I have learned so much from bad bosses*. Let me clarify, I have learned how not to lead from managers I have had in the past who were not good leaders. I thought I would share a few lessons learned as we are continuing through the great resignation, reshuffling or whatever we call it next.
Some resignations are going to happen for a variety of reasons. Things like retirement, growth, and change of industry may be out of your control. Pay is sometimes a motivator for people to leave, so my suggestion is to pay as well as you can.
Here is my 2 cents for whatever it may be worth:
- Don’t take credit for your employee’s work. This just pisses them off and makes them vent about you to other people as they get on the internet an search for a new job. I had one boss, we will call him GQ, who never lifted a finger and got credit for everything I did. He was good at reading reports so he could act like he knew what was going on. When I eventually left, he was at a loss because he was too busy planning his wedding, taking long lunches, and surfing the internet to pay attention to who our clients were and how to keep them happy.
- Listen to your employees. I try to be really open to feedback. Sometimes it is not what I want to hear, but I have to appreciate that someone cares enough to help me to be better. I had a boss in a previous job when I worked in Human Resources who was a complete narssicist. He thought he knew everything. I did find it entertaining though, when he would share something I had told him with everyone at the management meeting to educate them on whatever the topic was. So he did hear me. After I left, he had to resign for harassment. You can’t keep everyone out of trouble.
- Micromanagers suck. If you have to be in my space all the time asking if I did something, then you are not letting me do my job. The only exception is to manage a new task or process until someone becomes proficient.
- Be transparent. Don’t let the grapevine be the source of information. Be as open and honest about things as possible.
- Deal with conflict. Not dealing with conflict just creates more conflict and stress. Don’t wait until review time to give feedback.
I do want to give a disclaimer that being a bad boss is not the same as being a bad person. Both GQ and the Narcissist were really fun to hang out with and be around. They just were not good managers. The Narcissist ran a really tight ship and got stuff done, but he caused a lot of grief along the way. GQ was very likeable and had all of the upper management in the company fooled because he could talk the talk, but he couldn’t walk the walk.
If you give employees the freedom to contribute their ideas, help them to reach their personal and professional goals, and give credit where it is due, they are much more likely to stay with you, or if they leave, to leave well.
*Disclaimer- my current workplace is not reflected in any of the people referenced above.