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7 bad habits your employees want you to quit now

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Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

If you’re a manager, even a good one, chances are you have a bad habit or two your employees would like you to break. And if you’re a good manager, your staff would never approach you directly about these bad habits, because your positive qualities outweigh these annoyances, and they know that.

Still, a bad habit is a bad habit. If you want to be a better-than-good boss, here are a few behaviors to avoid.

  1. Taking staff for granted. Saying “Great job!” every time a team member performs a task is not what your employees are looking for here. Instead, they’ll value your appreciation of their time, talents, and energy. For example, if an employee has a particularly good idea, stays late in a pinch, writes a phenomenal report, or does something else that warrants special acknowledgment, don’t hesitate to give it. 
  2. Insisting on being right. Nobody is right all the time, and you’re no exception, I guarantee it. Needing to be right all the time—which includes not being able to admit when you’re wrong—is a very bad habit that causes your employees to like and trust you a little less than they would otherwise. Let someone else be right every now and again. It’ll be good for both of you.
  3. Being forgetful. A good memory is a gift that not everyone can claim. But even if you are a tad forgetful by nature, failing to take any steps to compensate for your flawed memory is driving your staff members crazy. It’s inconsiderate and inconvenient when you forget meetings that have been scheduled, decisions that have been made, and documents you’ve received. As a result, your staff wishes you would lean on your assistant more, write down stuff more often, or pay better attention in the first place—anything that would improve your memory.
  4. Interrupting your staff’s work day. It’s all fine and good to build camaraderie with occasional stories about your kids or your pets or some other personal interest, but regularly interrupting your employees’ workday with tidbits about your private life is unproductive and, yes, kind of irritating.
  5. Insisting your staff laugh at your jokes. My 10-year-old loves to tell jokes, as in “Why did the chicken cross the road” jokes, and I tell him, “Sweetie, you’re a funny kid, but you need much better material,” which I then encourage him to pursue. Why don’t I just grin and bear it? Because I don’t want him to grow up and become one of those irritating adults who tell bad jokes and then expects others to laugh. It’s embarrassing and puts people on the spot. Now why would you want to do that to your employees?
  6. Being too slow to make decisions. Your staff is looking to you for direction, and when you’re too slow to make decisions, they aren’t getting it. You won’t always have all the information needed to make the best decision possible; sometimes you just have to go with what you know and redirect later if necessary.
  7. Being too nice. Nobody wants to work with someone who’s the opposite of nice, but being too nice is not a great leadership trait, either. When you’re too nice, you aren’t willing to make the hard decisions that would improve your team’s performance (such as dealing with underperformers), and your staff really needs and wants you to do that.

Management is hard, I’ll give you that. And part of what makes it so hard is the amount of self-awareness required to do it right coupled with the fact that employees often won’t confront a manager about his bad habits.

However, you still need to know. So, if you’re guilty of any of the above, resolve to make a change today, and you’ll surely see an improvement in your relationships (and your staffs’ productivity) tomorrow.

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