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15 management myths to avoid

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

July 23, 2020

We’ve all seen cartoons and sitcoms involving bosses, from Dilbert to The Office — but not every management style you see depicted in the media should be replicated in real life.

In particular, there are certain myths that employers incorrectly believe when it comes to employee management, and simply going along with them might cause you to lose top talent. Here we’ve listed some of the biggest myths about managing people, with tips on how employers can avoid these to reap better rewards.

Myth 1: Management is telling people what to do

Some people believe being a manager means you tell people what to do, but management is much more about influence than orders.

Right approach:

Management is about creating and aligning goals with the company’s vision, outlining expectations for your team, and managing team performance through regular constructive feedback. Managers need to motivate their teams and help them if they are stuck. They also need to provide opportunities for their teams to grow and achieve better productivity.

Myth 2: You have to keep people in line

Some managers believe that their job is to detect team members’ failures or catch them when they mess up.

Right approach:

A manager's job is to appreciate the team for performing well, share their success with other stakeholders and help them overcome their mistakes. You need to find out your team members’ strengths and weaknesses, provide them with opportunities and mentor them to achieve new skills.

Myth 3: You have to yell a lot

Being a manager doesn’t mean you have to yell or be harsh to make people do what you want.

Right approach:

If you find that people aren't handling their responsibilities, make sure you're providing clear instructions. Also, people often tend to listen more carefully when you speak softly than when you yell.

Myth 4: It's all about meeting goals and hitting targets

If you’re measuring only numbers (goals or targets achieved), you may win in the short term, but you could lose your long-term goals and face staff turnover.

Right approach:

A manager's success is measured by their team performance. Time on task, revenue generated, and targets achieved are perfect examples of meaningful measures. However, engagement, performance, employee satisfaction and professional development are equally important. Patterns, rather than measurements, carry essential information in staff engagements.

Myth 5: You should treat top performers better than others

Some managers believe that their best performers should receive preferential treatment in the office, but that's not the case.

Right approach:

If you want to be fair, provide equal opportunities for everyone to prove and improve their skills. Treating everybody the same doesn’t mean you can’t provide top performers more rewards because they earned them — based on their performance. Don’t provide unfair advantages to top performers, but do acknowledge them with rewards. This can also help you motivate your other team members.

Myth 6: You have to prioritize between people and work

As a manager, you shouldn’t have to prioritize between work and your staff. You just need to find a way to get the most from your employees, keeping them satisfied and always striving for more.

Right approach:

It’s better to work on getting your team members engaged and increasing their productivity simultaneously. Purpose-driven happiness is seen in employees who are engaged and satisfied in the long-term.

Myth 7: Fear is a good motivator

It’s a common myth that if you keep your staff in constant fear of losing their jobs, they’ll stay on edge. But if people are constantly worried about their positions, their productivity and engagement can suffer eventually.

Right approach:

Instead of threatening your staff, try positive reinforcement — support and help them utilize their full potential. People are much more likely to strive for excellence when they believe their efforts will be noticed and recognized. Also, employees are more productive in workplaces that allow them to have a healthy work-life balance and offer them opportunities for personal and career development.

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Myth 8: Some people just refuse to be motivated

Managers may believe that some employees are just lazy and won’t respond to anything.

Right approach:

Everyone has their hopes and desires or specific motivators. It’s your job as a manager to find out what drives each member of your staff and use that to get them up to par.

Myth 9: People prefer to set their own goals

Some people like to allow employees to determine their own goals and how they fit in with the overall target.

Right approach:

While many employees do relish a certain amount of freedom in their work, almost everybody performs better with the guidance, direction and support of a more experienced person. Work hand-in-hand with your staff to develop their goals and keep track of their performance against expectations at every step along the way.

Myth 10: Money is the best motivator

To encourage employees, some companies believe providing more money will keep morale high. While everyone would like to have more money, it does not necessarily equal job happiness.

Right approach:

Many studies show that a good work environment is a better motivator than money. Workplace factors such as career opportunities, culture, values and the senior leadership are equally important for motivating people to stay.

Myth 11: Some people are resistant to change

Some managers assume that their teams are resistant to change. While this can be true, most employees will be happy to see the workplace changing for the better.

Right approach:

You need to put forward the reasoning behind the changes to bring your team members out of the comfort zone. Provide your staff with the perspective of why the change matters and how it will be beneficial in the long run.

Myth 12: Feedback should be limited to annual reviews

While annual reviews are powerful tools for managers, they shouldn’t be the only way that you communicate with employees.

Right approach:

Providing your team members with feedback at different times can allow them to improve their performance gradually, rather than waiting for another annual review. You should review and assess the progress of individual staff and guide them to maximize their productivity whenever required.

Myth 13: Feedback should only flow downward

As a manager, you must provide clear and comprehensive feedback to your direct reports. However, you should also gather feedback from your team members.

Right approach:

If you’re not gaining feedback from that the people you manage, then you’re missing out on opportunities to improve your management strategies. Gaining feedback from your direct reports will provide you with areas to focus on more.

Myth 14: More work equates to better effectiveness

Managers often assume that the more they assign to their team members, the more efficient their staff will be. However, task delegation requires a more strategic approach.

Right approach:

Team management is the continuous process of setting individual and team goals that are aligned to the organization’s goals. If you want to truly empower your people, then delegate tasks based on your team members' proficiency and train them to become more efficient.

Myth 15: A single strategy can motivate all employees

Another myth is that there can be one solution that you implement to keep all employees engaged. However, the key strategy is to understand the motivations of each employee.

Right approach:

Managers should be flexible and responsive in their management approaches. Every employee is unique, not everyone responds to the same motivators, and what works for one employee may not work for another. Some people thrive under pressure, some love work recognition, some love a competitive environment, others freeze up when their work is compared to others’. It’s important to know your employees individually so that you can find methods of engagement that can work for them.

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Tasnim Ahmed
Tasnim Ahmed

Tasnim Ahmed is a content writer at Escalon Business Services who enjoys writing on a multitude of subjects that include finops, peopleops, risk management, entrepreneurship, VC and startup culture. Based in Delhi NCR, she previously contributed to ANI, Qatar Tribune, Marhaba, Havas Worldwide, and curated content for top-notch brands in the PR sphere. On weekends, she loves to explore the city on a motorcycle and binge watch new OTT releases with a plateful of piping hot dumplings!

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