7 mistakes leaders make that drive their staff to the breaking point

Departments - Learn to Lead | Managing your business relationships

Give your staff the direction and resources they need.

August 16, 2016


As a busy professional, cooking can sometimes be a challenge. Perhaps it is for you as well, especially during the hectic spring season. Enter HelloFresh, a company that delivers farm fresh ingredients to my door.

While it might be quicker for them, HelloFresh doesn’t just drop off a box filled with food and expect me to figure out how to make my meals. Instead, they group the food into three separate boxes with every ingredient clearly labeled. They include detailed directions and pictures of the ingredients and finished product. Thanks to their clarity, I now cook like a gourmet chef and am a huge fan.

What about you as a leader? Are you setting your staff up for success? Do you ensure they have the materials and directions they need to be successful?

Your ability to provide clear guidelines greatly impacts your employees stress levels. If you’re good at giving directions, you’re almost certain to have a highly productive staff. If you’re a micromanager or a “they’ll figure it out” kind of leader, I’m sad to inform you that you are creating unproductive chaos, mistakes and frustrations.

Set those you lead up for success by avoiding the following mistakes leaders make when giving directions:
  1. Expecting your staff to read your mind. While it would be helpful to have Vulcan powers like Spock, mere humans aren’t capable of reading another person’s mind. You would never play darts in the dark. Don’t ask your staff to.
  2. Failing to check for accurate understanding. It generally takes less than a minute to ensure that your directives are clear. Even if it takes 10 minutes to re-clarify, that’s far better than having an employee work all day, week or month to please you only to find they misunderstood your request.
  3. Information overload. Unfortunately, some people have difficulty differentiating between what is critical and trivial information. Make sure you treat your employees like intelligent adults, and watch out for eyes that are quickly glazing over.
  4. Information anorexia. While too much information is frustrating, too little information leads to speculation, wasted time and unwarranted stress. Find each employee’s sweet spot and watch them soar.
  5. Mixed information. There’s little worse than contrary information. Send clear messages and create the expectation that if something isn’t clear, you want them to ask for clarification rather than make assumptions and unnecessary mistakes.
  6. Withholding critical information. If you want your staff to feel betrayed and set up for failure, hold back crucial information. Do it even one time and you’ll develop a reputation for setting others up to fail.
  7. Dribbling out information. Avoid, “Oh and by the way …” by spending the time you need to clarify assignments before you give them out. You’ll cut down frustrations and the time it takes for others to complete the job.

While it takes time to set your employees up for success when assigning new tasks, you’ll more than get it back in increased productivity and job satisfaction. Who wouldn’t want to work for such a great boss?

Sherene, the Leadership IQ expert, works with organizations and individuals who want to enhance effectiveness, increase engagement and raise productivity. Learn more at sherenemchenry.com.