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The Biggest Mistake of Management

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

How can you stop making the biggest mistake of management: assuming that your employees know what to do?



When talking with employers that are frustrated with employees, I often hear this comment: “But they should know what to do.” Usually followed by, “because they’ve been doing their job for a long time.” If you ever hear yourself saying this, then you are committing one of the biggest mistakes that ownership and management tends to make. The mistake of assuming that the employee knows what to do or that what they believe they should do will get the desired effect.


The fact is that most employees want to be successful. And, if they knew what to do to succeed (win the game, hit their goals) they would be doing just that. Therefore, when an employee continues to fail in their job, to underproduce, or to fall short of their goals, it is often because they do not know what to do.


In most cases, the employee is just as frustrated as the manager or owner. They just don’t know how to bring it up without furthering the idea that they’re a complete failure. Many of them are likely afraid of what ownership or management would do if they found out that they didn’t know what to do to get their job done.


Knowing this to be true, it then becomes imperative that owners and managers regularly spend time with their employees strategizing for success. That includes helping them identify and overcome obstacles in the way of their goals. Additionally, it can mean determining a better way to get their job done on time and correctly.


These strategy sessions can be extremely rewarding. And, if done correctly, they can point out broken or unfollowed processes within your business that are keeping your team from performing their best. I’ve found that these broken processes are often holding teams back and not necessarily an employee’s skill set or ability to do their job properly.


Regularly spending time with your employees to help them identify what is holding them back while working on solutions to these issues is a key part of management’s job. By helping your employees be successful, you’ll be creating loyal and engaged team members that can add substantially to the bottom line.


However, management will want to be cautious when first implanting these sessions. Many owners and managers will feel that it may be easier to take over the job than it is to deal with figuring out a better path for the employee. But that is a recipe for an overflowing plate, an overworked owner, and a failed employee that is likely to become disillusioned. Things that all leads to lowered profits for the company and an unacceptable solution if you’re looking to create great results for the business.

Allowing poor performance only creates more poor performance. Managers must understand the goals of the company and the goals of each employee. Unless you identify and solve the problems causing low performance (even if it feels inconvenient), you will always have low performance.


Expecting your employees to understand what you want when you have either not identified it or not shared it with them – clearly and concisely – is likely to lead to more than a little frustration on your part.


No one can read minds (I’ve been trying for 40 years to read my wife’s mind). Which means that no employee can determine what you want unless you tell them. Goals need to be clear, definable, measurable, achievable, time-restrained, and continuously monitored. You have to create clear expectations to have successful employees and a healthy bank account.


Simply put, you can avoid making the mistake of assuming that your employee knows what to do to be successful. Create regular strategy sessions and spend the time with struggling employees to help them determine what they actually need to do. You’ll be surprised at their ability to hit their goals and make you – and the business – happy.


Want more insight into why your employees aren't performing like they should? Schedule an analysis with our expert to review your business below:


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