The 10 Worst Excuses for Being a Bad Boss

Last Updated Oct 28, 2011 12:17 PM EDT

Do you have excuses -- or more likely "reasons" -- for not being a better boss?
See if you recognize any of these:
  1. "I'm under incredible pressure from above." Of course you are. Join the management club. Every boss is stuck in between, with employees the "rock" and upper management the "hard place." If the demands from above seem overwhelming and pull you too far away from your direct reports, get your employees more involved in your projects and responsibilities. They'll be glad to help, especially if they gain skills and exposure in the process.
  2. "I don't get paid enough to deal with this (stuff)." You're right. Great leaders are chronically under-compensated and under-appreciated, and that's not going to change. But great bosses see getting satisfaction from praising, developing, mentoring, and helping employees reach their goals as a part of their total compensation package. If you don't, step away from your management role or you will always be unsatisfied.
  3. "My employees work better when I leave them alone." If they do that means you are the problem. Great employees don't need (or want) to be told what to do, but they do need to hear they do a great job, to learn about new directions or strategies.... Everyone likes some amount of attention; just make sure the attention you give makes a positive impact.
  4. "This process was created by someone who doesn't have to implement it." Often true. For example, many HR specialists have never worked in a shop floor leadership role, but that doesn't mean certain initiatives are not worthwhile. You may not like creating development plans, but don't just go through the motions. Work hard to make sure your plans actually develop your employees. And if you don't like a policy or guideline, don't ignore it; work to make it better. It's every boss's responsibility to make sure company policies protect and promote employee interests to the greatest extent possible.
  5. "This place is too political." Office politics are a factor, but people who complain the most about how company politics hold them back are often the people who take the least amount of responsibility for their own careers. Sometimes you do have to worry about image, but performance eventually trumps perception. Besides, you can't control perception but you can control your performance -- especially how your performance impacts your team.
  6. "If she gets too much credit I'll look bad." Don't be afraid subordinates will outshine you. Your goal is to have subordinates who outshine you. Great leaders are surrounded by outstanding talent; that's how they are recognized as great leaders. The better your team, and the individuals that make up your team, the better you look.
  7. "I shouldn't have to praise people for doing their jobs." Yes, you do. Not only is praising employees the courteous thing to do, from a performance point of view praise reinforces positive behaviors and makes it much more likely those behaviors will be repeated in the future. Expect your employees to do their jobs and then praise them when they do, because that's your job.
  8. "Well, that's how I was trained." Do you train employees by tossing them into the fire simply because that's how you were once treated? Whenever you feel something was "good enough for me," it isn't good enough for your employees. Determine the best way to train and develop your employees and then make it happen. Any bad experiences you had should shape a more positive approach, not serve as a blueprint.
  9. "I need to spend some time with the troops, so hey, I'll go talk to Joe." You need to get to know employees on a personal level... but do you typically gravitate towards employees with whom you share common interests? Every employee deserves attention and respect. Ask questions. Take an interest. They'll make it easy for you, because people naturally appreciate people who are interested in them.
  10. "Forget him. I know he doesn't like me." Few things are more awkward than working with, or even just talking to, employees who you feel don't like you. Reach out and clear the air. Say, "Joe, I don't feel our working relationship is as positive as it could be and I'm sure that's my fault. I really want to make it better." Then let Joe vent. Sure, you may not like hearing what he says, but once you do you'll know how to make the situation better.
Related: Photo courtesy flickr user marc falardeau, CC 2.0
  • Jeff Haden On Twitter»

    >> View all articles

    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.

Comments