A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
March 24th, 2013 by William

The 20 Things Employees Don’t Want From Their Boss

There are many articles out there floating around detailing all the things that employees want and expect from their bosses. One article, “The Top 10 Things Employees Want from Their Boss: Keys to Employee Engagement,” July, 2012, by Rick Conlow, I found especially interesting. The article details some recent statistics on employee satisfaction that I think you’ll find as interesting as I did.

The article tells us, “Unfortunately, according to management derailment studies, 50% of today’s managers fail…55% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, which is a record high. And, the # 1 reason employees dislike their jobs is that they hate their boss.”

Most articles, as does this one, go on to detail specific guidance to bosses on what they “should do” to be better bosses and foster a happy workforce. However, this article, like most of them, doesn’t detail specifically why employees “hate’ their boss. I believe there’s a difference between what makes one worker happy, and like their boss, and what makes another person unhappy and hate their boss.  My point being that I believe there are certain boss behaviors, that are not on all these lists floating around of good things for bosses to do, that can derail all the best intentions of a boss. These I’ll call the things an employee “doesn’t want from his/her boss.”

So here are my 20 things that a boss shouldn’t do–i.e., what employees “don’t” want from their boss.

  1. Don’t listen to me with that distant, distracted, I’d rather be somewhere else, look in your eyes–at least fake that you’re interested in what I have to say
  2. Don’t be an alarmist…don’t jerk the student body left as the least little problem arises–don’t tell me to drop everything and DO THIS NOW!–no student body left exercises
  3. If you have a problem with something I’m doing, don’t read me the riot act in public…call me aside and deliver your scolding in private
  4. Don’t micromanage me…if you think I can’t or won’t do the job correctly replace me but don’t pick apart everything I do–let me take pride in my work
  5. After not having talked to me much over the year, don’t pretend at annual review time that you’re on my side and fully understand my motivations and daily challenges and problems
  6. Along the same vein–don’t wait until review time to tell me I’ve either done a good or bad job–tell me during the year, even if the situation doesn’t call for any celebrating–even if we’re mired down with problems tell me how I’m doing–say thanks every now and then
  7. Do share the accountability for success “and” failure with me…don’t just pin failures on me–act like we’re all part of the same team and that we’re all in this together
  8. Don’t skimp on the resources I need to do my job–if you can’t provide me with something, explain why and then don’t hold me accountable for things I have no power to accomplish–that includes withholding information that would make my job easier
  9. Do not make destructive comments to me about any of my peers–don’t put me in the middle of your divide and conquer games
  10. Don’t make comments about me to my colleagues either
  11. Do not react to my suggestions with “no” or “but” or “however”–at least feign interest–if I hear those answers I won’t be likely to make any more suggestions–is that really what you want?
  12. Do not play favorites–treat everyone under you the same
  13. Don’t give me that tired old cliché of “don’t bring me problems–bring me solutions”–many times I don’t know how to solve a problem and need your help and guidance–don’t punish the messenger. Maybe it’s something that only you can solve? Maybe it’s a plea for you to talk to me more often?
  14. Don’t preach work life balance when you truly don’t believe in it–don’t hold it against me because I can accomplish my job in eight hours when others on your staff must work 10-12 hours to get anything done
  15. Don’t be condescending about how smart you are–even if true it degrades all who work for you and it degrades you
  16. Don’t continue the command and control management style–it’s not becoming any longer
  17. Don’t raise your voice to me–I don’t like being yelled at
  18. Don’t be unavailable and inaccessible–if you have an open door policy leave the door open and encourage people to come talk to you
  19. Don’t believe for a minute that pay is the only thing that truly motivates me–yes it’s important but I’m much more complex than that
  20. Don’t partake in the games that I explain in my book Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw–actively try to curtail them if others are playing them

Remember: If you want your people to be better, you have to be better as a leader. The above no-no’s will help you to increase the respect your people have for you and lead you to achieve true employee engagement. Leadership is a high-contact sport. It takes time and effort.

The best leaders take all the above to heart because they care about the attitudes and thus motivation of their employees. When people know and see that you care, they will do almost anything for you. What’s the payoff for following through on these actions? All of the benefits listed below. Which are you interested in achieving?

  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Better teamwork and communication
  • Increased employee morale, commitment and engagement
  • Improved productivity and quality
  • Your own career advancement and success

The bottom line is that how you act as a leader determines how your employees react. You, as the leader, set the tone for your organization–only you can change it if it’s not working. On top of doing the “right” things to be a good leader you must also keep from consciously doing the “wrong” things. They are distinctly different. In next week’s blog post I will analyze why that’s true when I cover what’s called “The Two-Factor Challenge,” which explains why the things that make employees happy can be completely different than those that make them unhappy.


One Response to “The 20 Things Employees Don’t Want From Their Boss”
  1. I just got a new position at my old job and my new supervisor asked my team to tell her what we expect from her. I think your above statements will do for starters.

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