SBOA: The Magazine 2015 Edition - Page 22

10 Common Leadership & Management Mistakes:
Avoiding The Pitfalls
Part 1

It's often said that mistakes provide great learning opportunities. However, it's much better not to make mistakes in the first place.

Here are ten of the most common leadership and management errors, and what you can do to avoid them. If you can learn about these here, rather than through experience, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble.

1.Not Providing Timely Feedback

You have a very capable and productive property manager, but they have a habit of answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. You are aware of this and want to address it but are waiting for the annual performance review to tell them what they are doing wrong. Unfortunately, until they have been alerted to the problem, they will continue putting off potential customers.

Failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don't provide prompt feedback to your people, you're depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

To avoid this mistake, learn how to provide regular and timely feedback to your team. During store visits is a great time to review not only operations but also customer service standards and overall management of the property. Use a well-developed “Store Visit Report” that gives you an opportunity to put in writing key points of the store visit, as well as areas of improvement.

2.Not Making Time for Your Team

When you are a manager or leader, it's easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you do not make yourself available to your team.

Yes, you have tasks that need to get done, but your team must come first. Without you being available when they need you, your employees will not know what to do, and they will not have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.

Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop a system that allows you to be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when "your door is always open", so that your team know when they can get your help.
Once you are in a leadership or management role, your team should always come first - this is what good leadership is all about.

3.Being Too "Hands-Off"

One member of your team has just completed an important project. The problem is that they misunderstood the project's specifications, and you didn't stay in touch with them as they were working on it. Now, they have completed the project in the wrong way, and you are faced with explaining this to an angry owner.

Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement. Yet, going to the opposite extreme by managing with a “hands-off approach” is not a good idea either. It is always a matter of balance.

4.Being Too Friendly

Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people on our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get along with. However, you will sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you are too friendly with them. Learn how to say no to specific requests, this will allow for a more professional atmosphere and at the same time, protect your boundaries in a position of authority.

This does not mean that you cannot socialize with your team members. However, you do need to set clear boundaries between being a friend and being the boss.

5.Failing to Define Goals

When your employees do not have clear goals, they muddle through their day. It affects productivity and efficiency when employees do not know what they are working for, or what their work means. They also cannot prioritize their workload properly, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.

Avoid this mistake by learning how to set realistic goals for your staff. Use a tracker to identify day-to-day responsibilities, and detail the resources to draw upon. Also, be sure to align the goals of your team to that of the mission of the organization.

6.Misunderstanding Motivation

Do you know what truly motivates your team? Here's a hint: chances are, it's not just money! Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their team is only working for monetary reward. However, it's unlikely that this will be the only motivator as many other opportunities or rewards provide benefit.

For example, people seeking a greater work/life balance might be motivated by working half days or having flexibility in their work schedule. Others may be motivated by factors such as achievement, promotion, extra responsibility or praise.

7.Hurrying Recruitment or Waiting Too Long To Replace Someone

As your store count grows, you expand your property or deal with turnover, your team will take on a larger workload. It's important to have enough people "on board" to cope with it. But filling a vacant role too quickly can be a disastrous mistake.

Hurrying recruitment can lead to recruiting the wrong people for your team: people who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. They might also require additional training, and slow down others on your team. With the wrong person, you'll have wasted valuable time and resources if things do not work out and they leave. What's worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to "carry" the under-performer. You can avoid this mistake by learning how to recruit effectively, and by being particularly picky about the people you bring into your team.

8.Not "Walking the Walk"

If you make personal telephone calls during work time, or speak negatively about your CEO, can you expect people on your team not to do this too? Probably not.
As a leader, you need to be a role model for your team. This means that if they need to stay late, you should also be available late to help them. Or, if your organization has a rule that all managers are expected to follow, you need to be abide by those same rules. The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality will not help you earn respect from your team. The same goes for your attitude. If you exude negativity, your team will follow.

So remember, your team is watching you all the time. If you want to shape their behavior, start with your own.

9.Not Delegating

Some managers do not delegate, because they feel that no one else can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as workload increases, and as they become stressed and burned out. It can also tell your team that you do not trust them to do the job or to make mistakes.

Delegation does take a lot of effort up-front, and it can be hard to trust your team to do the work correctly. But unless you delegate tasks, you are never going to have time to focus on the "broader-view" that most leaders and managers are responsible for. What's more, you'll fail to help further strengthen your team, thus taking the pressure off of you. Be mindful of your team’s capabilities and strengths. Do not ask a team member who struggles with math to create a spreadsheet or ask someone who is a novice on the computer to send out group e-mails.

10.Misunderstanding Your Role

Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities can be very different from those you had before.
Managing means being organized. Learn how to best prioritize your tasks. Find a time management system that works best for you and use it to stay on track.

Take ownership. As a leader, the ultimate decision rests with you, make sound choices and not snap judgments. Partner with your team to find the best solutions but understand the final verdict is yours.

By Andy Ney
District Manager
The Jenkins Organization
Houston, TX

About the Author:

Andy Ney is a district manager for the Jenkins Organization based in Houston, Texas. The Jenkins Organization is a fully-integrated real estate company specializing in the self storage industry. With expertise in acquisition, development, ownership, management and disposition of self storage properties. The company oversees the performance of third party management for over 50 facilities. In total, manage over 3.5 million square feet of self storage space, and have over 21,000 customers. We currently manage self storage projects throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Our management portfolio is valued in excess of $175,000,000. Since 1995, The Jenkins Organization, Inc. has developed and acquired self storage projects in seven different cities totaling over 1,500,000 square feet. We have been directly involved in over $150,000,000 in self storage transactions since October, 2010.