Every manager makes mistakes. Once a mistake happens, there is only one option - own up to it and get it fixed. Taking ownership is never easy, particularly for managers who, as leaders and mentors, must often bear the burden of mistakes not of their own making. And fixing problems is not easy either, as fixes often mean hard work and extra hours. The real trick is to avoid mistakes as much as possible. Read on for more.
Any action or decision can turn out wrong, but that does not necessarily mean they were mistakes. A "mistake" is a specific action is that is wrong headed from the start, and could have been avoided with some thought, attention and effort. While mistakes can take any form based on the project or operation underway, the smart IT manager can always avoid the self inflicted wounds of the "common mistake". As with most things, its all about thinking ahead and being prepared.
In order to avoid mistakes, managers have to be able to communicate clearly with different people, at different levels and authority, including people they report to, people who report to them, clients, customers and people outside the organization. Considering this diversity, managers have to be able to communicate at both a technical level (work instructions, problem details) and also at a big picture level (vision, goals, objectives). The failure to communicate effectively at either level can lead to work errors, poor performance, erroneous expectations, low morale .... the list goes on.
The failure to delegate is an all too common management mistake. It's understandable. Sometimes its just easier to do it yourself. Well, it may be easier, but it is not wise. The failure to delegate can lead to many problems. First of all, things may just not get done if everything is on one plate. As work falls through the cracks, management and customer anger will grow. If staff feels that management is either unwilling or unable to delegate, morale will suffer, and the managers ability to lead will be compromised. Confidence and oversight are the keys to avoid mistakes due to a failure to delegate. Managers must have confidence in themselves and their staff to delegate work effectively, knowing what can be delegated and what should not be delegated.
Managers have to think ahead. The failure to anticipate can lead to serious consequences. The ability to "anticipate" comes into play in multiple situations. For projects, managers have to anticipate risks. For disaster recovery planning, managers have to anticipate potential disasters and plan appropriate response strategies. For proposals and strategic planning, managers have to be able to anticipate objections, and craft arguments to overcome. Considering the broad possibilities, the failure to anticipate can cause a manager to lose control and lose the confidence of those who report to them and those to whom they report. Being caught unaware by a situation that could or should have been predicted will make a manager appear "unprepared", limiting potential advancement opportunities, and hampering overall effectiveness.
Due dates and deliverables rarely fit neatly into an (8) hour day. Multiple, conflicting demands are all too common place, particularly when dealing with multiple projects, issues and customers. As leaders, managers have to set priorities for themselves and their staff. The failure to set priorities can lead to missed deadlines, failed deliverables and unhappy customers. In order to set appropriate priorities, managers have to have a full grasp of the work to be completed and the related business objectives for each assigned task and deliverable. Conflicting demands have to be weighed against business objectives to identify priorities.
Managers are often judged by their subordinates, and as such, it is the managers job to lead those subordinates to the place where they can perform as needed. Managers cannot simply place their fate in the hands of others nor can they blame staff for failures of leadership. Once a manager fails to lead by example, they lose control, and with control, goes confidence and capability.
In order to get maximum performance from subordinates, managers must lead by example, demonstrating expectations through actions:
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