Top 6 Human Resources Mistakes Managers Make All the Time

Posted by Kompass Professional Development on Aug 22, 2018 8:19:25 AM
Kompass Professional Development

Updated December 2022

Why do employees quit their jobs?

If you look at the research on this, you'll find that almost every single reason is a completely avoidable management mistake.

We're talking about routine blunders caused by lack of human resources training and poor leadership skills.

Why should you care? Because right at this moment, some of your top employees are thinking about quitting or actively seeking a new job.

Losing great employees costs more than just money. It eats up your time, slows productivity, and hurts overall workplace morale.

What are the most common human resources blunders managers are making? Let's start with these six HR sins.

1. Skimping on job descriptions

We're assuming you have a general idea of what each of your team members is responsible for. You can probably summarize each role in a sentence or two.

But do you really know the ins and outs of the tasks they perform on a daily basis? More to the point, does each employee know exactly what's expected of them, including both short and long-term goals?

What happens when it's time to fill one of those roles? Or when your company grows and you need to create a brand-new position?

The truth is, busy managers often skimp on creating fully fleshed-out job descriptions for each position in their company.

We're talking about smaller businesses that don't have a dedicated HR team to handle these things.

When interviewing someone new, managers tend to highlight some primary responsibilities and deliverables, while glossing over (or entirely forgetting about) others. Until you think it through carefully, you won't actually understand the full scope of each role, or be able to articulate it clearly to others.

This HR error opens you up to a host of problems down the line—especially when it comes to hiring, firing, and performance reviews (more on this later).


2. Asking off-limits questions during interviews

This usually happens accidentally. Most hiring managers don't mean to ask an inappropriate question while interviewing candidates for a new position—they simply have no idea they're crossing the line.

What shouldn't you be asking about during interviews? Examples include questions about:

  • Ethnicity and nationality
  • Sexual preferences
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Disabilities
  • Marital or family status

Inquiries like these can land you in serious hot water. Even a hint of discrimination can result in lawsuits against your business. These claims are incredibly common.

For example, in 2021, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (in the United States) received over 60,000 discrimination claims.

When interviewing applicants, simply stick to that job description you so carefully mapped out.

Focus exclusively on questions that determine whether candidates can fulfil the requirements of the role—and steer clear of anything that simply doesn't apply.

And of course, acquaint yourself with a complete list of unacceptable interview questions for the region in which you live!


3. Rushing through recruitment and hiring

Let's say your business is growing quickly and you're having trouble meeting demand. Or you suddenly lose a team member and feel pressured to replace that person ASAP.

You need to resolve that staffing problem quickly, so your business can get back on track with minimal disruption. It's completely understandable that you might want to rush through the recruitment and hiring process.

You might meet a candidate who really clicks with you and seems like a great fit—so you make them an offer before doing due diligence.

Now, there's something to be said for going with your gut and trusting your instincts. However, instinctive hiring practices that are totally unsupported by fact-checking and careful vetting are HR disasters just waiting to happen.

This is where that detailed job description comes into play. And having a consistent process you apply to every single interview and candidate.

Just think about the losses you could incur from rushing hiring decisions. You'll pay dearly in wasted money and time, and could even jeopardize your credibility as a leader.

Even basic human resources training can be extremely useful in this respect. You'll learn how to standardize hiring procedures and create a system that helps you find the best fit for each role, every time.


4. Failing to map out official workplace policies and procedures

Do you have an employee handbook with clearly defined policies for things like workplace harassment, attendance, and leaves?

If you're a small business, you probably don't have an HR specialist to put this together for you. So it falls to managers to guide new hires through expectations around performance, policies, and workplace procedures.

When it comes to workplace standards, you need to eliminate all ambiguity from the equation. If you don't, you'll have a hard time dealing with transgressions and performance issues down the line.


5. Neglecting to give regular & effective performance feedback

Still holding that basic, once-a-year performance review? Letting months and months go by without organizing an official sit-down with your team members?

Far too many managers neglect to schedule routine check-ins with employees to go over expectations, evaluate performance, set new goals, and address any problem areas.

This is problematic for several reasons. Without thorough feedback, your employees may feel:

  • Directionless
  • Unfulfilled
  • Unappreciated
  • Unsupported in achieving key goals
  • Unclear about expectations
  • Like their ideas don't matter

It's absolutely crucial to give praise where it's due and deal swiftly and effectively with performance shortfalls. You can't do that if you're not organizing regular sit-downs with your staff and going over things like short and long-term goals, growth opportunities, and support resources.

This is something that should probably be happening more than just once a year.

Also, performance reviews are a good opportunity to document any problems an employee is having with regard to meeting expectations.

Should you decide to let someone go, you'll need to refer to this documentation to explain your reasoning. Failure to do so can land you in legal trouble (and is simply poor leadership).


6. Ignoring conflicts between team members

This is another very common HR management mistake. And again, a very understandable one. After all, you're busy trying to grow your business. You don't want to get involved in what may seem like petty squabbles between employees.

On the other hand, those so-called petty conflicts can quickly pollute your entire workplace culture. Ignore them and you'll lose good employees who feel overlooked and unsupported.

Meanwhile, disgruntled team members will make life unpleasant for everyone around them. Productivity will plummet. Inevitably, the discord will impact every aspect of your organization, and your clients will feel the difference.

So, how should managers intervene effectively in employee disputes?

Basic HR training can provide practical instruction on conflict management and mediation techniques.

Managers must learn how to tackle conflict head-on, avoid taking sides, and whenever possible, facilitate resolutions that benefit all parties. Master this skill and you'll have achieved a key marker of exceptional leadership. Your employees will stay loyal and your business will thrive.


Looking for more tips on managing your team and steering your business toward success?

Check out the Human Resources Management certificate offered by Kompass Professional Development. 

Learn a practical set of skills that will help you hire, cultivate, and retain the best possible employees for your business.

Study online and complete the certificate in three to six months, depending on the pace you choose.

Click below to learn more about the training and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help.

Explore the Human Resources Management Certificate


Topics: human resources

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