Hate’s a strong word, perhaps excessively harsh, but for many employees it’s a genuine emotion they feel towards their boss. Going to work is torture, not because they dislike their job or their organisation, but because they detest their manager. And their manager, to make matters worse, is oblivious.
So how can you tell your employees are allergic to your management style?
There are obvious markers such as high staff turnover, absenteeism, conflict and poor performance. If those are widespread within your team, you should be examining the degree to which you’re contributing to the problem. But often that realisation is too little too late. Here, then, are seven subtle signs your employees would rather be managed by anyone other than you.
They don’t share information. Of priority to your employees is their protection. This means they withhold information because they fear you’ll either shoot the messenger or react irrationally. This applies to you if you find yourself thinking or saying at work: “Why didn’t anyone tell me this earlier?”
You don’t receive any compliments. The thing about positive feedback is that it isn’t always just about the manager providing it to employees. The best managers often have grateful workers – without any hint of sucking up – letting them know they’re inspirational and valued.
They’re out the door by 5.00pm. Or whatever time they’re supposed to finish and not a minute later. Ten minutes before the end, they’re already packing up. And, if you look carefully, they’re winding down even when there’s thirty minutes to go.
They avoid eye contact. When having co
nversations with employees, they’re reticent to look at you directly. They appear nervous and fidgety. This could be because you’re intimidating, or maybe you’re yet to build a relationship with them, which means there’s still an element of discomfort and mistrust.
You’re not invited to social events. Everyone heads out for a drink after work, or perhaps even just a team lunch, without extending an invitation to you. Why? Because, if you were there, it’d be difficult to talk about you behind your back.
You think you’re flawless. The most talented managers – those with plenty of evidence to back up their smarts – are nonetheless humble enough to know there’s always more to learn. So they frequently seek feedback and devour books and courses in an attempt to constantly improve. If you can’t see gaps in your management repertoire, hubris is probably blocking your vision.
No one’s asked you to be their mentor. Brilliant managers, by default, have people eagerly wanting to learn from them. Their challenge is one of turning mentees away. If your challenge is the opposite, and no one’s really expressed a desire to be mentored by you, it’s a good idea to explore why that’s the case.
Just one of the above signs is not enough to indicate you’re the problem. If several are present, however, chances are you’re the issue.
Anyway, you might be thinking, “so what?”, which is a fair question to ask, albeit an obliquitous one. Who cares if employees hate you? All that matters is that they get the job done, right? ‘Management is not a popularity contest’ is a refrain heard all the time.
In a sense, that cliché is correct. There’ll be times when you’ll have difficult conversations or you’ll communicate bad news of a type that will inevitably piss people off. And yet there’s a plethora of research demonstrating the greater performance and loyalty demonstrated by employees when they perceive their manager as charismatic, humorous, likeable, and emotionally intelligent.
So, clearly, to a certain extent it’s important to be popular. Which is why it’s wise to pay attention to the signs you’re anything but.
Do your employees hate you? Do you care?
This article first appeared on Brisbane Times on 22 August 2014.