Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bad Bosses: What Kind are You?



1. Don't Know Your Job

You're the invisible man, the one who doesn't delve into the details or pitch in. You insulate yourself, telling us it's "not my job" and to "just do it." We know your dirty secret: You're out of touch. It's time to step away from your precious spreadsheets and get your hands dirty. You can't channel talent, time, and tools if you don't know how they're already being deployed.

2. Don't Listen

We've seen it all. You fiddle with your BlackBerry (RIMM) when we're speaking. You interrupt constantly to make your points. And you roll your eyes and grow impatient—unless you're talking. No matter, you disregard our input anyway. So we've given up; we don't come to you anymore. And we both suffer for it. If you want to succeed, rebuild that goodwill. It'll require time and toil, but the best relationships always do.

3. Closed-Minded

You're gifted and accomplished, the best and brightest. And that has made you susceptible to pride. Now, you're quick to reach conclusions. Everything is one-sided, with no room for discussion, differences, or dissent. You may view yourself as all-knowing, but conditions change. And talent doesn't stand for "my way or the highway" for long. Pride goeth before a fall. Question is, can you open up and adapt before then?

4. Poor Preparation

Another emergency meeting. Drop what you're doing, they need it now. We're changing direction and working late again. It's always last minute, make it up as you go along. Maybe it fosters teamwork and creativity sometimes, but you can only cry wolf so many times. In reality, the unexpected drama reflects your inability to set expectations, plan ahead, and think it through. And it's just wearing us down.

5. Not Building Skills

"People are our most important asset." Well, it's empty rhetoric here. Maybe you want to be hands-off or encourage self-reliance. Whatever the intent, you're not helping us grow. And that's your real job as a manager: to broaden our outlook, push us beyond our comfort zones, exemplify the corporate values, and focus us on learning, serving, persevering, leading, and advancing. Don't take that responsibility lightly.


6. Overzealous

History remembers the tyrants but rarely the subjects who did the heavy lifting. It's no different here. You've created a divide-and-conquer atmosphere, all stick and no carrot, where everyone should be the same workaholic reflection of you. Eventually, your bullying and rah-rah intensity produces one question: "Why?" You may think we should be in "for life," but what are you giving back in return for that blind loyalty?

7. Don't Maintain Discipline

All the workers come and go as they please, living according to their own rules. No one knows who is where or doing what, and the result is chaos. Maybe you want to be our buddy—or experience how a sweat shop atmosphere fosters only resentment. Either way, coddling does no favors to anyone. Like it or not, you need to set rules and hold people accountable.

8. Never Heard of Tact

You always remind us that we're replaceable and working at your pleasure. Yes, it's your legendary bluntness. Your talent and tenure shields you from scrutiny. Sadly, your lack of self-awareness results in everyone—superiors and reports—maligning or marginalizing you. Brains take you only so far; eventually, you'll need to build and nurture relationships. And that requires people skills: listening, charming, understanding, and compromising. Think you're up for that?

9. Lack Influence

It's funny how we're usually last to get face time and resources. Our mission is vital and performance exceeds expectations. You'd like to believe it's jealousy, but maybe the messenger is undercutting the message. Look at your variables: appearance, body language, and speaking and writing styles. Do you always convey the image of a polished professional who can work in a team and get the job done? If you can't, you'll never get anyone's ear.

10. Blindside Us

Ah, there's nothing like a surprise. Whether you're singling us out in public or ambushing us in private, you're not afraid to render judgments and deliver lectures. Despite our advanced degrees and track records, you still treat us as servants. Instead of dropping the news all at once, give us fair warning when our performance doesn't meet expectations. Always take action immediately—and discreetly.

by Jeff Schmitt (Businesweek)

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