If you ask anyone about the worst boss they ever had or the most annoying trait they ever experienced in a boss, you will likely get a laundry list of responses and many of them are universally shared by just about any person who has ever worked anywhere.
As leaders, it’s not just informative to dive into some of these common responses to learn more about “what not to do” but it is imperative to have the emotional intelligence to not fall into any of these character traits.
Below is a list of seven pet peeves that employees have when it comes to their boss or manager:
Almost nothing is worse than feeling like you are working harder than your boss. When a leader consistently is late, spends all day on social media or their phone, takes more personal calls than professional, is slow to respond, frequently takes long lunches, and often leaves early – it makes it hard to stay inspired about the company mission.
Character and integrity is a crucial component for managers to exhibit especially when they think no one is watching. Managers should hold each other accountable for failing to follow the same rules and regulations their employees are subject to. Managers should absolutely not be in a management or leadership role if they cannot manage themselves, especially their time and behavior.
Working with a boss who flies off the handle and expresses displeasure or disappointment by yelling or publicly reprimanding is stressful and leads to anxiety, burnout, and hostile work environments.
Managers need the emotional intelligence to know how to self-regulate their emotions and behavioral responses to stress. One technique to keep in your back pocket if you’re in a leadership position is to put yourself in the shoes of your employee. Find out why they said, did, or didn’t do what they should have done. Understanding the rationale may give you insight to a solution and even a reason that may be your fault so you can take responsibility and amend.
Another tool is to assess if you’re Hungry, Angry, or Tired.
Hungry: A lot of conflict can be avoided simply by taking a break to eat a snack or a meal, especially if you’re a workaholic who skips breakfast and works through lunch. It helps to keep the office equipped with snacks so you don’t even have to go far to take a break.
Angry: Take a break and walk away to breathe and think about what is at the core of your emotional response. What specifically are you angry about? Have you participated in the situation that is making you angry? Have some self-awareness in your involvement. Remember – there are usually three sides to a story: What he said, what she said, and what really happened.
Tired: When you’re fatigued, your ability to regulate your emotions is hindered – so be aware of your energy level. Maybe table addressing a problem for another time when you’re less exhausted and able to see a situation from all sides as well as see a solution to an issue that doesn’t involve a heavy emotional response.
3) Taking credit for someone else’s work
It can be tempting to take the credit for the work of your team especially if you’ve laid out the game plan and coached them to get there, but it’s never a good idea to be so egocentric as to fall victim to such narcissism. It’s a team effort and when you celebrate your team, they will be ready to get to the finish line for your organization again and again with focus, drive, and determination.
A good leader will always look for opportunities to shine the spotlight on the accomplishments of their team members. Managers should always recognize employees by name for their contributions to a project, achievement, and improved process or procedure.
4) Never asking about employees’ personal lives
It’s important to have boundaries, but knowing when to take time to get to know your team as people instead of simply employees shows that you care. Of course it’s only effective if it’s sincere. Your sincere care and concern for their lives outside of the office builds trust and loyalty.
If someone experiences a death in the family, send condolences – maybe even send flowers. Even if the death was an animal! Pets are family members too and owners often experience just as much if not more grief after the loss of their fur baby than a human family member or friend. Consider sending a gift basket or donation to a charity in honor of the deceased.
If someone or their spouse is having a baby, albeit a pregnancy, adoption, or surrogacy, or maybe they’re fostering a child or children, consider gifting them items they may need. If someone is getting married, do the same.
Have an internal policy with your managers to identify these milestones and make it a collective responsibility to keep note and respond to these life events for everyone – not just some team members. Don’t play favorites.
Keep an ear on the heartbeat of your organization and be human with them. Make your business personal.
5) Failing to provide clear direction
When job duties and requirements are constantly changing and inconsistent, you are setting your team up for failure. Clearly defining requirements allows employees to succeed.
Make sure you have policies and procedures written down, reviewed, and put into action to ensure they make sense. Have your team members involved in this process to give them a sense of ownership.
Managers who micromanage believe they have to act this way because otherwise work won’t get done. They are operating out of a sense of fear and lack of self control.
But when your boss is a micromanager it creates incredible tension and stress in the workplace. It can lead to a hostile work environment and high turnover.
Team members need to feel trusted and when you micromanage you are essentially telling them that you don’t trust them to do their job. If someone needs training, you need to set time aside to train them rather than metaphorically whipping them all day long while they work.
You want your employees to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Micro-managing makes it impossible for an employee to feel good about anything they’re doing because everything they do is wrong and not good enough.
A boss that constantly complains about their job, other people’s performance, the company itself will bring down the morale of the whole team. This negativity will spread and create a difficult work environment for everyone. A good leader inspires positivity and optimism in their team members.
A good leader understands how their behavior, attitude and personal traits can impact the organization and will work to combat any characteristics that may hurt team productivity. Rather than expecting employees to adapt to their personality, good leaders will strive to hold themselves and others in leadership accountable for toxic behaviors and destructive words.