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HR Disaster: Making These 7 Blunders Means Losing Your Star Employees

HR Disaster: Making These 7 Blunders Means Losing Your Star Employees

If you’re the boss or manager of a business, you more than likely are able to name your best employees off the top of your head. You know they are the hardest working people you have under you, and you know that they’ll do anything to keep business moving forward. However, this doesn’t mean they should be taken for granted. If your best employees don’t feel like you acknowledge them as being such, they may start to look elsewhere. Your best employees could fly the coop if you don’t make sure to avoid these seven human resource blunders:

1. Unfair compensation

The best employees pride themselves on a job well done. They come in every day hitting the ground running, and don’t stop until the end of their shift (or later, as the case may be). However, if their talents, drive, and willingness to go the extra mile go unrewarded for too long, one of two things could occur. Your best employees may start to slack off when they realize everyone else makes the same amount of money they do, regardless of the effort they put in to their work. If they don’t go this route, they’ll more than likely start looking elsewhere for employment in which their salary is entirely contingent upon the effort they put into their duties.

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2. Poor work-life balance

My father, who works as a teacher, has a reputation around my hometown of being an incredible carpenter, and when summer rolls around people call him non-stop asking if he can build a deck for them or put some other addition onto their house. It’s something a lot of people can’t do, but since my father has done it well before, others think it’s “easy” for him. He is definitely a master of the craft, but he doesn’t consider it an easy task to complete. And it definitely hurts to have people say, “Oh, John can take care of that for you,” as if he has nothing else to do with his life in the summer.

The same goes for your best employees. Just because they’re efficient and quick-working in whatever needs to be done doesn’t mean it’s not hard work, and it doesn’t mean they truly enjoy it. If you put too much on your best employee’s shoulders, so much so that he misses out on other aspects of life (due either to time constraints or sheer exhaustion), he will eventually shrug everything off and realize his paycheck isn’t worth the stress.

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3. Lack of appreciation

I’m not saying your employees need a cookie after a job well done (although it wouldn’t hurt!). But I am saying their hard work and diligence needs to be celebrated in some way or another. Even a simple “thank you” can go a long way in the busy rat-race of the business world. Take the time to have employee of the month awards, or time to recognize improved performances. Also, though hard work is what you pay your employees to do, don’t simply expect them to go the extra mile as the status quo. When workers go above and beyond the call of duty, be sure to recognize that publicly, so others feel motivated to push themselves as well.

4. They’re not supported

We’ve all heard the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In other words, the employees who don’t give their all, or aren’t exactly competent and up to the task at hand, are the ones that sometimes get all the attention. Like I said before, just because someone is a hard worker who usually can figure things out for himself, that doesn’t mean he should feel as if he can’t come to you with a problem.

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Star employees are great workers for a reason: they understand the business and are able to think ahead. But this means nothing if their voices aren’t heard. If they come to you with a concern, take it seriously, and act upon it immediately. They might not be in a position in which their opinion matters much to the company, but if they reach out to you, don’t blow them off. If you do, you run the risk of them becoming disgruntled and unsatisfied with their current position.

5. A negative work environment

Being a shining star in a sea of mediocrity can be incredibly taxing on a person’s psyche. While everyone else goes about their workday with a scowl on their face, top employees often try to make the best of awful situations, no matter how difficult it can be to do so. Negative employees can bring productivity down to a minimum, and will foil any attempt a star employee makes at bringing morale up. If this goes on for too long, even your best employees will start to dread coming to work every day. As the boss, it’s your job to cultivate a working community of people who are happy to be where they are, and all working toward a common goal.

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6. Non-transparency

When an employee thinks you’re hiding something from the rest of the crew, he’ll start to second-guess every decision you make. He’ll wonder if you have an ulterior motive for switching up the schedule, or pairing him with a difficult employee. You’ll lose the trusting relationship you once had, and he’ll constantly doubt whether or not the decisions you make will actually benefit the company. Furthermore, if you start to spring changes of policy on your employees without their input and with no notice, they certainly won’t trust you anymore, as, for all they know, each day could be their last working for the company. Though there are definitely some things that can be kept on a “need to know” basis, make sure that your staff knows about major shifts in policy and procedure well in advance if you want to continue forging a trusting relationship with them.

