7 Ways Your Boss Makes Your Job Harder

Last Updated Jun 23, 2011 8:17 PM EDT

Does Your Boss Make Your Job HarderEmployees should be motivated to perform by their managers, not in spite of their managers. As we discussed in 10 Things That Good Bosses Do, a good manager provides employees with:
  • Direction, tools, and training they need to do their job effectively.
  • A challenging, engaging, and rewarding work environment.
  • Freedom from management politics and other assorted BS.
Notice there's nothing in there that reads, "Make everyone's job harder by acting like a self-important, egotistical, micromanaging control freak." That's because that's not what good managers do. That's what dysfunctional managers do.

It's not even a rare occurrence. In my management and consulting experience, it's entirely too common. And here's the thing that's going to piss off a lot of people. It's really common in the middle management ranks.

That's because, unlike senior executives, middle managers haven't yet "arrived," so proving themselves is first and foremost on their minds and they're not always sensitive to who they step on in the process of getting there. In other words, their own needs and wants come ahead of the group.

I know that sounds harsh, but who among you is beyond the need for improvement? That's right, nobody. And guess what? If getting ahead and "making it" is your top priority, you'll get there a lot faster by taking your job and your responsibility seriously. And that means not doing these:

7 Ways Managers Make Employee's Jobs Harder:
  1. Give cryptic or incomplete direction and expect people to read your mind. You're in a hurry because your time is so important - more important than anyone else's - which of course gives you a license to tell people half of what they need to know and then beat them up when they guess wrong on the rest.
  2. Stay in your comfort zone and don't push the envelope. When you sign up for high-risk and high-visibility projects or stick your neck out for your group, it clears the way for all your people to grow and shine with everyone watching. High priority stuff gets attention, resources, and raises, too.
  3. Control or limit information flow. "Always go through me," "Don't cc him," "You don't have a need to know that," "You'll find out when I think it's time" - classic micromanaging and controlling behavior that reduces employee effectiveness.
  4. Let your employees take the heat when you should be accountable. This is inexcusable for the simple reason that your people are your responsibility. When they succeed, it reflects well on you. And when they fail or screw up, that should reflect poorly on you. You were hired and you're paid to be held accountable, not to be scarce when management is beating up on your people.
  5. Be a coward when it comes to delivering bad news and criticism. One of the most challenging but important management functions is to spend time teaching people how to improve and deliver bad news that affects them. I know nobody wants to be the "bad guy," but when you're tough and straightforward, you're actually being the "good guy."
  6. Ask for stuff people have already given you. This is a classic sign of dysfunctional management. What you're really saying is that, because you're so much more valuable than everyone else, it's more productive for them to do something twice than for you to look for it once. What a load of crap.
  7. Let everyone walk all over you. If you're a wimpy doormat, then more assertive and aggressive peers will more effectively sell their ideas and get budget and resources for their programs and people. If you don't fight for your people, it's all downhill - not just for you, for everyone in your group.
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Image: parityytirap via Flickr

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