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6 behaviors that drive employees crazy – and how not to be THAT boss



Even the best managers can drive employees crazy sometimes.

But do you know what you do that has employees complaining? Probably not.

That’s because their gripes are your blind spots.

24% drive employees crazy

Nearly one in four of employees say they work right now for the worst boss they’ve ever had, according to research from Perceptyx. What’s the problem these days? Among other things, employees don’t like hearing from the boss at all hours. And they don’t like following leaders who they deem unsupportive and incompetent.

But these are the annoying daily behaviors that most often drive employees crazy, plus ways to avoid or overcome them:

1. Pointing at the mistake

Some managers never seem to focus on what’s done well or correctly. “Instead, their first comments call attention to the inconsequential mistake,” says Dianna Booher, a communication strategist and president of Booher Research.

Tip: Focus on what’s right – at first. Suggest must-do improvements after a victory has sunk in. Don’t give a compliment, then start the next sentence with “But.” What follows “but” negates the positive feedback.

2. Holding on

Sometimes, managers don’t know when to let go – or don’t want to let go. They assign work and lead employees through it anyway.

Tip: Assign a project, emphasize the goal, give the resources to get it done, offer warnings and safeguards on what could go wrong, require check-ins – and get out of the way. If employees are trained and encouraged, they’ll get it done. Or they’ll learn from setbacks.

3. Maintaining all control

Managers who want to maintain control might subtly remind employees that they’re the smartest person in the room. They talk a lot, listen much less and share a lot of war stories.

Tip: Hire smart people who can help the company grow and teams succeed. Get employees regular training so they’re equipped to contribute on a deeper level. Then listen to and use the ideas they’ve gained from training and experience.

4. Getting emotional

While it’s important to acknowledge ups and downs, managers don’t want to wear emotions on their sleeves. Employees don’t know what to expect – and will steer clear – of managers who are angry and withdrawn when things are bad, and generous and pleasant only when things are good.

Tip: Acknowledge emotions, but don’t let them change the way you manage and relate to employees. Tell them when you’re happy, excited, frustrated or disappointed. Then continue to act professionally.

5. Changing on a dime

Emergencies happen. So on a few occasions, managers have to change plans at the last minute. But employees can’t stand it when the boss often changes or cancels meetings or events. It sends the message that the manager’s schedule is important, but the employees’ isn’t. Even worse, productivity and morale will crumble as people reshuffle their schedules because of last-minute changes.

Tip: Include time each day to put out fires or handle unexpected meetings. Then you won’t have to cancel something to take care of them.

6. Being distant

Giving employees the tools to work independently is a powerful management approach. But sometimes managers believe autonomy is the end-all, and their hands-off approach leaves employees feeling ignored.

Tip: Stay involved. Ask employees how they feel about their work and progress to open up conversations, rather than just ask what they’re doing to get the job done.

Good boss=supportive

Here’s the good news. Every manager can become a better boss by adopting some favorite boss behaviors.

The Perceptyx study identified those as: professional, trustworthy and caring.

“The words that we see cited most often – supportive, trustworthy, and caring, as well as their opposites when we ask about bad bosses – show that people want to be able to connect with managers as humans rather than the relationship being transactional,” says Emily Killham, Director of Research & Insight at Perceptyx. “Managers should make sure employees feel supported with reliable, timely, and complete communication – particularly when an employee asks for feedback.”

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