If, as you storm through the office, instilling fear in the eyes of your staff, you're congratulating yourself on being an excellent boss, it's time to re-evaluate your opinion of yourself. If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, it's time for some serious leadership training.
1. Do you command your employees? Taking a drill sergeant attitude with your staff only alienates them from you. Remember: being a boss isn't a power play; your job is to facilitate better communication and help your team do a better job. You won't make them want to work harder if you're barking orders.
2. Is your open door policy a farce? If, despite you insisting that your door is always open to the employee who needs to chat, you invisibly push people away from coming to you with real issues with your terse and tense attitude, you're not doing anyone any favors. A well-run office builds its foundation on communication, and if you're not the one encouraging dialogue, your team can't move forward successfully.
3. Do you micromanage? Even if you don't see it this way, constantly following up with each and every employee to make sure he does his job correctly is plain insulting. After all, your staff was hired because they were competent at a certain skill set. With you checking up on their work, they won't feel any compulsion to do their best; after all, you're only going to criticize it.
4. Are you stingy with the compliments? Giving the old "atta boy" doesn't come easy to all managers, and that's fine. But realize the benefits of occasionally letting your employees know they're doing well and that you've taken notice: they'll be more inclined to continue doing great things, hoping you'll notice.
5. Are you wishy-washy? Do you hate conflict? Do you say whatever it takes to get someone out of your hair, but then never follow through to amend a bad situation? Your staff won't respect you if you're not standing up for them, and they'll choose their own leader, manager or otherwise.
6. Do you tend to block visibility for executives? If you tend to wave your hands when your boss ask how things are going in your department and say, "I've got it," you're missing out on an opportunity to be the link between executives and your department. That connection can help your department get recognized for great work, as well as get support when things get out of hand. But you have to be honest when you're in over your head.
7. Does your staff drag in to work in the morning? You can't take all the credit for this, but if they dread coming in to work because of your iron fist, it's time to soften up. Unhappy employees are ones that will leave for a better opportunity, so it's to your benefit to keep them happy.
8. Do you hand off your assignments to your peons? If you constantly shirk your duties and pass them off to your employees, you're probably not long for your position. Never curry favors by giving assignments that you should be handling yourself.
9. Do you like your job? If you're unhappy in your role as manager, how can you expect the people who work for you to be happy? If you're letting your dissatisfaction with your job show, it's affecting your team's morale. Find a solution. Either find another job or button up your feelings and boost the spirits of your staff.
If any of these questions ring true, it's time to re-evaluate your management skills. Find ways to be a better communicator, and lighten up if you're scaring the staff.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.
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