HR’s Top 5 Pitfalls Of Managing People

There are five main pitfalls to how companies manage their people, and these HR errors cost Australian businesses millions of dollars and a huge amount of wasted time each year.

How firms handle these five pitfalls is a good indicator of whether they will be dealing with HR issues such as lack of motivation, negative workplace culture and high staff turnover.

The biggest consequence of poor staff management is high staff turnover, which impacts on a business in many ways. Crucially, it costs one year’s salary for each employee you lose so it’s worthwhile finding out how to reduce this unnecessary cost and heartache.

Having dealt with these issues for more than 20 years, here are my top 5 staff management pitfalls:

1. Ignoring your staff, sitting in your office and admiring the view

Management means that you are meant to ‘manage’; this requires action.  Uninspiring managers are seldom capable of motivating staff to reach and strive for their brilliant best.

Be an active manager with your people, not the invisible man or woman.

If you don’t know and understand your staff, you’re missing out on achieving performance excellence. The first thing you should do when taking over a management role is to make the time to talk to each of your staff privately, and develop a professional rapport.

Identify the issues that are stopping your staff from doing their job well and reaching their full potential. Get your HR manager to organise a confidential staff survey to assist you work out the real business issues and address them.

Whether you have 15 staff or 6000, work out a plan so that over a six month period you speak to as many staff as possible.

2. Trying to be a pal, not a manager – you can’t be everybody’s buddy

Understand the difference between being a friendly, polite professional manager and trying to be a ‘friend’ to your staff – being both at the same time is a near impossible feat.  Many of your staff will be put off, some will wonder about your ability to lead and the issue of confidentiality.

Be friendly and approachable but understand that being a friend is a behavior that may compromise your ability to lead your team; at the very least it will not allow you to be objective about decision making.

Give clear, meaningful and positive feedback, be approachable, professional and friendly.  These are the qualities that will assist you gain the nirvana of all management statuses – respect.

If you inspire people and have their respect, this is when you actually have people in the workplace who are excited to be there. Just think about how your business would perform if people were excited about giving you 110% effort.

3. Being rudeness personified

Nobody enjoys being bullied, harassed, sworn at, intimidated, humiliated in front of the team or have their ideas stolen (without recognition) by the boss.

I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the years and staff always remember how the boss has treated them – if treated poorly, they will leave at the first opportunity.

Recently a candidate told me that she had been sexually harassed by an external client of her firm – and was told to “toughen up” by her boss.  As soon as she had the opportunity, she left that company for an employer who showed a more professional approach.

If you are after respect, being rude is the surest way to blow it in a second.  Remember, 9 times out of 10 people leave managers, not companies.

4. Ignoring the elephant in the room

If someone in your team is being harassed or bullied by someone in the company, chances are people will know about this.  They will be waiting for you – yes you – as manager, to do something about it.

This is where a good HR Manager is very useful to assist you in professionally addressing these types of issues that do eventuate in the workplace. Situations can get very complex with many delicate legal matters to consider. So do ask for help and take action.

5. Putting your mouth into gear before your brain

Strategically think through your plans, to understand the repercussions and business benefits of change. Consult, gather information and execute your business changes professionally.

We’ve all seen examples of the disorganized manager who makes a decision then changes his or her mind, with a major impact on staff, their job roles and working life.

Remember, ‘do what you say and say what you do’.


Richard Dunks is managing director Vantage Human Capital, a specialist executive search and human resources consulting firm that works  with companies strategically to recruit employees and ensure they have appropriate strategies in place to successfully retain, motivate and manage their people.


Categories :
Scroll to Top