"Probably the biggest weakness shared by managers across all sectors and that is that they don’t see themselves clearly," says John Southwell, managing director of ETS, a talent development consultancy.

Top ten worst management mistakes that companies make

  • Being perceived as not treating everyone in the company fairly: Amazingly, only 54% of more than 50,000 respondents think their company treats them fairly.
  • Failing to communicate everything junior managers need to know: More than a quarter of managers (28%) say they do not know enough to achieve their goals.
  • Failing to involve managers and employees when the company undertakes change: Barely half of respondents thought their companies involved them enough (51%).
  • Failing to provide clear routes for promotion: Less than half of those surveyed (47%) were happy with their promotion prospects.
  • Not telling employees what the company wants to achieve over the next year: a third of those questioned (30%) did not know what the corporate objective was.
  • Stifling new ways of working: Again, almost a third of respondents (31%) cited a failure to allow them to try new ways of working.
  • Letting the promotion system be perceived as unfair: More than a third of managers (37%) did not agree that their promotion system was fair.
  • Failure to motivate managers to do the best job they can: More than a third of managers (35%) did not feel motivated in this way by their company.
  • Not providing satisfactory training: Some 34%, one third, of managers were dissatisfied with training and development.
  • Failure to provide career development: More than a third (36%) were unhappy with career development opportunities.

Research conducted by ETS found the commonest misperceptions surround fairness and ability to set objectives.

While 84% of managers believe they are fair, a smaller 69% of their staff thinks that this is the case. In contrast, a meagre 39% reckon they are good at objective setting compared to a greater 56% of their employees.

The first thing you should do when someone is promoted to manager is to give them a clear picture of their behaviours, according to Southwell. ETS promotes the 360 degree appraisal as a primary means of obtaining this information but reckons just 10% of all managers currently have access to this mechanism.

Other career advisers concur but criticise the glib use of 360 appraisals: “All too often they are just 180 degree in their reach. People check with their boss and their staff but forget to enlist opinion from internal and external clients," points out Peter Wilford, career development consultant with Career Balance.

Wilford says when appraisals are used correctly it’s quite common for them to unveil deluded managers. “I’ve talked to managers who rate their skills as leaders and communicators and think they’re good at involving staff. But their employees think they are remote and unapproachable.”

It is possible to obtain feedback from more informal venues such as the coffee machine or the water cooler. However, points out Southwell, some managers find it difficult to raise the topic while employees may find it even more difficult to give candid feedback.

For this reason a 360 degree appraisal solicits feedback anonymously and should provide an opportunity to give comment in a confidential way.

ETS has launched an online 360 degree appraisal tool for the 90% of managers without access to the process.