08 April 2014

Am I a bad boss?

If you manage staff, how can you tell if you're a good or a bad boss? Here are our suggestions, along with how to improve your management skills.

Whether you’ve worked your way up to a management position or you’ve started a business and taken on staff, chances are you haven’t had much, if any, training in people management. So how do you know if you’re a good or a bad manager?

Don’t expect your staff to tell you. While many people have experience of being supervised poorly, only a small percentage would actually tell their boss what they think of their management abilities. When it gets too much to bear, most employees will just look for another job elsewhere. 

Be honest with yourself and review how you treat others - can you identify with any of the following signs?

Signs you’re a bad boss

  1. You’re a confidence crusher. Do you find yourself talking over your staff or cutting them off mid-sentence, ignoring their suggestions or criticising them a lot? Even worse, have you taken credit for their work or played them off one another?
  2. You delegate everything. Do you think it’s ok to make your staff do all of your work while you get all the credit? The staff you line manage are there to support the objectives of your team or business; not to do your work for you.  
  3. You micromanage everything. Conversely, maybe you don’t want to lose control of tasks or think that you can do it better. Is your time being consumed by checking your team’s work? Or perhaps you just do the work yourself because it would take too long to explain how to do it?
  4. You don’t listen. You pretend to listen to your team, but think their suggestions are flawed or that all they do is complain.
  5. Your staff aren’t happy. Do they stop talking when you walk into the room or look unhappy most of the time? Your staff may not always be cheerful, but if the atmosphere seems to nosedive as soon as you enter, the problem is probably to do with you.
  6. You’re trying to be their friend, not their manager. While some managers can be too demanding, others can let their staff walk all over them for fear of not being liked. This isn’t good for your self-confidence or your team’s productivity in the long run.
  7. You’re never wrong. When things don’t work out, is there always someone else to blame? Just because you manage staff, doesn’t mean that you’re always right and they’re always wrong.  

How to become a better manager

The skills needed to be an entrepreneur and manage people are very different, but to make your business a real success, you need to be able to look after and motivate your workforce. And just because you’re a people person, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a good manager.

No one intends to be a terrible boss, but it’s easy to develop bad habits or get carried away with their new-found authority. Often our management styles are determined by how we have been managed, but just because you’ve had domineering bosses, doesn’t mean you need to become one. Take a step back and think about the managers you have had in the past. What can you learn from each style of management to improve your own relationship with your staff?

  1. Reward good work. Take time to compliment individuals for doing a job well, whether it’s admin or leading on a large project. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the hardest working members of your team are the ones who arrive first in the office and leave last at night. Make sure you look at the productivity of each person and give praise where it’s due.
  2. Take a flexible approach. Allowing your team to work flexible hours or to work from home generally boosts staff morale and staff productivity, which in turn will benefit your business. Rather than seeing flexibility as a gift you are giving to your employees, see it as something that could help your organisation achieve more.
  3. Trust in your staff. Don’t hover over your staff, watching their every move, as this creates uneasiness. Make sure all your employees understand exactly what is expected of them and then step back and allow them to meet those expectations. You hired them for their knowledge and experience, so let them use it. Only step in when you suspect someone needs extra support or is not making the effort.
  4. Lead by example. You need to be the role model. If you want them to be hard working and loyal, those are the qualities you need to display.  You can’t expect your staff to be punctual if you aren’t.
  5. Treat everyone as individuals. Be fair and treat everyone equally, but don’t forget that different individuals will respond in different ways. By getting to know your staff, you’ll know the best way to motivate and develop them.