The 4 Biggest Mistakes I Made as a Manager

I made many more than 4 but let’s start with these ones…

Imagine that you could solve very difficult business problems at your work. Problems that are not even being noticed anymore because there were so many attempts to get them out of the way without success.

Problems that are often discussed but nobody could solve.

Problems that are now “part of the business” meaning: everybody has learnt to live with them.

They became a part of your company costs structure.

Imagine if you would be the only person who could solve it. Kind of a hero…

Once I wanted to become such a ‘genius’. Since my study of Chemical Engineering I was always triggered by process PERFORMANCE. I was interested in process optimising a lot.

I ended up working in Finance at the world’s largest oil and gas company.

There, again, I was fascinated with predicting financial performance of the company and their customers.

Later when I was a Finance Manager at other companies, my object was to improve the business processes and therefore create efficiency and reduce costs.

The problem was I had no clue how to start…While figuring out, I have made these 4 mistakes among others:

#1 Push info instead of Pull

I made a bunch of reports, analysed operating results, pieces produced, production-lead-times, on-time-delivery rates etc. and tried to push my colleagues in the operation to streamline how they worked. I did not ask them what information they needed. I thought I can figure it out myself. As a result I have “buried” them with lots of data and they did not know what to use and I did not know what information I should stop producing.

#2 Thinking for someone else = not respecting

I interviewed operators and supervisors and designed their new processes behind my desk. I thought because of my title, being their manager, I ought to set up their new process. The fact is I did not know enough about the day-to-day operation, knew nothing about the details because I was hardly ever on the shop floor. Actually, by creating a new process, I took over their responsibility not giving them the credit and respect for their position.

#3 Emphasis on end-control

Because I did not know at that time that controlling only the end result creates many possibilities on the way for mistakes to happen, I put up all sorts of control procedures to avoid mistakes and force people to do a better job. As a consequence operators were not putting enough effort in ensuring right quality during production steps so mistakes were carried through the process and cumulated until it was too late or too expensive to correct it.

#4 Re-designing without involvement

When redesigning a process, I did it on my own instead of involving those being part of the process and letting them come up with new ideas and solutions. Because the participants were not initially involved in the redesign, they were eager to proof to me that my solutions to improving the process were not the right one.

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