The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them

Yes I admit it. I was once a control freak. I was a Micro-Manager! “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” (The title of my soon to be published book) is the first of a two-part series designed to help managers gain some valuable insight into what it takes to be an effective 21st. Century Manager. You aren’t born knowing how to manage people. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions. And we know our perceptions can be wrong. The truth is that if I knew then what I know now, there is no question I would have managed differently. I hope you will be able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40+ year career as an award winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of Canada’s most successful and profitable companies I’ve committed my fair share.

Confession One: “There is no such thing as common sense”. Common sense is a learned behavior based on your own life experiences and shaped by the people you meet, the books you read and the things you see and do. If you haven’t been taught how to do a task properly then how are you ever supposed to know? People don’t learn it by osmoses. The only way to change a “Can’t” into a “Can” is to train the “T” away.

Confession Two: “You can’t motivate people” People can only motivate themselves based on their WIIFM’s (What’s in it for me) not yours. People need to be convinced that it’s worth the effort, then and only then, will people be motivated enough to help themselves. The secret to managing people is finding out what their WIIFM is. And once you know that – you can use that understanding to get them to do what you need done. (They get theirs – and you get yours. It’s a win-win situation)

Confession Three: “You ruin good people by promoting them.” We tend to promote our super stars based on their past performances. Not everyone has what it takes to be a good team leader, supervisor or manager. Promoting people into areas where their abilities and aptitudes are less suited for the job may render the individual ineffective. Success as a manager is based on your people skills not your technical ability. If you can’t teach someone what you know that you aren’t doing your job as a manager.

Confession Four: “You don’t have to know everything.” Albert Einstein said it best. “You don’t have to know everything – You just need to know where to go to look it up.” Admit when you don’t know something. Don’t manage by smoke and mirrors. Tell them you don’t know but assure them you’ll get back to them with the correct answer. (If they can’t trust what you say then they won’t trust you at all.) You don’t have to make up the answers as you go along.

Confessions Five: “You are not the most important person in the conversation” If you can’t deliver the message so it is received the way it was intended; then what ever you said means absolutely nothing. The essence of communication is the sharing of thoughts and ideas. If the receiver doesn’t “get it” then the sender is the one who really doesn’t “get it”. We tend to blame the other person for the breakdown in communication. Effective communication takes two.

(This is the first of a two-part series. I will post confessions six to ten next posting. To receive a free “Confessions Poster” showing all ten confessions send me an email to: – Be sure to write “Confessions Poster” in the subject line)