Self-awareness isn't always an entrepreneur's strong suit, which means that they're sometimes clueless about how their "management style" is affecting those around them. Here are the red flags that it's past time to change your approach:
1. Dilbert cartoons are posted anonymously.
It's never a good sign when Dilbert cartoons show up in people's offices, but it's a really bad sign when people post them in the hallway when nobody's looking. That means they're afraid you'll take revenge if they poke a little fun.
2. Silence when you enter the room.
If your employees suddenly go all quiet when you're around, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're saying something that they don't want you to hear. It can mean that they're afraid of saying anything, period.
3. Everyone agrees with your ideas.
If all your team members smile and nod whenever you say something, it means that they've decided that it's better just to agree with you than to risk getting shot down. Hint: If the smiles look as if they're glued on, they're not real smiles.
4. You've hired a management consultant.
The mere fact that you're even considering welcoming one of these money-and-time-sucking leeches into your workplace is a dead-certain indication that you're incompetent.
5. Your top performers leave.
Really talented people don't stick around where their talents are being wasted, which is always the case when they've got lousy managers. This is even more true now that "stick around just for the insurance" is no longer necessary.
6. You're telling people how to do their jobs.
It's one thing to assign a task with a deadline and then provide coaching when the employee asks for help. It's quite another thing to insist upon the job being accomplished exactly the way you'd do it yourself.
7. You frequently "smooth things over."
If you have a lot of one-on-ones in which you're apologizing for your behavior in meetings--like chewing somebody out in public--the problem is your behavior, not whatever it was that caused you to lose your cool.
The above is based upon my new book Business Without the Bullsh*t.