99 Reasons Why Managers Fail

Unsuccessful managers fail as managers because they make mistakes in the following key areas of their job:

Team and Task preparation

1.Set unclear / vague team objectives

2.Fail to agree individual KPIs with team members

3.Rush the planning step: overlook key points in plans

4.Do not get commitment from the team / individuals to plans  and their responsibilities

5.Overlook the need to put in controls (e.g. quality) before implementing activities

Implementing Team Activities

6. Micro manage or under manage

7. Fail to heed controls providing information warning of  potential failure

8. Do not ‘ walk the talk ‘ , do not lead by example

9. Instil a blame / fear culture

10. Focus on criticism of people and their failures, often in front of others

People Motivators

11. Do not really like people! Prefer to work on their own.

12. Fail to get to know unique needs / motivators of team members

13. Overlook the need for positive reinforcement of success for team members.

14. Only use a heavy-handed, autocratic management style

15. Refuse to listen to the ideas of team / team members and use their ideas


16. Talk ‘at’ versus talk ‘with’ their people

17. Fail to communicate the bigger picture and the importance of the team

18. Fail to pass on important corporate communications

19. Keep information to themselves, are overly secretive

20. Rely too heavily on email or other one way communications vs dialogue / two-way face-to-face communications

Employee Support

21. Neglect to coach / train employees

22. Fail to provide adequate resources for the team

23. Ignore team / team member grievances

24. Overlook personal development needs of the team

25. Obstruct employee promotion


26. Criticise his/her team to others

27. Blame team versus themselves for problems / poor results

28. Lack confidentiality in dealing with people; untrustworthy

29. Criticise their manager in front of their team

30. Find fault with their peers/colleagues in front of their team

Honesty / Integrity

31. Betray the trust of others

32. Tell half truths and even lies

33. Put a ‘spin’ on important communications

34. Lie to protect their ‘back’ / reputation

35. Use  ‘Corporate resources ‘ for their own purposes/ ends


36. Unfocussed in managing their priorities

37. Unplanned in dealing with others , do not like planning

38. Unthinking of others’ needs

39. Unaware of own impact on others

40. Unrepentant of poor decision-making


41. Lack a vision

42. Have too many visions / too frequently!

43. Fail to achieve willing followership to future plans

44. Have poor communication skills, lack passion when communicating their ideas

45. Lead by threat


46. Lack technical knowledge of own/ team’s work

47. Possess poor knowledge of IT systems / automation/ internal processes

48. Have low level of knowledge of customers’ needs / problems

49. Are short term / tactical thinkers only

50. Fail to keep up to date with best practices / leading-edge thinking; are out of date


51. Do not regularly assess team’s results

52. Unable to analyse results to identify causes of problems

53. Bring bias to assessment of results

54. Do not want to confront the brutal facts, put their ‘ heads in the sand’

55. Do not use regular assessments/feedback to improve their team and its results

Commercial Thinking

56. Lack understanding of costing processes

57. Lack understanding of pricing processes

58. Struggle in the area of business planning

59. Are not really interested in the commercials

60. Do not really understand the basics of finance / budgeting / forecasting

Decision Making

61. Make decisions too quickly with inadequate information, take unnecessary risks

62. Make too many assumptions when solving problems

63. Fail to consult with others before introducing changes

64. Use too much personal bias

65. Fail to think through consequences of decisions


66. Fail to identify root cause of problems

67. Lack skills in using different problem solving processes

68. Prefer to avoid problem solving, are indecisive under pressure

69. Lack skills in creative problem solving

70. Involve the wrong people in problem solving for the wrong reasons

Influencing Skills

71. Lack ability to gain rapport

72. Awkward in initiating conversations

73. Lack self confidence/personal credibility in dealing with others

74. Use an inflexible style when it comes to influencing team members

75. Unable to influence upwards/sideways


76. Prefer to avoid networking

77. See networking as self-promotion

78. Uncomfortable in making new contacts

79. Lack social skills in having non work-based discussions

80. Do not invest in building relationships with others; have very small circle of contacts

‘Things’ versus ‘ People Oriented’

81. Avoid people interaction

82. Prefer working on own on practical, tangible issues

83. Focus on results / outcomes only; ignore poor team morale

84. Lack understanding of  the correct use of humour

85. Avoid tackling problems between team members

Team Building

86. Do not ‘play’ people to their strengths

87. Fail to empower the team/individuals to be self-managing

88. Avoid tackling under-performing team members

89. Fail to recruit the right people

90. Rarely delegate to grow / develop people; do too much themselves

Change Management

91. Fail to plan the change

92. Lack stakeholder influencing/management skills

93. Fail to consult, communicate, and collaborate with key people

94. Fail to overcome resistance to change

95. Fail to manage conflicts in the implementation phase

Personal Presentation

96. Have poor presentation / public speaking skills

97. Exhibit poor / inappropriate body language

98. Pay no attention to cultural norms; look out of place

99. Use unacceptable language, humour, and illustrations when making points

Oh, and maybe one more!


By highlighting any of the points which apply to you, you can create a checklist of items to be included in your own personal development plan. Better still, get your team members to rate you against the points as well. Discover any blind spots you might have!


To find out more about this topic contact me or join me at Jeremy Francis HR
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