5 Ways To Tell You’re Being A Lousy Manager, And Turn That Around In One Day
Kathy Caprino Forbes Senior Contributor
We all know that there are many different kinds of managers and leaders. Some are empowering and thrilling to work for and grow under, and some are terrible despots who make our lives miserable. And others are somewhere in between.
I’ve been a manager and supervisor of staff, employees and contractors for many years of my career, first throughout my 18 years in corporate life, then later in my own business. I’ve had some very positive experiences as a manager and leader. But I’ve also made some big mistakes and missteps over the years – some so upsetting that I was ashamed afterwards of how I behaved and knew that my actions were anything but positive and empowering. For me, remembering those experiences of being a bad boss are hard, even now, to recall.
It’s important to realize that we can exhibit poor managerial behavior even if we’re seasoned and mature professionals when we ought to know better.
In my coaching work with emerging and high-level leaders, many have told me that their struggles in serving as effective leaders often keep them up at night.
How can you tell if you’re being a lousy manager or leader? Here are 5 hallmarks:
#1: You micromanage incessantly
We’ve all had moments when we “get all up” in the work and tasks of our employees, more than we should, because we’re working on something very important or time sensitive, perhaps, or when the outcome of the project has significant impact. But if you micromanage incessantly, and just can’t get out of the way of your employees so they can do their best work, you’re failing yourself and them. And they’ll hate working for you. Truly talented, accomplished professionals won’t stand for it.
#2: You bully
Nothing’s worse than an abusive bully for a boss. We’ve all had one (or most of us have, anyway). And we all know how destructive and demoralizing it is to work for someone who needs to tear you down so they can feel better about themselves. If you act in in bullying manner, you need to seek outside help immediately to understand why you’re drawn to engaging in abusive behavior (often this behavior stems from pain and trauma from childhood that needs to be healed), and to get support to reverse that behavior.
#3: You’re a “perfectionist overfunctioner”
The fear of letting go, and the resistance to delegating appropriately and letting others do work that is theirs to do is what I call “perfectionistic overfunctioning” – doing more than is necessary, appropriate or healthy and killing yourself to get an A+ in all of it. It can look like micromanaging, but it also can appear as if you’re being helpful and generous, when in fact, you’re crippling all the people who work for you by doing more than your share. This is true of parenting as well – if we rescue our children constantly, do too much for them, and never let them fail, fall down or lead their own lives, they can’t grow up as independent, self-reliant adults.
#4: Poor instruction and faulty communication
I’m onboarding two new great team members right now, and the transition process occurred after my returning from a trip to Europe. I was stressed and tired, to say the least. I must say, I fell down on the task. I did a poor job in terms of sharing the critical information about my business systems and processes in a measured, calm and organized way. I bombarded them with so much info that no one would be able to digest all of that data without being overwhelmed and confused. In my case, my poor instruction amounted to throwing at them so much info that it was too much, too urgent and too disorganized.
Other forms of poor communication that I’ve seen in managers and leaders involve:
– Sharing faulty information because they acted too rashly
– Making assumptions that weren’t helpful or accurate
– Expressing disdain, impatience or irritability at the new team member when s/he was simply doing their best
– Being sharp and critical instead of instructive
– Not being truthful or honest when constructive feedback needed to be given
– Backstabbing the employee and gossiping behind their back rather than dealing with the situation head on
#5: Ignoring the overall development of the employee
Yes, as managers, we’re hoping our staff will help us execute in an effective and productive manner all the work that needs to be done to move our goals forward. That said, employees aren’t just our work horses. They’re valuable, talented people who have their own dreams and goals. They want to grow, do meaningful work, and stretch into exciting areas that make them feel alive and purposeful in their work.
Our job as managers is to support that journey – to help our employees grow, develop and become their highest version of themselves that they can be proud of and thrilled about.
If all we do is give our employees tasks to complete, without looking at the bigger picture – for their development and for the growth of the organization – then we’re not serving as effective managers.
So, what do we do when we’re not the empowering, inspiring manager we want to be? If you recognize in yourself poor management behavior, you can turn it around in literally one day if you’re committed to.
How? Take these 3 simple microsteps:
Stop, breathe and look
Stop running and chasing, and start tuning into the emotional (and physical) health of your employees. Make sure you are supporting them, not crushing them down in an effort to “produce” and “win.”
Check in and request feedback from the people who work for you. Ask them how it’s going for them, what you can do better to support them, and what needs to change to make your department and your team run more smoothly, productively, and joyfully. Ask them to be honest.
Look in the mirror
Tonight, after work, go home and look yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself, “How am I behaving as a manager? Would I love to work for someone like me? Would it be a joyful, enriching experience? If not, what do I need to shift in myself and in the way I operate with others so I can bring out the best in everyone around me and also in myself?”
In one day, you can dramatically shift how you manage, lead and communicate. But first, you have to be willing to be bravely honest with yourself, and tune into the emotional experience of those around you.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.