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Signs you’re a terrible boss

September 19, 2014
POSTED BY: Michelle Reines | PeopleFirst leadership Consultant and Coach for Zoetis

The recent Labor Day holiday is a great reminder to celebrate your employees and the important contribution they make to your operation. But are your employees celebrating you every day? The top reason employees either become engaged, or disengaged, in their work is directly related to their relationship with their supervisor.1

Signs you’re a terrible boss

Your team might be telling you that you’re a terrible boss without actually saying it. If you see any of the following warning signs, this means your team is becoming — or might already be — disengaged:

  • An escalation in peer-to-peer conflict. Employees might vocalize these frustrations or you might observe visual signs, such as growing impatience with one another.
  • An upturn in mistakes. As team members disengage, their eye for detail starts to falter.
  • An increase in absenteeism, tardiness or workers’ compensation claims.
  • Blaming others for mistakes, challenges or problems versus working collaboratively to resolve issues as a team.
  • Not staying late, even if there is work to do. They become “clock watchers” and may always have an excuse for why they can’t put in the extra time.
  • Acting fearful, stressed out or overly emotional.

Tips for becoming a better boss

Be aware of how your leadership may impact the work environment. Use this checklist to help build a more engaged, productive team on the dairy. By ensuring employees are happy, appreciated, recognized, developed and held respectfully accountable, you’ll cultivate an environment where success can not only survive but thrive.

  • Observe how others respond to you. Pay attention to other people’s body language (hand and facial gestures and eye contact) and how it influences how you feel. Then, focus on becoming more self-aware of your own body language.
  • Make sure people are in the right role. Take a look at each employee and make sure his or her role maximizes strengths, minimizes weaknesses and complements natural behavioral tendencies.
  • Listen to your employees. Make sure you are listening to how your employees are communicating. If you hear an employee using a sharp or defensive tone, this should be a warning sign.
  • Engage with employees for all reasons. Are you engaging with employees only when you deliver corrective or critical feedback? As a result, employees won’t speak up, contribute ideas or take healthy risks for fear of being reprimanded. Fear of the boss blocks engagement and creates a stressed or negative work environment.
  • Invite collaboration. It fosters commitment and promotes an ownership mentality. Without a collaborative environment, employees stay just for the paycheck or ultimately leave the dairy for another job.
  • Clearly communicate goals to inspire employees toward an achievable, common outcome. It creates an environment where people feel valued and feel their contributions are making a positive difference.

As the boss improves, so can the team. I’m sure you can remember how demotivating it can be when you work for a terrible boss. What about for a great boss? Do you remember how each type of boss made you feel? What lessons can you take away from both experiences that will make you a better leader? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

1 Sysco Foods. Engagement Study, 2008.


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