I've coached and trained many bosses over the years and I've frequently noticed that many of them do their best to lead well but don't truly understand the impact of their actions or how they might adjust their leadership approach to get better results. A large percentage lead in a way that reflects what they experienced in their families or picked up along the way from other reactive bosses. Here are ten things bosses do, mostly unconsciously, to make things more difficult for their employees.
1. Lack of Consistency
These bosses say one thing and do another, change the rules midstream and treat some employees differently from others. This creates a work atmosphere where employees don't know what to expect and are sometimes required to change their approaches midstream even when everything is going well.
2. Limited Self-Awareness
This type of boss talks a lot about how insightful and in touch with his leadership style she is but it's not reflected in what she does in the workplace. What you'll often observe is someone who routinely destroys things in her path but doesn't seem to have a clue that she's causing the chaos.
3. Losing Their Temper Unpredictably
They get angry at people or exasperated easily; sometimes over trivial or arbitrary events. This makes everyone's job more difficult because they have to avoid the boss' wrath instead of communicating and participating openly in the workplace.
4. Don't Explain Things Clearly
These bosses lack the ability to explain processes and procedures, which is really just a basic lack of understanding of how to communicate effectively. They expect everyone to understand their garbled communication style and get upset when employees don't. They rarely ask their employees if they're explaining clearly or if they understand.
5. Don't Apply the Same Rules to Themselves
They enforce different rules for different people. For example, they ask people to get to work on time but don't do it themselves. When bosses have more leeway or don't follow the same stringent standards that "regular" employees do, it sends an unambiguous message that some employees are more important than others.
6. Micromanage and Don't Delegate Effectively
This boss doesn't trust her employees to do their own work unattended. She feels she has to supervise every part of the operation even when it makes things run less smoothly. This person also has difficulty letting other people work independently because she doesn't want to let go of the power and control.
7. Don't Encourage Employees to Use Their Talents
These bosses are so wrapped up in their own needs and reacting to every event in the workplace that they fail to recognize that their employees have valuable talents that could make their workplace run even better. Instead, they label their employees and tell them to stick to their job descriptions.
8. Lack of Organization
These bosses are simply overwhelmed by their job and are hanging on for dear life. They make things more difficult for everyone by not prioritizing tasks, creating timelines and setting clear expectations. This leads to them constantly being in crisis mode trying to fix something they've overlooked.
9. Look for Ways to Trip People Up
These bosses don't celebrate the things their employees are doing well; they obsess on what's going wrong. They'll even go as far as setting people up for failure by asking them to do things that are outside their area of expertise or where they lack training and then say, "I told you so," or "It's not as easy as it looks."
10. Expect Employees to Prove Themselves
This type of boss believes that employees are constantly trying to take advantage of her and the organization and requires them to constantly prove their worth. She'll often double-check the work employees do "just to make sure" it's done correctly. She'll also say things like, "You're suspect until proven otherwise," or "Trust is earned."
Take a moment to think about whether you do any of these things and how your actions might affect the functioning of your workplace. If you recognize yourself in any of these examples you might find it helpful to try new ways of doing things to achieve better results. The goal isn't to make things more difficult but rather to make things easier for everyone in your workplace. What will you do to help your employees succeed?