Anyone who’s ascended to a leadership role knows that being a boss isn’t easy, and unfortunately, there’s no concrete guide on how to do it right.
Because of the difficulty and unclear guidelines, many inexperienced managers do more harm than good when supervising and growing their teams. Even those who think they’re running an effective ship can wear down their staff without realizing it.
Below, we’ll look at the three clearest warning signs that you’re a bad boss and what you can do to correct them.
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1. You Don’t Have Any Short or Long-Term Plans
It’s challenging to gauge how much you should put on your employees’ plates when you’re a boss with a different workload and schedule. Of course, all leaders hand their teams projects with deadlines. But good leaders know how to plan short-term work so as not to overwhelm or underwhelm their employees.
On the other hand, a bad boss will simply hand tasks out with no accurate sense of how long they take to finish and set an arbitrary deadline for when each employee must complete them. Perhaps most crucially, an ineffective boss will go about their day without seeking additional input.
If your team repeatedly misses deadlines or doesn’t work diligently through full days, you’re likely not planning their workload as carefully as you should.
Bad managers often make short-term work even more taxing by not setting long-term goals and giving that work any purpose. You might have a clear idea of why you’re handing weekly projects to your team, but if you don’t set an achievable goal for them to work toward, that labour will quickly turn grating, and the results will show in their effort.
How to Be a Better Planner
An effective manager will work directly with their employees to gauge their comfort level with their workload. Of course, it’s best if you have first-hand experience with every task so that you can measure how long they take to finish at an average pace. But if not, chatting with employees about how long their work takes will give you all the information you need.
As for long-term goals, setting quarterly and annual benchmarks will give your employees purpose throughout the week. And working with your team to set those goals collaboratively provides them ownership and pride over their labour since they’ll have a say in the benchmarks.
2. You Don’t Give Your Employees Space
Everyone in leadership positions wants their team’s work to be as sharp as possible. But what separates a bad boss from a good one is not having faith in their employees to produce that top-quality work on their own.
Bad bosses hover over their employee’s shoulders every day and dictate how they should do their jobs. Of course, you should give your team coaching and constructive feedback to help them grow, but not trusting them to complete the basics of their jobs without extensive direction wears on employees’ motivations.
Why You Should Avoid Micromanaging
The urge to micromanage essential tasks is more common than effective leaders care to admit. But even though you have a clear vision for how you want a job finished, it’s essential to give them space to figure it out themselves for a few reasons.
First, not micromanaging shows your team that you have faith in them, which builds confidence in self-motivated employees. Second, letting employees tackle problems on their own can give them the creative freedom to avoid burnout for longer. And finally, not micromanaging can lead to better results since your team might find a solution from their unique perspective that you didn’t consider.
3. You Treat Your Team Poorly
Inexperienced bosses often mistreat their employees more than they realize to try and steer their company toward better results. But harsh leadership tactics that prioritize the bottom line over team members’ personal needs lead to decreased performance on top of disgruntled employees.
Only offering negative feedback after a project is a classic mistake that every bad boss makes. Of course, you should identify your team’s weak points to help them grow, but nitpicking minor issues or only focusing on what went wrong will frustrate your team and even make them question their ability.
Overworking team members is another classic mistake ineffective managers make. They want their most experienced employees to take on the most critical projects, but that often requires them to work longer hours and with more effort just to satisfy their boss’s demands. The harsh workload can lead to more frustration, burnout, and mental health issues.
How to Boost Your Employees’ Confidence
Every good boss knows how to balance fair critique and praise in their feedback. Effective management isn’t just praising everything about your team when their work isn’t up to par. Instead, coach them on where they can improve while also identifying highlights where they can feel proud.
Some bosses pair each negative remark with one or two good ones so that their employees feel respected and appreciated while they learn about how they can improve. And if you can’t find any good notes to focus on, be sure to issue your constructive feedback with an even temper and more coaching than criticism.
Effective managers also give their employees space to preserve their mental health. Not loading extra work and complex projects onto team members without their input, refraining from messaging them after work hours or encouraging them to work overtime, and connecting with employees through non-work-related conversations are all telltale signs of a good boss.
How to Become a Good Boss
Correcting those three classic mistakes will take you from a bad boss to an average one. But if you want to elevate from someone your team members tolerate to someone they love working with, you’ll also need to avoid these follies.
Don’t Put Yourself on a Higher Level
Good managers set an example for their team and give them a hardworking leader that they can aspire to be. But that doesn’t mean leaders are supposed to be perfect, and when they pretend they are, it does more harm than good.
Leaders who don’t admit their mistakes, either by making excuses, blaming others, or pretending they didn’t happen, frustrate employees who know they would be held accountable for the same blunder. Not only that, but rejecting responsibility for an error can create a workplace culture where team members don’t care about their missteps and overlook them or pass blame elsewhere.
Owning up to your errors shows employees that your workplace culture demands accountability, even from leaders.
Don’t Make Everything About Work
People work better in workplace environments where they feel welcome, and the best way to create that environment is to take time after work to connect with your team personally.
Arranging after-hours dinners or casual get-togethers where the spotlight is on your employees’ lives, families, and hobbies shows everyone that you care about them as people, not just replaceable labourers.
That dedication will make your team happier to work each day and can even improve performance if they feel passionate about providing the best for a culture they love.
Those gatherings can take place during work hours as well, either as casual lunch outings, in-office milestone celebrations, or anything similar. Giving your team small windows at work to take their minds off the job and connect with their coworkers promotes a friendly work environment and shows that you care about your employees.
Don’t Give Special Treatment to Friends
A bad boss might take after-work functions as a chance to connect with one or two employees rather than creating a level playing for everyone. But arranging those gatherings and neglecting everyone but a handful of teammates is even worse than not having them at all. Employees may feel disrespected and form toxic feelings toward your work environment.
Favouritism is even worse when you allow it into the office, give the easiest, most beneficial projects and schedules to friends, and stick the tough jobs on everyone else. While you’ll help the handful of people you’ve connected with strengthen their work, you’ll also be holding the rest of the team back from reaching their full potential.
Recent studies revealed that three in every ten employees who quit their jobs leave because they felt disrespected, and favouritism is one of the most common types of unfair treatment.
Don’t Ignore Outside Ideas
Bad bosses believe they earned their position because they have the best plans and ideas and will shut down suggestions from their employees to stick to their vision. But even if you do have great ideas for the future, it’s vital to hear your team’s thoughts on the direction of your company.
Everyone on your team has a slightly different perspective, and each can offer a unique solution to problems you’ve never even considered. Even if you don’t go with their ideas, hearing them out and explaining your reasoning shows that you care about their opinions and are open to future suggestions.
10 Common Mistakes Leaders Make When Managing the Workplace
Our blog article will help you prepare on how to avoid the common mistakes leaders make in the workplace.
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