Does your workplace seem like a revolving door of talent? Do good employees leave the company after three to six months? If yes, it is time to review your employee retention strategy to determine the issues and remediate the problem. Some of those issues could be unrealistic workloads, low salary compensation, or toxic work culture. Other reasons could be a lack of trust, unappreciation, poor management, feelings of disrespect, or being underutilized.

The list of reasons could go on and on. However, one of the main reasons I would like to focus on this article is poor management. Your employees may be leaving your enterprise because you are a horrible boss or one of your managers is an awful boss.

Well, how do you determine if you are a “horrible” boss? I’m glad you asked. Below is a list of signs you can review to help you figure out if you are indeed a difficult boss or have some characteristics that make it difficult for others to work for you.

Sign #1: It’s my way or the highway!

Do you allow others to come up with new ideas or solutions for new projects in the workplace? Or do you find yourself making all the decisions even when you know it’s not the best option for your business? It’s your “way or the highway” because you are “The Boss.” There are severe problems with this mindset. For one, your team will stop volunteering ideas if they feel  you do not accept any of their opinions. Your attitude will then break your team’s positive synergy, and your employees will behave like robots, working on autopilot. They will implement your ideas without analyzing if they are going to be successful or not.

Remember, your employees or direct reports are usually on the frontline, working directly with clients, customers, and vendors. They execute your strategies, procedures, and know how your customers feel about the company. They can easily say if your internal operations are successful or not. As a result, they are a gold mine for valuable information that can help your company grow and thrive.

How to fix the problem: The Society of Human Resource Management highly recommends that you hear your employees’ inputs and consider their ideas if you want your business to bloom. Otherwise, you will lose productivity, which would impact your company’s future, short-term and long-term.

Employees who are not heard, feel undervalued, unappreciated and will want to leave the company. I mean, who wants to work with someone who does not have a collaborative spirit, or a “team player” mentality?

Sign #2: You are “manager in name only”

When you assign a project to your direct reports or team, do you regularly follow up on the project’s status? Do you provide solutions when the team hits a roadblock? And are you ready to help finish the job on time if there are delays, budget expense issues, or miscommunications? In all to say, do you actively manage your team’s projects, or do you focus on your daily list of things to do and let your team figure out the rest?

Allow me to clarify one thing: I am not asking if you are a micromanager because no one likes to be micro-managed. However, a manager who has the title but does not actively manage a project is courting trouble. That management style isn’t recommended for short-term employees or temps, especially, as employees need direction, feedback, and coaching – especially if your team is young and inexperienced.

Furthermore, employees need a sense of accountability. Following up with them frequently may help them stay on course. If not, they could relax their performance, which would inevitably impact the project’s deadline or results. Secondly, having little to no communication with your team may affect your project’s results. Your employees may not execute the project the way you intended it to be completed, and the output will not meet your expectations.

I know it’s hard to believe that some managers are not actively managing, but it’s prevalent in the workplace. Kelby Zorgdrager, Chief Executive Officer at Develop Intelligence, says that “often, it’s a person who was an individual contributor but received a promotion to people management. This person still acts as an individual contributor, focusing on their project work instead of the team they manage.” He adds, “This manager is too busy or disinterested to provide guidance, leaving employees to guess how to address a task. They may or may not guess right. Team members may be working at cross purposes. This manager isn’t present enough to notice if anything is off track.”

Consequently, your employees won’t know what to  expect from you if you don’t give them  feedback. They will not know if they are doing an excellent job or that you appreciate their contributions. Ultimately, your employees will start to feel like they are not valued and want to leave your  organization.

How to fix the problem: Recognize what your motives are for behaving this way. Some employees prefer to be an individual contributor to a project and not have to manage others. As a result, the manager’s position may not be the right fit for them. You should consider moving them to another team, or if you are able, you should  promote or hire another person to manage the project. Perhaps this person may want to be a people manager, but need training. In that case, you should enroll them in management training courses. Ultimately, it is best to discuss with HR, your superiors, or the board of directors for a course of action.

Sign #3: Setting unrealistic deadlines without input from your team

Have you ever made promises you couldn’t deliver because you were trying to impress the board of directors, investors, customers or Superiors? That’s alright! It happens. However, if you let this mistake happen often, it is problematic. You lose the trust of your superiors and your employees as well. Both parties will believe you are incompetent and will not want to work with you or for you.

