We spend a lot of time discussing the moves people-leaders should make to find success, whether for employee engagement, company profit, or culture-building. What’s just as important, however, is what people leaders shouldn’t do. 

Stumbling into pitfalls in the workplace can hurt a culture’s momentum and lead to rampant disengagement, sometimes paired with anger or confusion. What are these pitfalls? Sure, there are the easy ones – don’t yell at your team, don’t make them work weekends, don’t shoot them with squirt guns to wake them up – but there are also common problems that many leaders don’t realize they’re contributing to.

Here are seven sins managers should never commit:

Forgetting About Goals

We’re assuming the average manager does have some goals set (if not, we have a lot more to fix). Forgetting to monitor those goals, though, is akin to not setting them at all.

Whether these goals are short term or long, you need to stay focused on them to put them away and move on to the next. That’s why we like setting goals through OKRs; they each lead into each other and provide a natural timeline.

Active goals are an easy shortcut to employee engagement, but having no targets to aim at will have the exact opposite effect.

Putting a Cap on Upwards Mobility

Similarly, disengagement will fester if workers aren’t able to look forward to their own goals – moving upwards in their careers. Companies often make the mistake of envisioning employee stagnance instead of employee escalation, assuming everyone will be satisfied with staying in their spots for years to come. That always leads to disconnection.

93% of employees would remain at their organizations longer if they were offered career opportunities as time went on. On the other hand, an IBM report found that professionals who felt that their current organization wasn’t helping their career goals were an enormous 12 times as likely to consider a job switch!

Now, upwards mobility isn’t simply a case of constantly offering team members promotions. It comes in the form of employee development, offering Learning Management Systems and true resume-building responsibilities.

Ignoring Employee Accomplishments

As mean-spirited as that sounds, not giving your team their due when they go above and beyond is essentially ignoring them. Recognition is one of the top reasons people feel committed to their jobs, per an Achievers Workforce study, and missing that recognition will disengage them in a snap.

That recognition could come in the form of a rewards program or consistent public appreciation… or both! Whatever accomplishments earn your team some kudos is up to you, but you just can’t develop a culture of success while ignoring your crew’s wins.


You can’t have a list like this without mentioning micromanagement. Fortunately, micromanagement is becoming less common in this new world of hybrid work. Leaders don’t really have the opportunity to scrutinize remote workers’ habits, yet productivity has remained the same.

Examples aren’t necessary here, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Wherever you manage from, don’t do it micro.

Going Light on Feedback

This issue, on the other hand, is becoming more common. Today’s work environment is much less accepting of overly reproachful words from superiors, which is ultimately a good thing. However, the consequence is the fact that some managers shy away from criticism altogether, which doesn’t lead to success.

Not only can most workers handle constructive criticism well, they tend to want it. 65% of employees desire more feedback than they’re getting, and 85% of employees take more initiative when they receive feedback in the workplace. When little to no feedback is delivered, though, 40% become actively disengaged.

If you see an issue with your staff, don’t stay quiet about it. Deliver the criticism in a helpful way and you’ll see results quickly.

Neglecting Your Culture

Between all the stressors of the productivity side of the workplace, people leaders often forget to foster their culture. They also forget that building culture actually comes around to boost profits!

Initiatives like rewards programs and one-on-ones help culture indirectly, but you can also make moves to directly create a healthy culture. Our two favorite tricks are planning work events like Happy Hour Fridays and developing a new small-scale mission statement. The mission statement outlines what your team culture should be, and employee bonding is what helps create it.

Not Realizing Any of This

Some managers might read all this and say to themselves, “Well, I haven’t heard my staff mention any of these issues, so that’s good!” That’s exactly the problem. If you aren’t in tune with any of these concerns, you probably need to introduce some surveys.

Employee pulse surveys are a great way to get insights into the way your staff is feeling about subjects like work-life balance and culture. Asking your team about their workplace experience is the fastest way to learn what to fix and how to fix it. Make your first survey the beginning of something beautiful.

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