Many business leaders are clueless about how they come across to their employees. Your mistakes could be crushing morale, sinking productivity and increasing turnover. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, here are five key questions to ask yourself to see if yourskills need improving:
1. Do you send one-word e-mails? Efficient, yes. But one-word e-mails—even a simple “yes” or “no”—are more curt than many bosses realize, says Barbara Pachter, a management coach and author. Call it the “BlackBerry effect.”
“Managers have a tendency to be abrupt, especially when they’re answering e-mails on the go,” Pachter says. “It comes off as an invitation for conflict. A simple addition of ‘thanks’ goes a long way.”
2. Do you rarely talk face-to-face with employees? Many bosses use technology as a convenient shortcut, rather than holding tough discussions in person.
“No one wants to do the dirty work, but it’s a boss’s lot in life to deal with difficult issues,” says Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss. Face-time builds trust.
3. Are your employees out sick … a lot? Employees fake sickness to avoid a bad boss, says Sutton. And there’s evidence that a bad boss may be bad for employees’ health. One Swedish study found that, of 3,000 men, the ones who said they were poorly managed at work were 20% to 40% more likely to have a heart attack.
4. Does your team work overtime but still miss deadlines? Giving unmanageable deadlines to team members is typical of a boss who’s just come on board, says Gini Graham Scott, author of A Survival Guide for Working with.
5. Do you yell? At a former job, says Christina Marcus, “My bosses would shout freely across the office, even when they weren’t necessarily angry. It charged the atmosphere and really killed productivity, especially when you were trying to figure out who you should be listening to.”
Even speaking loudly can damage morale, says Pachter. “Employees will constantly feel like they’re being reprimanded, and they’ll avoid you if there’s ever a problem,” she says.