Unveiling the Veil: Why Do Managers Often Fail and What Can We Learn?

Ron McIntyre
4 min readMay 3, 2024

Manager failure rates can indeed vary widely, influenced by factors such as industry, company culture, economic conditions, and managerial training. It’s a complex landscape, but the right strategies and support can overcome these challenges.

Putting it into perspective, Gartner’s research, a trusted source in the business world, reveals that 51% of current managers grapple with more responsibilities and accountabilities than they can effectively manage. Many of you are facing this reality, often leading to burnout, reluctance to manage, and a host of other negative consequences. The key takeaway is that you are not alone in facing these challenges.

Unlocking the Secrets: Here are the Ten Common Reasons Why Managers May Stumble in Their Roles

  1. Mastering Communication Skills: Effective communication is not just a skill, it’s the bedrock of successful management. Failing to communicate expectations, feedback, and concerns clearly and effectively can result in misunderstandings and hamper team performance. It’s a common belief that we communicate well, but we often neglect to listen to or read our messages. This is a missed opportunity for everyone. Take a moment to self-evaluate every conversation, written communication, or opinion you express. Focus on building connections rather than just being heard.
  2. Poor Leadership Abilities: Leadership is about inspiring and motivating a team to achieve goals. Managers who lack leadership skills will struggle to gain respect and fail to inspire their team. Over the years, I’ve witnessed numerous instances where managers were placed in positions due to seniority, education, or cronyism without the necessary qualifications. The astute ones recognized their discomfort in these positions and requested to be removed, a decision I wholeheartedly applaud. The others found themselves in a sink-or-swim situation, and unfortunately, many sank.
  3. Inadequate Training: Managers who are promoted without adequate training can struggle to fulfill their roles effectively. This includes both people management and technical skills relevant to their industry. It’s important to note that this is a shortcoming of company leadership, not the individuals. If there is no progressive and inclusive program for moving people into management, the overall prospects for the company’s growth will be diminished. Remember, it’s not your fault but a systemic issue that needs to be addressed.
  4. Resistance to Change: Adaptability is critical in an ever-evolving business environment. Managers who resist change and new technologies can hinder their team and organization’s growth. This is true, and when I have encountered them over the years, their first comment is usually, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. However, there are times when disruption is necessary for a company to embark on innovation and creativity to grow.
  5. Failure to Delegate: Managers who try to take on too much themselves, rather than delegating tasks appropriately, can become overwhelmed and ineffective. Many new managers fall into the trap of saying that the buck stops here, and therefore, if my people don’t do it, then I will. This can be a deadly trap because it indicates that the manager is unwilling to empower their people, and once the people recognize this, they will sit back and let the manager do it all. This is unhealthy for the manager and the team.
  6. Neglecting Employee Development: Managers need to invest in the growth and development of their team members. Neglecting this can lead to stagnation and dissatisfaction within the team. Again, this is a failure of leadership because employee development is one of the first budgets to get cut when things get tough, where, in my opinion, this is when it should be expanded to stir up creativity and innovation.
  7. Lack of Empathy: Managers who lack empathy may not understand or relate to the challenges faced by their employees, leading to a lack of support and morale in the team. Many managers and leaders have fallen into the trap of treating people like tangible assets that can be discarded, manipulated, or misused. This is demoralizing and very detrimental to any company’s prospects.
  8. Mastering Decision-Making Skills: Decisiveness is crucial in management. A lack of ability to make timely, informed decisions can lead to missed opportunities and operational inefficiencies. This becomes a major stumbling block when the data stores and processes are antiquated and inaccurate. When an attempt is made to foster a decision, the person winds up with analysis paralysis or makes an improper decision that will cost the company’s reputation, profitability, and goodwill. This is a stark reminder of the high stakes involved in decision-making.
  9. Inability to Build a Team: Building a cohesive team is essential for success. Managers who fail to create a supportive and collaborative environment may face high turnover rates and low productivity. Too often, we oversimplify this process. The attitude is that we are a team because we work together, without recognizing that there is a subculture that develops with a trust and respect network woven into it. This subculture is the most critical element in team building, so if it is overlooked, the team will become competitive and dysfunctional.
  10. Not Setting Clear Goals: Teams struggle to understand what they are working towards without clear, achievable goals. Managers who fail to set and communicate these goals can leave their teams directionless. I focus this back on leadership because if the vision and purpose are not an integral part of the culture, then managers will have a tough time trying to tie practical goals into the team’s everyday functions.

These factors underscore the intricate nature and wide range of skills required for successful management. However, they also present avenues for personal growth and improvement. Practical management training and ongoing support are not just beneficial but essential in minimizing these failures and encouraging a culture of continuous learning and personal development.

By recognizing these challenges and actively seeking solutions, you can overcome them, grow, and excel in your role.



Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre is a Leadership Anthropologist, Author, and Consultant, who, in semi-retirement, is looking to help people who really want to make a difference.