Do you make these 9 common management mistakes?


BlindleadingblindsmallTake any project you’ve worked on and think back.  How could it have been better?

There’s so much you can learn from a job done badly that I’ve compiled a list, which is by no means exhaustive.  There are many ways a project can be dragged out,  botched up,  and overshoot the budget.

My engineering clients chipped in with this compilation and you can apply the following situations across all technical realms.

Let me know below:  what have I missed?

  1. Too many clashing agendas from all the business partners
    The problem is many leaders don’t use their communication skills to sort out conflicting aims before they become a problem.  Negotiating and setting expectations are key.
  2. Too many people at meetings that don’t stick to the point
    It’s pretty unlikely that a 2 hour meeting really does involve 15 people.  Pick out what’s relevant for whom and only have them present.  ‘Meetings’ can be just as effective one a one-to-one basis, while the kettle’s on.
  3. Too many meetings or lack of agenda and actionable outcomes
    Sometimes the outcome of the meetings is….another meeting.  Who’s doing what by when?  Do they have the capability and know-how?  Have you checked they have the resources?  Individuals need varying levels of delegation and nothing’s going to get done if they need more from you and it’s not given or benchmarked.
  4. Mismatching the skill set with the role, e.g., process engineer delivering electrical deliverables.  It’s like hiring a nuclear physicist as a lawyer.  (Of course, they could probably blow up the opposition for you but I’m not sure it’s legal where you are).
  5. Lack of or incomplete scope of work
    I bet you know this one:  Client:  ‘Here’s the job.’  1 month later:  Client ‘I forgot to add this.’  2 weeks later…’There’s this as well.’  Then they get rankled when you mention pricing and delay of completion.  Part of the issue is the way information is extracted from the client / partner.  It comes down to asking the right questions.  Another point is that managers may take little time out to think how lessons learned in the past can be integrated into the current project.
  6. Roles and responsibilities ill -defined
    Team friction is often due do the scope of the project changing (see no.5 above). Roles and responsibilities shift, causing ambivalence and conflict.
  7. Absence of risk mitigation or contingency planning
    Not reflecting on lessons learned from previous projects dulls the foresight you need to spot and mitigate risks.
  8. Exchanging personnel on a regular basis
    Not everyone does hand overs well, and some staff don’t do hand overs at all so subsequent team members have no idea what’s what.  All you can rely on is management being in the know.  They’ll possibly be out of the loop on small details that can make a big difference unless they’re in close proximity to their teams.  If you know you’re going to have to change people round, ensure the right people are involved when the baton’s passed.
  9. Lack of control of work done resulting considerable amounts of rework
    If the hand is off the steering wheel, the car will end up in a ditch (if you’re lucky).  Likewise, letting projects run without a detailed schedule, risk management and a more collaborative approach, results in having to backing up and follow a new road from the beginning. This adds to cost and time.


Management is sometimes leading, other times collaborating, and balancing that with knowing when to step back. .

What’s missing?  Add your own experiences below!  Looking forward to seeing them…


10 tips to build terrific virtual teams

herding catsHaving tried and tested principles to guide you through the mire of leading virtual teams- technical and non-technical alike.

You know, the kind of teams that are use to operating within geographical, functional or individual silos,  don’t communicate with each other and so on.  .

This time I’ve bowed out and the left the writing to team turnaround titan, Amit Eitan.

In his roles as CIO, VP Consulting and Global Programme Director, Amit has been working with and leading organisations and teams around the world, creating cats that hit and often, exceed targets, so that less time has to be spent herding them.

Below,  Amit focusses on the 10 top tips that can turn make a difference to how teams relate to others, which is as important as technical savvy if you want to achieve results.


1.  Identity:

Establish team identity – be it through the project they are working on or the IT organization they are member of – through a clear and simple mission statement.

Companies often think that the IT teams are so absorbed by the technical world, that they have no interest in what they’re doing it for, when actually they often appreciate being guided.  This can instill a sense of purpose, which, when incorporated into identity and mission can be highly motivational.


