Experts say many bosses are clueless about how they come across to employees. Five signs your boss may be one of them:
1. Most of his e-mails are only one word.
Efficient, yes. But one-word e-mails—even a simple “yes” or “no”—are more curt than many bosses realize, says Barbara Pachter, acoach 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.”
Example: When Christina Marcus e-mailed an idea for a project to a former boss, he responded “Y.” Thinking he was questioning her idea, she spent 20 minutes crafting a response. Turns out, the “Y” meant “yes,” not “why.”
2. He rarely talks face-to-face with you and other 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 engenders trust.
3. Your co-workers are 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 your 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. Your team works overtime but still misses 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. He yells.
At a former job, says Marcus, “My bosses would shout freely across the office, even when they weren’t necessarily angry. It charged the atmosphere and really killed productivity.”
Even speaking loudly can damage workplace morale, says Pachter. “Employees will constantly feel like they’re being reprimanded, and they’ll avoid the boss if there’s ever a problem,” she says.
— Adapted from “Five Signs You’re a Bad Boss,” Diana Middleton, The Wall Street Journal.
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