers Fail – Part 4

This is the final article in the series #WhyManagersFail, all these traits took years to identify and painful lessons to master. These last 5 traits relate to emotional intelligence. That is just how self-aware are you regarding your personality characteristics and the effect it has on your team.   

1.     Unrealistic deadlines

If I set a deadline for myself then I make sure that I meet it, no matter what. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad trait, it did lead to a me agreeing to impossible deadlines simply to be seen in a positive light by my customers. There is a major downside to this. If the deadline is constantly unrealistic, your staff can feel like they’re not achieving. This can impact self-esteem, motivation and productivity, which can damage your bottom-line. Staff may aim lower – If targets are regularly set too high, staff will constantly fail to meet them.

2. Prejudice

We all have that favourite staff member. They look like us, they think like us and they socialise like us. It’s so easy to identify with someone like that. A mentor once told me that there are only two reasons why you hire people into your business. The first is to save you time, which is your greatest commodity and secondly to do things you can’t. So, if you have invested in hiring good people then let them do what you hired them for – think for themselves. You are not yourself any favours by favouring anyone. You destroy the confidence of the staff that are not favoured and eventually you will do the same to the favoured when they see that they cannot meet your expectations.

3. Overlooking the wisdom of employees

Business is about people. People build businesses. People buy from people. At the heart of this relationship, however, is another group of people, that of the staff. It is the staff who enact the attributes of the business and whose actions ultimately foster customer experience—whether good or bad. If executed properly, this reinforcement breeds more success in terms of sales, awareness and loyalty. I used to think I knew everything there was to know about business, after all I have an MBA. But I learnt that I can’t be everywhere and know everything. When I delegated the decision-making process in the company and relied upon the wisdom of the people that I hired, sales took off and we had less customer complaints than we ever had before.

4. A lack of empathy

How often have you seen a leader state “it’s my way or the highway?”. It immediately raises hackles, but it’s a defence mechanism that shows that the leader is out of his depth. Lacking empathy shows that you do not have the ability to change your approach to a problem or person because they can’t see further than their own point of view. Being able to adapt means you can make better judgement calls and tailor your approach to suit your team and environment. I think of all the traits I have identified and this is by far the most difficult to identify within yourself and master.

5. Taking life too seriously

Have you ever heard of an older person stating that they regret not working harder or longer? No! me neither. They always state they should have dedicated more time to their families or taken more risks and lived freer. You must remember that your business is like an eco-system. It’s the most efficient when it is in balance. What does that mean exactly? Well your staff, customers, suppliers, community and families are all stakeholders. If you focus too much on one, then the others will be neglected. With dire consequences. I am living proof of that, my first marriage broke down because I spent too much time on my career, working 18-hour days 7 days a week. I thought I was doing the right thing laying a foundation for my family but was wrong. Horribly wrong. It took years to repair that damage. Don’t take life too seriously, you are not a machine. You will break down eventually and who does that help?

I hope that that you have enjoyed these four articles and lessons that I have learnt. It is a constant struggle to not fall back into old habits and as I mature the cultural differences in each generation bring different challenges. But the underlying traits remain the same.

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