2. Common goals:

Establish clear and measurable goals, milestones etc. for the team as a whole and the individuals within the team.


3. Effective organization:

Define a clear organization, roles & responsibilities that is allows for the individuals to excel and get the best out of themselves, as a team and as individuals.


4. Empowerment:

Make team members genuinely feel empowered, focus on the WHAT not the HOW.  I don’t mean an away day with lots of cheering and baseball caps, although I have nothing against joy and tasteful head wear.  This is about allowing your people to follow through on their ideas and manage projects/tasks the way they see fit – within reason and giving a suitable level of guidance, as required.


5. Effective Communications culture:

Establish clear and pragmatic team communications plan (status calls/meetings, etc.), foster a culture where team members at all levels openly raise opinions and ideas, and challenge others even if they are more senior. Create a culture of talking rather than writing and walk the talk !


6. Be WITH the team:

Lead from the front – be integral part of the team, be with them in the trenches, especially in challenging times. Be approachable beyond the cliché. Make sure you spend sufficient time with ALL team members, not only those in the center (HQ).


7.  Recognition:

Continuously and publicly recognize achievements, of the team as a whole and individuals within the team, making sure senior management and stakeholders are informed in also in the presence of the team (be it in writing, phone or meeting).


8. Rewards:

Define and implement a fair incentive plan in line with project/team goals.   This is not necessarily about a big fat bonus, (cue ‘sigh of relief’).  There are many ways to incentivize:  a social occasion, vouchers, free membership to an online or offline portal or publication, days off in-lieu etc.


9. Performance:  

Regularly review team and individual performance and do NOT hesitate to make necessary changes when required, even if those are not popular in some quarters.


10. Fun:

Make sure the fun bit is not forgotten, find the way for the team to have fun too alongside the day to day job !


Amit Eitan: 


Amit Eitan


Amit Eitan’s entrepreneurial stamina and charismatic leadership have always inspired  organisations, peers and partners to peak performance, teamwork and collaboration, while his easy-going sense of humour has always played a defining role in bringing out the best in everyone and mobilising them to achieve stretch goals.  To find out more about Amit’s roles as   CIO, VP Consulting and Global Programme Director, you can look him up and get in touch with him here.



Twelve Tips for Terrible Teams

I’ve put together for you Twelve Tips on How to Create Terrible Teams.  For those of you who think that I regard dysfunctional, non-productive teams as a a benefit to an organisation, I have to emphasise that the article is ironic: it’s the ‘how not to’ school of learning.  Obviously, for terrific teams, just reverse my ‘advice’.

It’s the small actions that go a long way and as you read ahead, you’ll realise how little you have to do to make Teams that Tick, not crumble.

1. When appearing in meetings, never look interested: check your mobile messages and emails. There are two reasons for this: a) the meeting will simply drag on if you show interest; b) you are signalling to those present that you are part of a big, wide world that cannot simply stop just because they believe they need your time.

2. We understand how difficult it is to motivate teams. So why bother? Harbour the belief that everyone has only one driver: money. If an individual feels burdened and unappreciated, pay them more. However, don’t say ‘thank you’ or redelegate work. It takes too much effort.

3. Avoid conversations about career paths. The next thing you know is that you’ll have some incompetent individual wanting to know why they’re not CEO within 6 months.

4. Don’t delegate. You need to take full credit for everything. However, when it all goes wrong (and it will if you’re trying to do everything), then….

5. remember.. it’s not your fault! There’s a group of individuals who are there to make you look good, and if they’re not, they should be on the end of your foot.

6. If those who are promoted have a skills gap, then why did you promote them in the first place? Some Managers and HR Executives believe training is the answer. That takes time and money. At the most, buy them a self-help book and a couple of videos.

7. Forget this post-modern bilge of knowledge sharing, in the form of pods, lunchtime seminars or mentoring. Recognising the skills and experience of your teams will engender pomposity and you don’t need that on your plate. More to the point, if they demonstrate that they may know more than you about something, what’ll happen to your job?

