Bad Boss. You know one, you’ve had one, MAYBE YOU ARE ONE.

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Tenure, skills, and prior successes may lead to a managerial position, but it does not mean that it will produce good leadership. Any position of influence requires a delicate balance; managers have power, but not in ways you’d expect.

Bosses and managers are major catalysts for change … whether it’s positive or negative depends on the individual. According to managers, the number one reason an employee leaves a position is pay. But according to employees, it’s the manager – three out of four workers cite their boss as the worst & most stressful part of their job.

The Manager TO-DO List

Managerial responsibilities are not limited to the task list and the spreadsheet. Employee turnover, engagement, and productivity are all linked back to the manager:

  • 29% of employees with bad bosses report taking sick time when they are not ill, compared to only 9% of employees with good bosses
  • 50% of employees who don’t feel valued plan to look for another job within the next year
  • On average, poorly managed work groups are 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed groups

Maintaining employee relations along with daily work responsibilities is a difficult balance that takes practice. But before you dismiss yourself from this White Paper, know that 40% of workers report having a bad boss.

Ask yourself, do your daily actions in the workplace make life better for your employees, or just you?

The MICROculture

Poor management is not always your fault. Your organization may not get it right, or have the programs or resources to recruit and retain stellar talent, but you have the power to turn it around.

As the manager, know that you are responsible for your own MICRO-culture. Your team will stay devoted to you if you are committed to creating a space of appreciation, recognition, and empowerment.

According to Gallup, good managers motivate, demonstrate assertiveness, and build open relationships of trust and transparency. Appointing and being a “good manager” is much easier said than done, but there are practices that all “good bosses” have in common:

  • Keep your promises.

Psychological Contracts are the mutual expectations employees and managers have for one another, many go unsaid and most go beyond the paycheck. These psychological contracts have a major effect on employee perceptions of fairness. Discuss with your employees their expectations and have defined (even documented) expectations for one another. This will increase accountability for both sides and serve as a reference point if anything goes awry.

  • Give credit, and give it generously.

Inc., Forbes, and Quandora all report similar versions of what employees desire from their employers; but “feeling important/ valued” always comes out on top. Recognition and gratitude are simple ways to communicate value to your employees. But before you set a reminder on your calendar to thank your employees every Tuesday, remember that gratitude must be sincere, not a robotic gesture or an obligation..

  • Easy on the micromanaging.

Just like you know how to do your job, your employees (hopefully) know how to do theirs. Try your best not to knit pick or micromanage, while still giving guidance. If you’re worried about whether an employee will deliver, try saying something along the lines of: “Debbie, I am trusting you to complete this on time, because I know you are so punctual.” Debbie will accept the responsibility and feel empowered simultaneously. If your employees are unprepared for a project, it is your responsibility to get them the tools or training they need.

  • Share knowledge, share power.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, who would take over your position? An external hire takes time and money, and promoting the wrong person takes its toll on any business. Having a team that falls apart when you leave is not a testament to how great you were, it is statement of your failure to lead properly.  It is your responsibility to prepare your team to move forward with their careers, managerial or otherwise.

  • Know when to look in the mirror, and when to look through the window.

Leadership comes with plenty of responsibility, and self-awareness is key. Evaluate your leadership style and how you can improve as a leader (review instructions, communication style, follow up processes, etc.), but no self-deprecation. Encourage your employees to do the same, create a culture of accountability.


What next?

Being the boss is hard work … and thankless.  It may be difficult to determine how to improve in your management skills.  One of the best starting points is to sit down one-on-one with each of your direct reports and say “I want to be a better manager.  Will you give me some honest feedback on what I can do to make our team even better?”  Prepare yourself to simply listen.  Don’t get defensive.  Just take it all in.  If you’ve never asked for this kind of feedback, your department will be taken aback at first, but they will certainly be impressed, especially if you demonstrate sincerity in wanting to improve and trusting them to provide you with the feedback to do just that.

In the end, you are a human, guiding other humans through an unpredictable, high stakes obstacle course: it’s difficult, and you will make mistakes. But you can improve; even managers heralded as “the best boss ever” continually strive to get better and grow with their team.  Just like everyone remembers that boss they hated, they just as easily remember the boss they loved. Create a legacy for helping others, developing talent, and ultimately accomplishing impressive business results.