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How Many Stupid Mistakes Have You Made?

October 06, 2017 | John Salustri

We all do it. We all make stupid mistakes--albeit some more than others. I once heard some pundit say he made every mistake in the book. But he made them only once. Frankly, I can’t even claim that achievement.

With all the talk these days about grooming future leaders and mentorship, all of us as managers of teams (not just property managers) can learn from the mistakes of others--even though we may not learn as well or as quickly from our own.

Darryl Rosen, a performance coach for managers and salespeople, recently enumerated for the American Management Association “Seven Dumb Manager Mistakes.” See how often you appear on the list:

First up is Assuming people are paying attention (when they're really planning tonight's menu). Ever see a team member surreptitiously texting under the desk while you’re talking? Paying attention is your job, not your team’s, argues Rosen. Curatives for the wandering mind include asking questions of your team and having “members verbalize their next action steps.”

Goof Number Two is Turning the job into an episode of "Survivor." Voting the weaklings off the island is a surefire way to burn out your top performers, Rosen says. This is where real management comes in, you know, the training and mentoring stuff you hear so much about. Rather than trimming the sails, ask your people how you can help them achieve their goals. “Let them know you'll support them along the way,” says Rosen, “and that you’ll provide the resources they need to win the challenge.”

I fear the next managerial mistake is more common than anyone of us wants to admit: Hiding behind e-mail to avoid a difficult discussion. “C'mon,” Rosen urges. “Be a leader and set an example. First, prepare for the talk. Next, ask yourself how you helped create this problem” (Writer’s note: Woah!) “When you meet with the parties involved, speak in facts. Don't make assumptions about people’s characters based on their actions. Ask questions, show respect, discuss action steps attached to consequences and come to a mutual agreement.”

Next up is Turning into the Incredible Hulk. We mentioned avoiding a “Survivor” mentality. But also try to avoid “Fear Factor.” As Rosen says, “If you wouldn't say it to your significant other like that, you shouldn't say it to your employees. Anything that can be said in a negative manner can also be said in a positive manner.” Take a breath before spouting negativity and turn a negative statement into its positive counterpart. It may not feel as immediately rewarding, but think of the productivity you’ll gain.

On a related note, don’t Impersonate the Emperor in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Is anyone brave enough to tell you what you don't want to see about yourself or the company?” he asks and then advises you to not rely on others. Rather, take frank assessment of yourself, the clarity you bring as a manager and your ability to “share your expectations in a straightforward manner. Can your people count on you to lead them with intelligence, vision and consistency? Do you hold yourself accountable for everything that happens under you? Do you punish or reward those who give you feedback?” These are challenging questions, but a much better alternative than appearing naked before the world.

Mistake Number 6 is Being a helicopter manager. Micromanagement is a fertile ground for growing stupidity and fear, says Rosen--and certainly for suppressing creativity. He suggests you “set aside one specific hour a day when [team members] can call or stop by to go over open items, questions, concerns and so forth. Encourage them to solve their own problems the rest of the time.”

Finally, in a sort of reverse condition to Goof Number One, Watching their lips move, but hearing nothing. Rosen provides a quick test: “Can you look at each of your direct reports and identify each person's greatest challenge?” If you come up empty, you’re not paying attention, or listening. “Help others feel understood by turning down the volume of your ego and turning up the volume of your listening,” he says. “When people talk to you, ask them clarifying questions.” Then, he says, shut up and listen.

So, as we asked at the top of this column, How much of yourself do you see here?

(To read the complete article, please click here.)

About the Author

John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM's website. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of, the industry's premier real estate news website, where he managed the daily output of 25 international reporters, and prior to that, he was editor of Real Estate Forum Magazine. John is a four-time winner of the National Association of Real Estate Editors' Award for Excellence in Journalism.


17 Aug 2018 | Laura Hagan, CPM, CCIM
Very good article!
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