7 obnoxious boss habits that make life harder for your employees

Daily Briefing

7 obnoxious boss habits that make life harder for your employees

As a leader, you might not always be attuned to how your behaviors affect employees. In fact, research has found that one in three leaders have a fatal flaw they aren’t aware of.

The EAB Daily Briefing team reviewed the leadership research in our archives to identify common boss habits that disengage and frustrate employees. Here are several of the most obnoxious boss habits and how to avoid them.

Habit 1: You don’t tell it like it is

A lack of transparency in the workplace damages productivity, Ivelices Thomas, the chief executive of HR & Beyond, wrote for Forbes in 2018. Bosses will often keep employees in the dark during high-stress situations. But rather than protecting employees, this lack of honest communication generates mistrust.

Instead, tell it like it is. Communicate openly with your team and trust that they will have meaningful contributions to whatever situation you are facing. “When employees aren’t connected to a clear vision of where they are going and what they need to contribute to get there, they will lack purpose in their work,” Thomas argues.

Habit 2: You micromanage

Micromanaging is one of the 10 boss habits most likely to lead employees to quit, according to a survey by BambooHR. But many leaders don’t realize when they’re micromanaging, says Caterina Kostoula, an executive coach and former global business leader at Google.

Stress is often the biggest reason leaders micromanage, explains Kostoula. Leaders who want to break their micromanaging habit should reflect on how stress affects their management style, she suggests. She encourages leaders to:

– Think about the underlying fears that may be driving you to micromanage, then address them with an executive coach or by making changes in your work process; and- Focus on the big picture of the team’s mission and give your team more flexibility about how they achieve those goals, so long as they hit them somehow.

Habit 3: You set a bad work-life balance example

Even if your organization prioritizes work-life balance, employees will usually follow in their direct managers’ footsteps when it comes to working after hours or while on vacation.

Employers need to establish boundaries about working hours right off the bat, says Joyce Maroney, the director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. “If a manager is sending emails on a regular basis after hours, employees will feel pressured to do so, too,” says Maroney. “Conversely, if a manager treats a day off truly as a day off by unplugging and trusting their coworkers to step up in their absence, their employee will be much more likely to do so, too”

Habit 4: You don’t respect your team’s time

Occasionally rescheduling a meeting is reasonable, but constantly making changes to the calendar or simply not showing up for scheduled meetings sends a message that you don’t value your team’s time, argues Thomas.

Thomas recommends only calling meetings when necessary; you will be less likely to forget or miss a meeting if it is truly needed. And if you must reschedule a meeting, Thomas recommends doing so with plenty of notice to create the least amount of disruption possible.

Habit 6: You take credit for their work

Employees want to be recognized for their accomplishments. Taking credit for things they worked hard on can alienate them and make them feel cheated.

Provide recognition instead. It could be as easy as saying “thank you” or explaining why you’re grateful for their work.

Habit 5: You ignore criticism

When criticism uncovers our blind spots, it can feel jarring. Your first instinct may be to respond with anger or defensiveness. But when we shut down feedback, we miss out on a valuable opportunity to improve ourselves, argues executive coach Peter Bregman for the Harvard Business Review.

Instead of responding to criticism with deflection or denial, Bregman says you should this simple response: “I really appreciate you taking the time and the effort to tell me. Thank you.” This response communicates that you’re open to feedback and that you take employees’ observations seriously.

Habit 7: You jump to conclusions

It can be tempting to try to solve a problem before you fully understand what the problem is. Thomas explains that bosses often jump to conclusions or make assumptions about an issue before taking the time to listen to employees and gather their insights and recommendations.

To be a more effective leader, Thomas suggests asking several questions and practicing active listening to truly understand the situation before making any suggestions about a course of action.

(Thomas, Forbes, 3/19/2018; Bregman, Harvard Business Review, 2/14; Moran, Fast Company, 2/10/17; Kostoula, Fast Company, 10/16/2017)

Read more to see common leadership mistakes

1 in 3 leaders have a fatal flaw they aren’t aware of. What’s yours?

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13 ways you’re ignoring negative feedback

The 5 worst boss habits, ranked

Most leaders have 1 of these 3 career-derailing blind spots

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