Being the boss is tough.
Yes, it comes with a heck of a lot of perks BUT, with great power comes more responsibilities than you ever thought possible. We’re sure the quote went something like that.
And one of those responsibilities is keeping your employees happy. But are they happy with you as their boss? Do you ever worry about making bad decisions when it comes to your employees? Do you ever worry that you might be an awful boss?
If this sounds like you, then don’t worry. In this article, we’ll break down all your concerns and show you how you can turn things around to become the boss of your employee’s dreams.
Sign # 1 You can’t relinquish control
This is a tricky one because as the boss, you feel like you need to have all your fingers in all the pies. But that will leave you with sticky fingers and fed-up employees.
We get it. It can be hard to hand tasks over to your team when it’s YOUR team and YOUR company.
And you might think that checking constantly on their progress, and asking for them to check with you for every little thing is a sign of a good and present boss – but it can actually be very disheartening. And damaging.
No one likes to be micromanaged. It can cause serious negativity in your team, and make them feel undervalued, untrusted, and incapable of doing a good job. And worse still, by not giving employees the responsibility, their key skill set is unlikely to grow. Making it much worse for them in the long run.
Try this instead
The time has come to relinquish control. You have to start trusting your employees to do the job you hired them to do. After all, you made the decision to hire them. So you know they will do a good job. And guess what? If you do loosen the reins a little bit and hand the work back over, you’ll have more free time on your hands. Bonus!
Give them space and the support to get the work done their way. You might need to physically lock yourself in your office in order to do this! But if your employees see that you trust them and you believe in them, they will be all the happier for it.
Sign # 2 You forget your employees have lives outside work
We get it.
This is your company. It’s your business and it means the world to you. But even if you are happy spending all your time at the office, it doesn’t mean you should expect your employees to feel the same.
Whether this means working extra hours, staying late, coming in early, skipping lunch breaks or working weekends, your employees need to have a work/life balance. And you need to respect that.
Remember. Your employees have lives! They might be married, have children, be carers for someone, or have other commitments. And a lack of understanding for things like emergency childcare or a lack of empathy when they might be having a hard time personally can cause employees to resent you, become physically exhausted and even consider quitting.
Try this instead
A work/life balance and flexible working have become the norm, especially over the past year where we have had no choice but to accept flexible working.
Offer realistic solutions. Allow flexibility for things such as doctors appointments and childcare. On Fridays, consider having a slightly earlier finishing time. This can promote such an optimistic and positive vibe in the office, and will make your employees feel cared for. And that you understand their needs.
And, if possible, try not to send emails and messages outside regular working hours. If you must, make it clear that you don’t expect them to respond until they’re back at their desk the next day.
Sign # 3 You only give negative feedback
No one likes a negative Nelly! Or a negative Norman for that matter.
The problem here is that you focus too much on the negatives in every situation. Being overly critical of your employees and only highlighting errors. As well as ignoring employee wins. And if this sounds like you, then now is the time to stop, reel it back a bit, and have a look at the situation at hand.
If jumping to the negative is your first (and sometimes your only) response when it comes to your employees, and their work, then all this will do is lower morale, cause tensions among you and divide a bigger line between boss and employees.
Try this instead
For every negative piece of feedback you have, try to find a positive to balance it. This is especially true for situations like performance reviews. If you are quick to point out the problems and not focus on the positives, then you are giving way too much constructive feedback,
Go back to the balancing act. Even if in your head you see the feedback as constructive and good for them in the long run, to your employee, all they will hear is the bad stuff. Leaving them feeling negative and defeated.
What positive aspects of their role can you balance the negatives with? Let them know what a great job they did at last week’s meeting – overcoming their shyness and speaking out. Praising even small improvements and wins will give the morale boost they need, and help them digest the areas they need to work on.
Sign #4 You’re a doormat
Now, this is basically the opposite of the previous problem.
Think Michael Scott in The Office. You haven’t watched The Office? Oh, you definitely should!
Anyway, where were we? Michael Scott is a people pleaser. He cares more about what his employees think about him and will let them walk all over him if it means they like him.
Does this ring a bell for you?
If you feel like you always have to be the fun, carefree, and completely lax boss, then your niceness might get taken advantage of. Becoming overly soft and purely focused on making your employees happy could have a detrimental effect on their productivity and their efficiency.
Try this instead
We understand that you want your employees to like you and that you want them to have fun and be relaxed in the office. But, more importantly, they need to respect you. And if you keep acting like a doormat then they won’t.
So, what’s the solution? You need to be fair, but you need to set boundaries. Never stop focusing on engaging with your employees, and inspiring them, but let them know there are limits. Quick feedback conversations shouldn’t lead to long, never-ending chats about how your new puppy is winning at toilet training. There’s a time and a place. Set the boundaries, be firm, but still be the nurturing boss you want to be.
Sign #5 You have favourites
Even though it is normal to naturally warm to some people over others, you cannot play favourites in the office.
Whether it is because you think someone is doing a better job, or you just get along better with them, it can be dangerous to put them on a higher pedestal than everyone else. And the worst thing is, you might not even know you are doing it. But we guarantee that the rest of your employees will notice. And that is where resentment and negativity can breed.
Try this instead
If you find that you do play favourites (even unintentionally) or if it has been pointed to you, it is your responsibility to address it. Get to know all your employees a bit better, instead of just speaking with the ones you particularly warm to. And try and make everyone feel special by finding common ground and opening the conversation.
Pair one of your “favourite” employees with one who you don’t know as well on a project. This will help you see the strengths of the other employee and will allow them to have a moment to shine. Which they will be so grateful for. Especially if they have been overlooked in the past.
And don’t let employees who you might have unknowingly brushed over in the past feel like they are being ignored. Address their concerns and let them know that you will be using their skills for upcoming projects.
Sign #6 You have a closed-door policy
Do your employees come to you when they have an issue, are upset, have a problem, or just need to talk?
Then it sounds like you could be seen as unapproachable by your employees. And that is bad for morale and bad for business.
A closed-door policy is exactly how it sounds. As a boss, one of your biggest perks is a nice, private office. Somewhere you can escape from it all, concentrate on your work and close your door. But just because you have a door – it doesn’t mean it should always be closed. This could very easily give your employees a “do not disturb” message.
And this can lead your employees to feel like you are hard to trust, hard to confide it, and just not very friendly.
Try this instead
You could be a total people person. But if you keep your door shut and your employees out, then how will they ever know that?
Start encouraging a culture of open communication around the office and show yourself as approachable. Be accessible and helpful to your team, and show that you are genuinely interested in their work and their lives. Maybe start organising monthly one on one sessions, so you can really talk to your team and find out if they are struggling with anything, or if they want to be recognised for something.
No one said it was going to be easy
But being the boss comes with so many amazing benefits. And having a happy, open and communicative team around you can make all the difference to your business. Both in how it runs and how it converts.
Make sure that you take the time to look at yourself objectively as a boss. Talk to your employees about how they see you (or get them to do it anonymously through a form so they don’t stress about getting in trouble!) And if changes need to be made, make them.
And if you are still concerned, then that is why we’re here. Our leadership development training could be just what you need to put all the pieces together and create an amazing workplace with a happy and content team.