8. Ensure that you ignore all emails from your staff. You are too important to deal with trivialities from the little people. Also, it breeds co-dependency.

9. We live in a fast moving world, where appearance matters. Put these two together and what we’re asking of the successful workforce is that they are seen to be working late. If you can’t balance work and private life, then buddy, one of them will have to go.

10. Reward yourself: in front of your team. By displaying your achievements, you will increase the likelihood that they will respect you. If they don’t respect you, at least they will know who’s boss, which is still pretty good going.

11. Constantly postpone appraisal dates. If they’re doing well, you’ll only have to reward your staff and that creates chaos and cost.

12. Set unreachable goals. Everyone needs something to strive for: keeps them on their toes

Let me know what YOU think are the three most important actions a manager can take to keep a team performing well.

Keeping it together during a shake up

When there’s been a mass ‘purge’ of people, those that stay can be left in the swill of survivor’s guilt, anger, resentment or apathy. It’s not a pretty sight. If motivation is linked to production then this does not augur well.

Here are 10 practical ways to increase motivation amongst staff…

1. Say thank you. Drop an email, a text or do this face to face: it’s simply not said enough but when it is people will be more likely to help out again.

2. In times of change, keep your people in the loop: a weekly team meet, a departmental newsletter, a town-hall meeting. Your company culture is different from others so you’ll find the best way to do this. We need enough information to make good decisions about our work and regain the feeling of being back in some control.

3. For those particularly affected by change, keep it personal and face-to-face. Listen to their concerns – that will also tell you what keeps them driven. Make sure they understand what any changes would mean for their job, goals, time allocation and decisions.

4. Job swapping is a fantastic way of building team collaboration and understanding. You’ll need to ensure the administration is water-tight, though. To keep it simple, you can avoid doing a straight swap and have people partner each other. What’s also a good idea is to have a 25 year old teaming up with a 55 year old and seeing what they learn from each other…Other ideas with less admin involved are BBQs, and liquid refreshments go down well (Julian Richer, founder of UK hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds, subs this with £5 a head allowance). In one of the banks in which I consulted recently, there’s a plethora of collectives with their own activities such as seminars, days out and mentoring opportunities. Note that all these activities span departments and roles.

5. Employees find interaction and communication with and attention from senior and executive managers motivational. In a recent study by Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), the Global Workforce Study which included nearly 90,000 workers from 18 countries, the role of senior managers in attracting employee effort exceeded that of contact with immediate supervisors. So when was the last time you saw them?

6. Keep ideas fresh. Training makes teams more cohesive and with the input of new ideas, adds new colours to the palatte. Lunch time slots where someone shares a skill or experience that they think could help others. For example, in a school that I know of the teachers regularly run sessions for each other on areas of individual speciality such as learning styles, creative storytelling and behaviour management.

7. Give public recognition to staff who have achieved particularly well. Whether a bouquet or an announcement on a notice board, give recognition where it’s due. Remember to acknowledge life events such as births, enquiring about holidays, and generally, showing interest in the individual.

8. Expand the job to include new, higher level responsibilities. Assign responsibilities to the employee that will help him or her grow their skills and knowledge. Stretching assignments develop staff capabilities and increase their ability to contribute at work. (Remove some of the time-consuming, less desirable job components at the same time, so the employee does not feel that what was delegated was “more” work.)

9. Employees appreciate a responsive and involved relationshipwith their immediate supervisor. Avoid cancelling regular meetings, and if you must, stop by the employee’s work area to apologize, offer the reason, and immediately reschedule. Regularly missing an employee meeting send a powerful message of disrespect.

10. Observe basic needs: those aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs will know that the basic needs consist of sustainance, climate and space. So if the toilet’s blocked, there’s no coffee in the kitchen and the offices are too hot to work in, you’ll need to address this. It will eat into your employees’ motivation like a moth into wool.