In CEB View’s last Talent Matters post we discussed how difficult it is to work for a bad boss. But what if, instead of working for one, you are one?
Of course it’s not easy being the boss. Research from CEB’s CLC Human Resources program shows that the three areas that most managers – even great ones – struggle with are evaluating employee performance, providing effective feedback, and turning around underperformance. These are hard things to do and because the way you do them directly affects your team, any missteps are likely to create friction.
Fortunately, the recession seems to have improved many employee-manager relationships but boss-bashing is still a favorite pastime (as proved by last week’s traffic on the first “bad boss” piece). So, how do you know if your employees are just letting off steam or if you are truly difficult to work with? Unfortunately, many bad bosses are the last to know how awful they are to work under. This may be because you aren’t getting the feedback you need, you’re disconnected from your employees or you just aren’t watching out for the signs.
Here are five indications that you may be a worse boss than you thought:
- Meetings happen without you: If you notice that your employees are getting together to talk about work and not including you, there may be a problem. When employees don’t believe a manager is competent or cares about their work, they are likely to find ways to work around him.
- Problems blow up before you hear about them: Employees feel comfortable going to good bosses when there is a conflict or an issue because they don’t fear retribution. If you haven’t signaled that you are a partner in solving problems, or worse that you will punish people who bring them to you, you are going to be the last to hear when something negative happens. This greatly hinders your ability to handle problems early on before they become disasters.
- You don’t know what your employees care about or enjoy doing: What motivates employees is not the same across the board. To inspire your people to go above and beyond, you have to get to know them through open and honest conversations. Struggling managers are often too consumed with themselves to learn more about their people.
- Your people don’t know where they stand: If you are one of those bosses that complain that your employees are insecure and always asking for your input or approval, ask yourself why they might be behaving that way. All people need effective feedback to do their jobs well. Good bosses don’t hesitate or neglect to tell employees whether they are performing well. Leaving your people in the dark will only lead to disengagement and confusion about what you want them to do.
- No one disagrees with you: Sometimes the worst bosses just assume everything is going well. They don’t hear about any problems and everyone seems to agree with every brilliant idea they have. It may be less that you are a genius and more that they are terrified of you. Open disagreement is a sign of a healthy and innovative work environment. If everyone is standing around nodding, it’s time to take a hard look at your leadership.
What To Do If It’s You