7 Mistakes Managers Make and Employees Hate

Do you have a former manager or boss who stands out in your memory? Most of us do. Some stand out because of their incompetence, and others because they were unprofessional jerks. And yet others because they did their job and taught us something valuable along the way.

I worked for my most memorable boss in the human resource department. He would always say, “I want to teach you everything I know so that if I’m out, you can run the department.” It didn’t mean much to me at the time, other than more work on my plate. But in retrospect, that attitude took a lot of guts and confidence. He was essentially preparing me to take his job.  

He was, of course, a good boss. But there are lots of others who are bosses in title only, always relying on their staff to cover for them. Or they do the job, but work by their own rules, often steamrolling others in the process. The mistakes managers make can ruin staff morale and productivity.

If you are a manager or #leader in your #business, avoid making these mistakes that will make #employees hate you! Click To Tweet

A Workplace Is Undermined by Mistakes Managers Make

There are lots of ways bad leadership can reveal itself and hurt employees in the process. It’s worth checking out this article on Inc., which uses a LinkedIn workplace survey to find “the one mistake leaders make more frequently than others.” This unleashed a torrent of responses from unhappy employees that included micromanaging, not listening, lacking boundaries and failing to grow as leaders themselves.

It is common sense that as your position and duties increase, so do the accompanying perks. But if the perks are swelling your head and sense of entitlement, then staff morale and productivity will start to plummet.

mistakes managers make

So if you are a boss or a would-be boss, what are the behaviors you should avoid?

The 7 Terrible Mistakes Managers Make

Mistake 1: You choose your own hours and work schedule.

Strolling in late, leaving early or deciding at the last minute to work remotely without regard to the potential needs of your department is a big mistake. This behavior forces your staff to need you less, keep you informed less, and resent you more and more.

mistakes managers make

It’s like teenagers: They don’t want to see their parents every second, but deep down inside they like knowing they’re around – just in case.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back your respect and integrity:

  • Call to inform staff that you’ll be arriving late and include your approximate arrival time.
  • Before leaving for the day, check in with them to answer any last questions.
  • If working remotely, let people know and that you’ll be available to them throughout the day.

Mistake 2: Letting them hear company news through the grapevine.

Rumors are easy to create and just as easily can bring down morale, increase stress and cause discord. Whenever a department or company is facing a change, social media somehow gets wind of it, often getting the facts wrong.  

Don’t let your staff hear about major changes from outside sources. Inform them immediately, even if you cannot divulge the details.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect and your integrity:

  • In most cases, all it takes to make employees feel included and informed is a brief statement acknowledging the rumor.
  • When information is limited or not approved to become public, just say so.

Mistake 3: You have work favorites.

With heightened awareness of harassment, bias and fairness in today’s workplace, showing preferences for a particular staff member can quickly turn into a legal matter.

mistakes managers makeYou might think you’re being discreet, but when your “friend” is always the first one with the latest company information, or they are your regular lunch companion, or they are always selected for leadership opportunities, eyebrows and resentment will rise.

As the boss, you should consult the policies and procedures manual and the human resource department for guidance on handling these work relationships. This will help to ensure that your position is not compromised and you are not seen as bestowing favors unequally.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect:

  • Maintain professional distance in your interactions with colleagues, staff or employee family members.
  • Do not openly discuss weekend plans.
  • Avoid holding private meetings in your office.
  • Avoid sharing information that is for management only.

Mistake 4: You exercise freedom of expression too freely

Your position does not give you the freedom to vent, throw stuff, curse, berate others or forget your manners. As a boss, you’re supposed to set the standard of acceptable behavior.

Wild and unpredictable behavior is not conducive to open communication and is a bad mistake managers make. It can leave important matters unresolved, lead to questionable decisions and, in some cases, make clients suffer.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect and your integrity:

  • Do a self-assessment to figure out why you lack self-control and think it’s acceptable. Then you can begin to catch yourself and behave like a grown-up professional.
  • Add “please” and “thank you” to your conversations.
  • Apologize. A sincere apology includes stating what you did wrong. And this requires leaving your ego at home and a lot of courage.

Mistake 5: You avoid taking responsibility.

Unless you are perfect, making a mistake or two is inevitable. What sets apart a professional and mature boss from an I’m-immune-because-I-have-a-fancy-title-and-you-don’t type of boss is taking responsibility when things go wrong. Not only are you responsible for your own actions but also for staff members who blow it.

mistakes managers make

If you back up your staff when they mess up by offering constructive criticism, brainstorming solutions and rectifying the problems together, they’ll be more likes to go the extra mile for you.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect and your integrity:

  • Don’t demonstrate an I-can-do-no-wrong attitude through your actions, or lack of them.
  • Immediately address a situation that’s gone wrong.
  • Don’t overreact, make excuses or, worse, lie.
  • Apologize for mistakes and for not fulfilling your duties as a boss. Acknowledging your faults will garner respect.

Mistake 6: You don’t share the work or glory.

If your staff is working on a deadline and you stroll out early to catch a flight for a fun Vegas getaway, you’ve probably lost a few “good boss” points.

Even if circumstances don’t allow you to work side-by-side with your staff, check in with them, not only to ask how the project is coming along, but how they are doing.

And when the job is done, make a point to thank the staff and talk about the outcome of their work. “Client X had these great things to say about it…” Share the glory.

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect and your integrity:

  • Due to the time pressures put upon a boss, stopping to thank staff right after a job well-done is not always possible. So use a few minutes at each meeting to acknowledge individual staff members for their positive attitudes, for the nice way they greeted you or a client, for staying late to work on a project, and so on.
  • Show your appreciation occasionally—not only after completing a project. If you have the budget, take your staff to lunch (or bring it in for them), or let them leave one-hour early, or do something else that demonstrates gratitude for their hard work.
  • A sincere and simple “thank you” goes a long way.

Mistake 7: You have trouble keeping your word.

Among the mistakes that managers make, this is a bad one. Ethics, morals, code of conduct, character . . . call it what you want but misleading, omitting essential facts or just not coming through is wrong and rude!

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With all this talk of “personal brand” and “image,” nothing makes for stronger branding than keeping your word.

Not doing this guarantees loss of credibility, professional standing, respect from colleagues and employees, and, ultimately, loss of your job.

It’s also wrong to try to take the easy way out, smoothing over a situation or placating an employee when you have no real solution in mind or intention of finding one.

As John F. Kennedy once said: “I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises.”

Tips to rebuild trust and earn back their respect and your integrity:

  • Do not promise something if you aren’t positive that you can deliver it. Include possible complications or exclusions if you promise something.
  • Apologize for past failed promises and promise (only if you are sincere) to never do it again.
  • Before committing to something, ask for 24 hours to respond, so you think before you commit.

Your staff can help make or break you (just as the mistakes managers make can harm employees). While demands put upon you may be great, finding a moment to make a personal appearance, to greet people and make eye contact as you pass by, or to exchange a few words in the lunchroom can prove invaluable. Not only will you build rapport and trust with your staff, but you may gain useful information that helps you do your job better.


Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Workplace Civility, Soft Skills, Business Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.

Presentations are available to support HR policies and harassment compliance, address concerns, or to avert potential inclinations – Up and coming managers – Millennials – Interns – New-hire orientation process – Layoffs to help prepare them for interviews – Professional development events or conferences – College/university students  –  Athletes on public behavior  –  Actors to prepare for roles  –  NEW! Attorneys; polish client’s professional presence for a court appearance.

For more information, please contact me via email, or by calling 650.871.6200 before a dilemma turns into front page news.

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