How do your employees really feel about you? Do they look up to you, consider you a friend and respect you? Or is the answer more likely “none of the above”? If it's the latter, there's no time like right now to turn things around. Here are five common reasons employees may hate you, and what you can do to change their minds.
1. You can’t make up your mind. There’s nothing wrong with getting input from different people and taking your time to consider it—in fact, operating in such an inclusive way can give you valuable new perspectives. But at some point, you have to stop gathering and reviewing information, and start making decisions.
If this is you: Try taking more time before each project starts to think through all the ramifications. This will help you assess possible outcomes and decide which path to take.
2. You micromanage them. As business owners, our businesses are our “babies,” so like over-eager parents, many of us tend to micromanage. Unfortunately, micromanaging kills employees’ sense of initiative. Knowing that you will second-guess their choices, they’ll stop making decisions and wait passively for you to tell them what to do. This has two results: First, you become a bottleneck, since nothing can happen without your input, and second, you’re left with a team that’s about as useful as a group of 6-year-olds.
If this is you:Take baby steps. Figure out which areas you can let go of and see how employees do on their own. As you see they can handle the job, you’ll become more comfortable with a more hands-off management style.
3. You talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. Do you expect your team to work all hours while you roll in to the office at 10:30 with a latte in hand? You may be working all hours at home, but that doesn’t count if your team can’t see it and has the impression you’re a slacker. Make sure your staff sees that you’re as committed as they are—and don’t expect them to do what you’re not willing to.
If this is you: Think seriously about the image you’re projecting. Maybe you need to put in more face time to bond with your employees. Or maybe you could let them work from home too.
4. You play favorites. As small-business owners, we all work closely with our team, and let’s be honest: You’re going to like some people more than others. You may even develop friendships with them outside of work. But it’s important not to let those friendships affect what goes on in the office. The way you treat employees needs to be based solely on their actions and achievements, not on how you feel about them as people.
RELATED: 9 Ways to Boost Employee Morale
If this is you: Be hyper-aware of how you’re treating your favorites. You may need to bend over backward to show there’s no favoritism going on. (Like you would if you were working with a spouse or family member.) You should also be open with your workplace buddies, and let them know things are going to change in the office and that it’s not their fault. They’ll probably be relieved, since being the boss’s pet can be uncomfortable.
5. You flaunt your success. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor. We all know that running a business is hard work. But it’s important to share the rewards with the team that helped you reach your goals. Otherwise, you will build resentment among the troops that will ultimately destroy your business. Did you go out and buy a new Jaguar the same month you handed out $20 gift cards as a Christmas bonus? Did you complain how bad the exchange rate was on your European vacation the same year you instituted a salary freeze? If any of this hits to close to home, then your team probably does hate you.
If this is you: Reward yourself in more subtle ways. And make your employees’ rewards commensurate with their contributions—not just the minimum you need to spend to deduct it on your business taxes.
Read more leadership articles.