Every supervisor has his or her flaws, some more egregious than others. Here we look at a few of the most pervasive mistakes that bosses make, plus how to avoid them.
No boss is perfect, but some are less perfect than others. While it is impossible to satisfy every employee's needs throughout their career, certain types of managerial behavior are almost guaranteed to rub workers the wrong way. Whether it's seizing undeserved credit, imposing unrealistic workloads or simply failing to listen to employees' concerns, a pattern of bad management can lead to significant declines in performance and may even cost a supervisor his or her career. This makes it vital to promptly correct such mistakes or, better yet, avoid them in the first place.
"Few things incite a frothing, wild-eyed rage like asking people to talk about bad bosses. People aren't just annoyed by poor leadership — they sputter and snarl as they describe their superiors, lusting for the chance to hit that bad boss with a perfect, withering insult," CNN.com explains. "It's a little scary, then, to realize that we're all likely to occupy a leadership role, from motherhood to mogulhood, at some point in our lives. When we blow it, our imperfections will be magnified by our authority."
A surprising number of managers display archetypal forms of bad behavior. According to a Florida State University survey last month, many employees believe their superiors embody one of the seven deadly sins:
- Wrath — 26 percent said their boss has trouble managing anger;
- Greed — 27 percent said their boss pursues undeserved rewards;
- Sloth — 41 percent said their boss lazily pushes work onto others;
- Pride — 31 percent said their boss craves undeserved admiration;
- Lust — 33 percent said their boss needs to have his or her ego stroked every day;
- Envy — 19 percent said their boss is jealous of others' successes; and
- Gluttony — 23 percent said their boss hoards resources that could be useful to others at work.
"Employees with leaders who committed these 'sins' contributed less effort (40 percent less), felt overloaded as a result of forced responsibility for their supervisor's work (33 percent more), were less likely to make creative suggestions (66 percent less) and received fewer resources to effectively do their job (60 percent less) than those without this negative type of leadership," Christian Ponder, a research associate at Florida State's College of Business who worked on the survey, said.
While the most common faults seem to be obvious, it can be surprisingly difficult to recognize bad managerial qualities in oneself. Cultivating a sense of discernment to better spot negative employee reactions is an important skill that can distinguish a good boss from a mediocre one.
"The most crucial test of a boss is self-awareness. The best bosses are in tune with how the little things they say and do impact people, and they are adept at adjusting to bolster both performance and dignity," Bob Sutton, a professor in Stanford University's department of management science and engineering, notes at AMEX OPEN Forum. "Several studies, including one by the College Board, suggest that the more incompetent a boss is, the more out of touch he or she is likely to be."
There are several signals in the workplace that can point to bad tendencies in a manager. BNET lists some of the common signs of a managerial problem, including:
- Your team is underperforming. Bad management trickles down and eventually affects the rest of the organization, causing your workers' performance to deteriorate.
- Your own boss is putting on the pressure. When a senior manager notices a subordinate manager is having trouble, he or she might start paying a lot more attention to that person. If your supervisor turns on the heat, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your management style.
- Your allies start to drift away. When your work friends or supporters start distancing themselves from you, it's a strong signal that things are not going well for you at the company and others know it.
- Your employees are miserable. A group of consistently unhappy employees usually means a bad manager is in their lives. Pay attention to how your workers are doing to get a clear gauge of your own performance.
While there's no single measure that can turn someone into a good boss, recognizing negative behaviors and working to mend them can be a crucial step in rebuilding employees' confidence in your abilities and providing a better work environment for your colleagues.
"Who you are shows up most clearly in the relationships you form with others, especially those for whom you're responsible," Harvard Business Review explains. "It's easy to get those crucial relationships wrong. Effective managers possess the self-awareness and self-management required to get them right."
This means that spotting when you're engaged in one of the "deadly sins" of bad management and paying close attention to your workers' needs, your own boss's expectations and the way others treat you within the company are necessary stages in becoming a better manager.source