Can't manage: 8 signs you're a bad boss

8 signs you're a bad boss

If you aspire to be the boss or are one, it's worth thinking about the qualities you need to do the job well

These individuals are the glue that holds the workforce together, ensuring employees perform to the best of their ability for the benefit of the organisation. But there are also managers at the other end of the spectrum. They are the hapless flappers, the deluded self-promoters and the power-crazy autocrats of the workplace. Far too often, organisations promote staff to a rank and status beyond their level of ability.

If you aspire to be the boss or are one, it's worth thinking about the attributes and qualities needed to do the job well. What kind of leader are you? You want to be someone who is respected by your employer, team members and fellow managers, not somebody who is ridiculed for your incompetence. If you are a bad boss, then management can be a very lonely place.

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First and foremost, you need to avoid the common business management and leadership mistakes. Here are our 8 signs that you're a bad boss:

1. Inability to communicate

If you can't communicate effectively with your staff, you can't be the boss. It's as simple as that really. You need to be comfortable addressing people on a one-on-one basis, and as part of a group. Unless you're suitably assured as a speaker, employees won't have full confidence in you - and this means they'll be less likely to take instruction and go that extra mile to help you out.

To avoid being a bad boss, be sensitive when dealing with personal matters. As the boss, you are the first port of call for employees who have problems - whether at work or at home. You need to be empathetic and understanding, and be able to provide support to individuals who are experiencing a difficult time.

2. 'Cloak and dagger'

When you're the boss, there will be some information you cannot share with other staff members. But if you are seen to hide too much behind a veil of secrecy, it will be difficult for team members to trust and respect you.

Where possible, keep people informed as to what is going on - both within your team and the organisation as a whole. Employees will appreciate the transparency, and this will also reduce the likelihood of damaging rumours spreading.

3. Same situation, different decision

Inconsistent decision making is a sign of a bad boss. If you respond in a different way whenever the same situation arises - according to your mood, or simply a whim - employees will struggle to take you seriously. They want to be treated the same, and see that there is some sense of structure to your management. You should have set policies and processes in place which you stick to, to ensure fair treatment. Of course, if a particular action produces a negative result, change it - but at least explain to your team members why you have done so.

4. Take the credit, pass the buck

A classic sign of a bad boss is someone who takes the credit when things go well for their team, but deflects criticism onto others when results are not so positive. When you're in charge of a team, you have to take the rough with the smooth. You are ultimately responsible for the performance - individual and collective - of the people working under you, so there can be no passing the buck.

If you try to claim the glory when one of your team members makes a valuable contribution, you'll quickly find yourself on shaky ground. Employees will view you as a 'snake in the grass', knowing what sort of contribution you made to the task. And this may have a negative impact on your workplace relationships going forward.

5. Penchant for micro-management

If you give an employee a job, and they have the necessary skills and resources to perform, then let them get on with it. There's nothing worse than a bad boss who watches over employees all day, scrutinising each move they make while barking constant instructions.

You have to give employees some autonomy in the workplace, in order to get the best out of them. If you're not confident in their ability to do the job to the required standard, then give the work to someone else, be a macro-manager rather than a micro-manager. Better still, don't hire them in the first place.

6. Make unreasonable requests

To avoid being a bad boss, set realistic terms of what you expect employees to do. You can't order workers to come in to the office early and stay late, and work through their lunch hour. Nor can you cancel their annual leave at short notice - it will almost inevitably sour relations, making it more difficult to maximise productivity going forwards. As the boss, you can't ask employees to do anything you wouldn't have been prepared to do yourself, in the same situation.

7. Love the limelight

You may think employees love your showmanship in the office, enjoy your quirky emails about irrelevant topics, and look forward to your bad jokes. But the chances are, they don't - nobody respects a fool. There is a fine line between generating a positive workplace environment and being irritant - and it takes a degree of self-awareness to stay on the right side.

8. Pick your favourites

A bad boss has a penchant for favouritism, even nepotism at times, and treat team members differently in the workplace. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to undermine your own authority. Come what may, you must be seen to treat everybody as equal, and give them fair opportunity to do their best in the workplace. Inevitably, there will be some employees you prefer to others, but your job is to manage them effectively, not make friends.

This article originally appeared as Can't manage: 8 signs you're a bad boss on the UK Robert Half blog.

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