With great power comes great responsibility. We all love being in control of those who work with us, but it’s easy to get so drunk on power, we forget that our first duty is to those whom we lead. In the workplace, the boss can be a source of motivation, guidance and the catalyst that pushes his team to do the best they possibly could, but several times, we’ve seen bosses who are a constant source of frustration and discouragement to their subordinates.
One important measure of a leader’s success is how well he can get his followers to follow him. If your subordinates at work always have problems taking direction from you, search yourself – you just might be the problem. Do some self-examination with these questions to know if you’re a bad boss. Answer honestly and if you are, make the necessary changes to yourself for the benefit of your team and you.
- You motivate with fear: employees need some form of motivation to do their best at work, but a boss whose primary means of motivating employees is with threats of firing or suspending them has no business being a boss in the first place. A boss should seek to motivate workers through positive means like constructive criticism and rewards for stellar performances. Motivating through means such as these will boost the morale of employees in the workplace. Motivating with fear might just make you a bad boss.
- You make employees work hard for little compensation: Compensation for work should be based on the performance and quality of work done by employees. If your employees are creating more value or putting in more effort than they are being paid for, then you need to re-evaluate how much you pay workers and the rules deciding the stipend they receive as regards the work they put in. Employees should not be underpaid and be given the respect they deserve if they are to continue putting in their best efforts. A bad boss would like to pay as little as possible while demanding the best efforts from his/her workforce. They justify their actions to themselves by saying there are others out there willing to do the same work for less pay.
- You never admit you’re wrong: Admitting you’re wrong when you know you are is one way to keep a conducive work environment. Refusal to admit wrongs due to pride or fear of being seen as inadequate by your employees only reduces their respect for you. A study showed that 91% of employees have better job satisfaction when their bosses own up to mistakes they’ve made. Admitting to mistakes only goes to show your employees that the workplace is a safe place to take smart risks.
- You don’t deliver on promises: A boss who makes promises he won’t keep is simply untrustworthy. As a boss, if you promise promotions, a raise or increase in responsibility to your workers and can’t keep your word, it will only make them trust you less and less. Only make promises you are sure to keep if you want to keep your subordinates loyal. A bad boss uses empty promises to motivate workers, dangling a promotion or raise in front of them to get them to work more hours and handle more responsibility.
- You’re quick to blame, but slow to show gratitude: When good work is appreciated, it encourages even more good works. If as a boss, you are quick to point out the shortcomings of your workers, but only grudgingly acknowledge the good work they do, performances will drop across the board. Call out erring workers privately, but praise their good work in public.
- You don’t care for feedback: If you always feel that as the boss, you have enough experience and skill to make decisions autonomously, without input or suggestions from your team, then this suggests you’re not a good boss. Though you may have acquired enough experience and have the required skills to be at the head, it doesn’t mean you are always right. Seek suggestions and advice from your team, especially if you employed certain people because of the specific skill set they have. Ask for feedback from your workers for the sake of the project at hand. The success of a team is also the success of its leader.
- You always request that employees work on days off: as a boss or owner of a business, you could work all week long without issue, but requesting that your employees work on weekends, holidays and days off is wrong. Employees need a clear distinction between work and their personal lives to perform at their best.
- You take credit for other peoples’ work: You may think that your subordinates work for you anyway, and whatever ideas they have are yours, but this singular trait probably breeds the most disrespect among workers. Give recognition to whom it is due and your workers will love you the more for it.
- Your workers’ efforts are never good enough: If you’re the type of boss that likes to demand more from your workers, even when they’re obviously operating at their maximum and doing the best they possibly could, you need to turn your demands down a notch. Constantly bombarding workers with requests even when they can’t handle any more is a sure way of reducing employee productivity. Understand that there’s a limited number of hours in a day and your employees can only do so much effectively at any given time.
- You don’t allow your workers to grow: Every job in your career should have some things they made you better at. If you force your employees to stagnate in their careers out of fear of them advancing above you, they won’t last long. Encourage your subordinates to grow and they will be forever grateful to you for it.
Note that having anyone of these listed traits doesn’t make you a bad boss, but if you find you have a majority of them, it may be time to do some honest soul-searching for the benefit of not just your workers, but the entire establishment.