Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rachel Stones. Her opinions are her own.
Unless you’re a newcomer to the workforce, you’ve likely had a boss or two and through your experience have dealt with good bosses and not-so-good bosses. In some cases, maybe your boss was the deciding factor on whether to stay or leave a company. In short, good bosses can be hard to come by and seasoned employees know this.
If you’ve put in your dues and worked hard for a promotion to a managerial position, you are now the boss. Ideally, you’ll inspire and lead your team to greatness like good bosses from your past. But, if you’re getting the cold shoulder or blank stares from your employees you might want to consider if the problem is you.
Now that you’re in a position to manage, delegate and inspire, let’s review those attributes of the not-so-good bosses to avoid at all costs and how you should be leading instead.
1. Take credit for everything
Taking credit is the most commonly cited reason for employees leaving a company when their boss is the reason for their departure according to a study conducted by BambooHR. When an employee works hard to complete a project or task and they do a fantastic job, nothing takes away that feeling of pride and accomplishment faster than a manager taking all the credit. And in place of that feeling of accomplishment, they’re likely left with feelings of anger and resentment.
On the other hand, a manager who appreciates and gives credit to their team members is doing the right thing and they’re gaining the trust and loyalty of their employees. Employees who are appreciated also believe it helps their productivity in the workplace. This translates to better workers who feel motivated to succeed.
Putting this into action, be sure to take opportunities to highlight the work of your employees. When presenting to upper management or even in team meetings, be sure to credit ideas and work to the contributor responsible for it. Thank you notes, email blasts, blurbs in the company newsletter touting a team’s member outstanding work can all help avoid the “bad boss” stigma and give your employees the motivation to continue producing quality work.
How do you feel when you’re working on a project and someone is hovering at your shoulder watching you work? It’s annoying, right? That’s what micromanagers do, either literally or figuratively. Employees don’t need a micromanager. They need someone to give them the right tools to get a job done and then take a step back.
Managers who hover and don’t empower their employees to get their jobs done can be aggravating and another reason why employees leave as a result of management. So, how do you know if you’re a micromanager? First, don’t assume you’re innocent. Second, seek feedback from your team to find out if you’re being overbearing. You could be hovering and not even know it.
If you find your employees are suffocating under your influence, try to figure out why and then tackle each reason. This doesn’t mean you need to stop managing completely, but try to establish trust with your team members by letting them do their work and succeed (or, in some cases fail) on their own. This article published by the Harvard Business Review has some excellent suggestions to get started.
3. Adopt a know-it-all attitude
Your entire team put together doesn’t know as much as you—or so you think. Managers who act as know-it-alls can discourage team members from contributing their knowledge and expertise to the team. Cultivating an atmosphere where bosses have all the answers also stifles the creativity which could lead teams to unique ideas and solutions to problems they encounter.
Good managers realize they need help to succeed and that each team member plays a vital role in accomplishing team tasks. Good managers will play to each employee’s strengths to produce the best results. Instead of producing answers (whether right or wrong), good managers will ask questions and encourage discussion and debate. They’ll work together with their team to ensure the result is in the best interest of all involved and not just their own ego.
4. Expect employees to read your mind
An employee didn’t complete a project to your satisfaction and you’re upset because they didn’t follow your instructions. But did you communicate those instructions in the first place? This scenario has played out in offices everywhere. It can be frustrating to employees when they are assigned a project and then discover their manager had a different vision for the end product from the start.
To avoid frustration (on both sides) communicate, communicate, and communicate. Communication is key to employee and manager relations. If employees don’t know your thoughts and ideas, don’t expect them to do their job correctly. They can’t read minds and neither can you, so try to be transparent in all aspects of your work.
This also applies to employee performance. Feedback is crucial to employee success. Holding regular one-on-one meetings with employees can help them feel valued as well provide opportunities for their career development. If they’re not meeting expectations, these meetings can provide a platform to make suggestions for improvement and offer support. Without feedback, employees will make assumptions about their own performance which may or may not align with your perceptions.
Communicating consistently also sets the example for team members to do the same, with you and their fellow team members.
5. Work your employees into the ground
Perhaps you work around the clock and demand the same of your employees. Or worse, you don’t work around the clock but pressure your employees to anyway. Whatever the case, a tendency to work your employees too much is a definite “bad boss” indicator.
Maintaining a good work-life balance is important, especially to the millennial generation which will soon comprise 75% of the workforce. Maintaining a good work-life balance can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For example, you might consider offering flexible working conditions like alternative hours or an option to work from home. This could be a huge factor for some employees. Personally, working hours that avoided peak traffic times made an enormous difference in my work-life balance. It enabled me to put in my time at the office, but avoid spending hours of my week in a bumper to bumper standstill.
Also, good bosses (and companies) should encourage their employees to use their PTO. Don’t let employees feel pressure to work all the time from you or their co-workers. Everyone needs the opportunity to step away and recharge.
6. Why it matters
Recruiting top talent isn’t easy and when you secure excellent employees, keeping them is vital. A common saying suggests, “people leave managers, not companies.” Working to develop the right leadership skills to interact with and drive your team to success is a worthy investment in employee retention.
Management style also tends to influence company culture. To foster a culture that encourages excellent manager and employee relations, companies can coach and train management in communication styles, public speaking, interpersonal relations and more. These skills can make a vast difference in the way managers interact with those underneath them.
In short, managers who are aware and constantly evaluating their own performance to make any necessary changes can develop good working relationships with their employees. They will avoid the vices mentioned above and work to strengthen and build their teams instead.