Nonetheless, let’s look at the bright side and say you and your team can meet all of your aggressive deadlines. You look fabulous before your supervisors, but your team is exhausted and overworked by the long hours they’ve had to put in to meet those ambitious deadlines. If this cycle continues, you will rapidly lose great employees who cannot accept working on such tight deadlines all the time.

How to fix the problem: You should always solicit your team’s input for establishing reasonable deadlines. By doing so, you will make them feel valued and appreciated.

Sign #4: A knack for throwing employees under the bus

If one of your workers misses a deadline or makes a mistake, do you publicly shame them in front of your supervisors? Or do you follow up with them privately? Contrary to popular belief, highlighting an employee’s blunders in an email to colleagues and superiors is not recommended. No one wants to be embarrassed or feel like their manager does not have their back.

One of the biggest blessings/curses of being a manager is taking all the credit for your team’s successes and getting all the heat for their failures. This responsibility comes with the role of management. If you accept this responsibility, it’s unnecessary to blame your subordinates for issues you could have helped prevent.

How to fix the problem: Protect your team and accept the fault as a collaborative mistake. Try to figure out what happened and report to superiors the solutions you have designed with your team. If you do this, your employees will know you have their back and will be willing to fight for you in return. They will put out their best effort to execute a project, even in times of crisis. Therefore when issues arise, try to put your worker at ease by congratulating them for the efforts they’ve put into the project so far. Then ask questions to determine what went wrong. More importantly, how you ask questions is very important. But, your questions cannot lead with a judgmental statement or accusatory tone. Nor should your questions be directed toward the employee’s actions, even if he/she is at fault. Focus solely on the problem at hand. For example, start by saying, “I noticed there’s an issue or delay with project X, and wondered if are you aware of it? If yes, can you advise on what caused this issue to arise?”

Furthermore, how you ask questions is very important. Your questions cannot lead with a judgmental statement or accusatory tone. Nor should your questions be directed toward the employee’s actions, even if he/she is at fault. Focus solely on the problem at hand.

If you feel the individual responds genuinely and appropriately, follow-up with questions such as “Since you are the lead expert on this project, what do you think we should do to fix the issue? Do you have any solutions? And is there anything I can do to help?” These are great ways to show your employee understanding and support throughout this uncomfortable situation.

However, if you feel your direct report is lying to you or answering questions evasively, you may want to ask more direct questions. Your goal is to isolate the matter in a way that your direct report has no other choice than to come clean about the issue. If they acknowledge their faults, then start brainstorming on solutions to remediate the situation, especially if their mistake hasn’t significantly compromised the project results. No one is perfect. We all need a grace “pass” occasionally.

However, suppose their mistake has significantly impacted the project’s outcome or the company’s future. In that case, you may need to involve HR and launch a course of progressive disciplinary actions for this employee.

Sign #5: You tend to criticize employees and provide only negative feedback

Karen Condor, an insurance specialist at Seattle Life Insurance Co., said she once worked for a supervisor who was quick to criticize employees but rarely acknowledge when someone did something well.

Three months after joining the company, Condor said her manager told her she did not look the part of an office professional and forced her to meet an image professional. The manager continued to be harsh and insulted her. Karen adds, “On my first out-of-the-office trip with the team, she chastised me in public for not taking enough pictures of members and for wearing T-shirts and shorts as we were traipsing around national parks in the summer heat.”

How to fix the problem: Can you, as a manager, determine what drives you to make critical statements? If the information is not constructive, necessary, or helpful, why do you feel the need to criticize your workers?

As a leader, your role is to help your team reach its fullest potential for the company’s benefit. You can achieve this through coaching, directing, and active support. However, if you believe negative reinforcement can accomplish the same results, you need to be very strategic. For example, if an employee is always late, you can restrict certain work privileges, like reducing lunch breaks or pay.

However, criticizing them is not the answer. You end up demoralizing the spirit of the employee and the team. Ultimately, they will end up leaving your company. Instead, you should try to understand the reasons or causes for the employee’s lateness, and then brainstorm solutions to fix the issue.

Being a manager is a challenging but rewarding journey. You learn about yourself and the art of managing humans. Yes, it is an art because humans are complex, unpredictable, and sensitive. Managing humans demands tact, organization, time management, diplomacy, negotiation and humility.

If you’d like to improve your management skills, you need to be open to receive constructive criticism, especially from your employees. It is good practice to put out surveys and solicit your employees’ feedback occasionally. Make sure they can respond anonymously using a 3rd party service. Also, you should consider taking online management classes. Additionally, reach out to two or three experienced managers who would be willing to mentor you through your journey. If you need more information, please contact our HR department at 1-800-776-0076.