You’re a manager. You may not have the coveted corner office; you may not even have an office at all, but you’re on your way. You’re a leader. You have a team of employees. When you speak they listen. When you say, “jump!” they ask, “how high?” Or so the saying goes.
If only the transition from employee to manager were that easy. The reality is that a manager title does not make you a leader. You have to do that yourself. It takes desire and it takes work.
The truth is being a crappy boss comes easily. As a matter of fact, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have an awful boss at one time or another. If that’s your aspiration, consider these fool-proof approaches to poor management and become the boss you’ve always hated…
In other words, micro-manage. Get involved in every aspect of your employees’ work. Even routine tasks and projects should be monitored closely. Don’t trust them to know what they’re doing. Check up on them ¿ frequently. When you’re on vacation, call every day to make sure your team is actually working, and more importantly, hasn’t mucked things up in your absence.
Be critical. It’s the easiest way to head off apathy in the workplace and keep your employees from getting too comfortable in their jobs. Constantly point out what your employees are doing wrong. Explain how they could have done something better, especially if it means showing them how you would have done it.
I know of one manager who pointed out his employees’ shortcomings during a meeting so everyone could learn. The beauty of his approach is that he simultaneously criticized and embarrassed them.
The premise of a team is that everyone works together. Therefore, there is no need to acknowledge individual achievements and contributions. As the head of the team it’s only fitting that you should accept credit for all of the team’s work. That is, unless the work is sub-par. If there is a problem, make sure everyone knows who is at fault. Your employees won’t learn anything if you shield them from the scrutiny of others.
People learn better when they are in the hot seat. Ask them to defend their work or explain their decisions in a public setting. Staff meetings and conference calls are ideal. Use every opportunity to criticize, chastise, and put your employees down in front of others. Embarrassing them in front of their peers or in front of higher-level employees will help them remember the details of what was said.
A friend of mine often told me about her manager’s staff meeting tirades. This manager was well practiced in poor management techniques. He would raise his voice and call his employees idiots (or worse). “Whose hare-brained idea was this?” he would ask. “Only an idiot would think this was a good idea,” he’d say. Then, addressing the employee who admitted ownership of the idea, he’d ask, “Are you an idiot?”
According to my friend, that man thrived on embarrassing his employees.
Everyone knows that as soon as you show your employees you care, you become their pseudo parent, friend, counselor, or confidante. You might just as well hang a shingle outside your door and post a sign that says “unproductive work hour, air your personal life now.”
Work is for work. Period. Any time spent getting to know your employees as individuals is time away from research, tasks, customers, deadlines, or whatever type of work you do.
Forget the studies that show how connecting with your employees as people improves morale and productivity. Such research is insulting to hard-working employees who, like you, just want to do their job. They don’t want to get to know you any more than you want to get to know them. They’re not getting paid to socialize and neither are you. Make it clear that socializing of any kind will not be tolerated. It’s your job to keep everyone focused on work.
Some poor managers are just clueless: they have no idea they aren’t effective. Some haven’t learned a better way: their role model was poor. And a select few seem to delight in their employees’ misery: they probably hate their job and their boss too. The commonality among all poor managers, however, is the negative impact they have on their employees. This list is only a starting point. The ways in which poor managers excel at creating a downtrodden, miserable work environment are numerous. You may have something to add to the list. Or, you may have a story about a dreadful boss of your own.
Michele Eby works for Media Partners as a writer and training advisor. She has worked in the training and development field for more than 15 years.