The mistake I have most commonly made, especially earlier in my career, was not acting quickly enough when I knew in my gut that somebody probably wasn’t the best person for a role. I like to be liked, but sometimes managing people is not a popularity contest. So when a manager realizes that somebody is not right for their job, they need to act quickly — not just for their own success and survival, but also for the overall team.
The biggest change in my management style as I’ve become a more experienced manager has been to become less tolerant of mediocrity and more demanding. Earlier in my career, I was more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and look the other way on their imperfections.
I hate delivering bad news, especially about people’s performance. It’s one of the hardest things for a manager to do. What’s helped me get better at it is to focus more on the team. When I say to somebody, “You’re not performing up to the level that we need you to perform,” it’s not an indictment of that individual as much as me showing the proper respect to the rest of the team.