7. Promoting from the outside

Absolutely nothing can bruise a relationship with a star employee more than keeping them stuck in the position they’re currently in when a promotion comes across the board. This is especially true when employers take in an outsider as a “consultant” or some other title that is meant to specifically keep a great employee in the position they’re in. Many employers will do this because they don’t want to lose that employee in that position, but doing so will almost certainly have the opposite effect: Why should someone work hard if they have no chance of moving up within the company? A move like this will definitely leave your best employees so disillusioned that they’ll immediately start looking for a promotion elsewhere.

Featured photo credit: Employee Ownership/Cabinet Office via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 15, 2019

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them

This is an article I didn’t want to write. Even if it appears that way on the surface, few things are black and white. Between the two colors is a world of gray. Notwithstanding the bosses who behave criminally, some of the people who carry the “bad boss” label have possibly been, or have the capacity to become, a “good boss.”

This is an article I didn’t want to write because I understand that depending on whom you ask, many of us could be labeled either a good or bad boss.

Perhaps another reason I didn’t want to write this article is because context matters. Context for the organization and context for the individual. What is happening in the organization? What is the culture? Is the “boss” in a position for which the individual is equipped to do the job? Is the person in a terrible place in life? The office culture, the relationship a team member has with a boss or board and the leader’s personal life can all influence how the person shows up and leads and how others perceive the individual.

But since I am writing this article, I will share a few signs that bosses are bad and in need of a timeout.

1. Bad Bosses Don’t Know and Haven’t Healed Their Inner Child

If you plan to lead people – well, if you plan to effectively lead yourself – you must get reacquainted with your inner child. Just because you are in young adulthood, middle age or the golden years doesn’t mean your inner child matches your chronological age. If you experienced trauma as a child, your inner child may be stuck at the point or age of that trauma. While you walk around in a woman’s size 10 shoe, your behavior may showcase an inner child who is much younger.

In a June 7, 2008, Psychology Today article, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D., observed,[1]

“The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older … But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. We are told by society to ‘grow up,’ putting childish things aside. To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child—representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness—must be stifled, quarantined or even killed. The inner child comprises and potentiates these positive qualities. But it also holds our accumulated childhood hurts, traumas, fears and angers.”

Sometimes the key that your inner child needs tending to is conflict with someone else’s inner child.

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Good bosses are aware of the ups and downs of their childhood, have worked or are working to heal their inner child and are aware of their triggers. Good managers use this awareness to manage themselves, and their interactions with others. Bad bosses are oblivious to how their inner child impacts not only their life but the lives of others.

2. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Accept Feedback

Bad bosses are not intentional about creating an environment where their peers and colleagues can share feedback about their leadership. They don’t solicit feedback. Given the power dynamic that managers, CEOs and others in leadership yield, they must go out of their way to solicit feedback, and they must do so repeatedly.

Before being completely honest, most team members will test the waters and share low-stakes information to get a sense for how their boss will respond. If the boss is angry or retaliatory, team members are less likely to risk being candid in the future.

So being unable to accept feedback takes on two forms: failing to proactively and repeatedly ask for feedback and reacting poorly when feedback is shared.

3. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling to Give Timely Feedback

The flip side of accepting feedback is giving feedback. Both require courage. It takes courage to open yourself up and accept feedback on ways that you need to grow. Similarly, it takes courage to share honest feedback about a team member’s or colleague’s performance or behavior.

Since not everyone is open to accepting feedback, whether they’re a manager or not, having an honest conversation about areas a team member or colleague has missed the mark, is not always easy. Still, good bosses will find a way to share feedback, and they’ll do so in a timely fashion.

Withholding feedback and sharing it months after a situation has unfolded or in a snowball fashion is unhelpful to the employees. One of the ways we grow as leaders is through feedback. When people have the courage to tell us the truth, that information allows us to progress.

4. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Acknowledge Their Mistakes

Owning their mistakes is like a disease to bad bosses; they do not want it. Instead of being risk averse, they are accountability averse. The problem is that they can only gloss over their weaknesses or failures for so long; the people around are able to see their flaws and weaknesses, and bad bosses pretending they don’t exist is not helpful. It is infuriating.

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However, bad bosses are masterful at reassigning blame. They are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for mistakes — small or large. But career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC “Make It” in May 2017, that “good managers also admit their mistakes.”[2] They don’t pass the blame or pretend they didn’t make a mistake. They own it.

5. Bad Bosses Are Unwilling or Incapable of Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is an underrated leadership skill. But well-placed and well-thought out vulnerability enables employees to see their leaders’ humanity, and it creates a way for leaders to bond with their teams.

Bad bosses may talk about vulnerability, but they don’t practice it in their own lives, particularly in the workplace.

6. Privately, Bad Bosses Do Not Live Up to the Organization’s Stated Values

Bad bosses may publicly spout the values of the organization they work for, but privately they either don’t believe or don’t embody those values.

If they work for an environmental group, they may not practice sustainability in their private lives. Their words and actions are incongruent.

7. Bad Bosses Are Unable to Inspire Others

When bad bosses are unable or unwilling to take the time to inspire others, they lead through fear or command. Neither are helpful.

A culture dominated by fear will stifle creativity and risk taking that can lead to innovation. An autocratic management style will have a similar effect in that team, members will not feel they have the space to step outside of the box they have been placed in.

A good boss is someone who takes time to share the big picture and time to inspire their teams to want to be a part of it.

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8. Bad Bosses Are Disinterested in How Their Behavior Impacts Others

They are narcissistic and focused on self-preservation. In “19 Traits of a Bad Boss,” Kevin Sheridan said,[3]

“Terrible bosses are endlessly self-centered. Everything is about them and not the people they manage or what is going on in their employees’ personal lives. It is never about the team, but rather all about how good they look. Conversely, great bosses lead with integrity, honesty, care, and authenticity.”

Rather than seeing their team’s talents and seeing people’s full humanity, bad bosses believe their team exists to serve them. Families, personal life and priorities be damned. Bona fide bad bosses believe that their comfort should be prioritized over their team’s needs and desires.

9. Bad Bosses Have Likely Received Negative Feedback

Bad bosses have likely been told that they are poor supervisors. They have likely been told time and time again that their behavior is harmful to the people around them.

Perhaps they do not know how to change or are unwilling to change. But bad bosses certainly have received clues, insights and direct feedback that their management style and behavior are harmful to others.

Even when someone hasn’t explicitly said, “Your behavior is harmful to me and others,” the absence of feedback indicates a problem. It can mean that the leader’s team doesn’t feel safe enough to share feedback, that people do not believe the leader will act on what is shared, or that people have determine the best strategy is to avoid the boss as much as possible.

10. Bad Bosses Are Perfectionists

Bad bosses are driven by an internal urge to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t just want to be perfect; they want everyone around them to be perfect as well. This is a standard that neither they nor their team can live up to.

Since perfection is illusive, they spend their time chasing their shadow and being frustrated that they cannot catch it. They are unable to enjoy the journey and often block others from doing so as well. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” Rather than embracing a growth mindset that desires to learn and improved, they are compulsive and toxic.

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If you are like me and you see yourself in parts of this list, do not despair. A bad boss can change. The key is seeking honest feedback and being willing to work through that feedback and your triggers with a therapist or coach.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your age and the mistakes you have made, you can change and become a healthier leader whom others respect and appreciate.

Conversely, if you are employed by a bad boss, do everything in your power to take care of yourself. Understand that your boss’s behavior, even if directed at you, is not about you. Your boss’s reactions, if and when you make a mistake, is a reflection on that individual, not you.

To survive the work environment, think about the lesson you are meant to learn. You can do this with a trusted therapist or capable coach. However, if you deem the work environment to be toxic and harmful to your health, seek employment elsewhere.

In the end, this is an article I did not want to write, but I’m happy I did.

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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