When the Bad Boss is You

By Katherine Spencer Lee

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Certainly no supervisor aims to make a poor impression with employees. Yet, over time it is easy to succumb to management mistakes that reduce your effectiveness as a leader.

Without correction, these problems can lead to declining morale and increasing turnover among staff.

Take note of the following five types of bad managers to make sure you are not one of them:

The Micromanager

You believe in the adage, “If you want something done right the first time, do it yourself.” This may be because you’ve had employees in the past who did not meet your expectations or dropped the ball on critical assignments. As a result, you now require frequent project updates and approvals at each step of the process, just to make sure everything is being done correctly.

While you should be aware of what is happening within the department keeping track of the nitty-gritty details of every IT project can be overwhelming. To overcome micromanaging tendencies, recognize that delegating benefits you and your employees.

By giving workers ownership of their projects, you free up your workload so you can concentrate on big-picture issues. You also demonstrate confidence in your staff member’s abilities, which can enhance their connection to their work and overall productivity. At the same time, employees may develop new skills that benefit your group in the long run.

The Best Buddy

It’s wise to get to know your employees personally because doing so helps build camaraderie within the department. But be careful this strategy does not backfire.

Leaders who form too close a bond with staff may find it difficult to make unbiased decisions. For example, if you treat employees as friends, you may have trouble criticizing or even acknowledging poor performance. Your workers may also lose sight of the fact that you are in a position of authority.

The best CIOs support and coach employees without showing favoritism or becoming overly involved in their staff members’ lives outside the office.

While you want to offer sympathy and assistance when employees are experiencing personal setbacks, you must also keep your relationships with them professional. Listening to their problems and pointing them to available company resources will show you care without causing you to become too embroiled in private matters.

The Invisible Boss

Your schedule is jam-packed, and you are rarely at your desk. You know you have a reliable team of IT professionals, but you’re in the office so infrequently, you sometimes have trouble remembering what they look like!

If this situation sounds familiar, you need to make face-time with your employees a priority. Otherwise, you risk critical personnel and IT issues falling through the cracks. You also may weaken your relationships with staff.

One solution is to allocate certain hours during each day when you will be accessible, such as early morning before other demands kick in. If you will be out of the office for an extended time, inform people how they can reach you.

The Dreamer

Every CIO has a big list of IT projects they would like to accomplish. However, dreamers have unrealistic expectations as to when and how those goals will be achieved. They may want to design and implement a state-of-the-art network security strategy in two weeks or have the sole webmaster on staff revamp the entire company website by the end of the month.

To ensure your objectives are doable and will contribute to company goals, it’s important to approach upcoming projects as a true team effort, soliciting input from those who will be directly involved.

Share your vision and be receptive to feedback, even if it is not what you want to hear. For instance, you may want a companywide desktop systems upgrade to be a priority, only to learn from your staff that the servers require more immediate attention. In addition, considering staff feedback can build employee support for projects while improving the outcomes.

The Read My Mind Boss

You’re meeting with the head of sales to talk about your firm’s new database system, but the manager supporting the rollout has forgotten to bring key components of the plan … or has she?

Although you considered the documents critical to the discussion, you assumed the manager also knew this and, as a result, never told her to prepare them.

Many leaders fail to share their expectations and vision with others, mistakenly believing that things are obvious to employees. When in doubt, it is always wise to clarify your goals with staff.

If certain steps are essential to a project, let employees know. Explain how your team’s work fits in with larger company objectives so everyone understands the importance and value of his or her efforts. Clear communication can make all the difference.

By avoiding the managerial pitfalls outlined above, you will help to make a positive impression as a leader. You will form better working relationships with your employees, which can have lasting benefits in retention and motivation.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.roberthalftechnology.com.