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Jan 19, 2017

In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.

-Tina Fey

Sounds simple, right? Wrong! Being a manager couldn’t be more difficult. Well, let me rephrase: Being a good manager couldn’t be more difficult. Being a bad manager is pretty easy. But even if they can get the hang of staying of the way of progress, there are so many mistakes and pitfalls that can keep a manager from being an effective leader.

Here’s how you know you’re a bad manager

#1: Bad managers can’t control their emotions

No one is perfect; 45% of employees regularly lose their temper at work. A leader doesn’t have to radiate peace, calm and harmony, but they must know how to keep their anger contained until it can be expressed privately. When a manager expresses anger or disappointment publicly, it lowers the morale of the entire office, which leads to problems with engagement.

Did you know that 25% of employees occasionally call in sick in order to avoid conflict at work? Those are lost hours and lost dollars for your company’s bottom line. Great managers will deal with anger, disappointment and frustration in private and with professionalism.

#2: Bad managers don’t think things through

The biggest difference between a manager (even a decent manager) and a real leader is their mission. If a manager lacks a mission at work, if they’re just coming in and doing busy work with no end goal, they’ll never be a leader.

Without a solid plan in mind, it’s hard to set goals and measure success. Also, without a planning stage, a manager is losing out on opportunities for feedback or buy-in. Leaders take their time when approaching a new project or decision and helpfully map it out for their employees before heading in a new direction.

#3: Bad managers fail to provide recognition

Everyone has had this kind of manager before: they criticize you at every turn and it takes a miracle for them to offer a single word of praise. A leader knows that recognition for a job well done is one of the biggest motivations for employees. In fact, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

Giving a few words of encouragement is a priceless tool for a leader: Literally, it doesn’t cost them anything. It’s a few seconds of their time at most, and that little bit of extra effort makes the difference. Leaders put this into practice by communicating face to face, via email or even a formal rewards and recognition program.

#4: Bad managers micromanage

Leaders know when to butt in and when to stay out of things: A manager (especially a bad one) often tries to control every aspect of their employees’ work. With micromanagement, there’s no room for creativity and innovation. What’s more, it ruins workplace relationships. Micromanagement indicates a lack of trust, and no good relationship can be formed without trust.

Micromanagement leads directly to disengagement, which can be extremely costly. Workplaces with an average of only 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experience 2% lower earnings per share compared with their competition. Leaders focus on the end result and getting there, regardless of unconventional methods.

#5: Bad managers don’t give guidance

A regular old manager will either tell an employee exactly what to do, or they’ll give them no direction whatsoever. While they don’t want to be told how to do their jobs, 65% of employees said they want more feedback, and leaders who know how to give effective and helpful feedback. Without effective feedback, a manager doesn’t allow employees to learn and grow in their careers. The employees stagnate, which leads to (you guessed it) more disengagement.

Leaders pay attention and notice when an employee might need guidance. Their feedback is consistent and helpful.

#6: Bad managers don’t listen

Research has shown that there’s a direct correlation between strong leadership and strong listening skills. A manager might think that, because they’re the “leader”, that’s where the ideas are supposed to come from. A real leader knows that good ideas come from all levels—from the newest intern to the highest executive.

A good leader takes time to listen, carefully analyze, and respond appropriately to all ideas.

Nothing is black and white: There aren’t just leaders and bad managers, there’s a spectrum. But if managers keep an eye for these mistakes and learn to avoid them, they’ll more likely be able to lead their employees.