Nobody wants to be the manager employees dread. But, from time to time, it's possible to lose focus of your direct reports' best interests.

When this is the case, it's important to immediately correct your path -- or it won't be long before your employees lose faith in their boss.

Here are four characteristics of managers who could be doing more to put their employees on a path to success:

1. Giving responsibility without empowerment.

A sure-fire way to set up an employee for failure? Assign them a duty in an area they can't feasibly impact.

As a manager, it's on you to ensure that your employee has the proper empowerment to fulfill their job -- whether that be in the form of training, resources or staff.

Failing in this area could lead to a domino effect of trouble throughout your company, as one employee's poor performance could lead to deficiencies in other departments.

Here's a personal example: Early in my career, in a relatively junior position at a public company, the CEO asked me to write the organization's form 10-K annual report for shareholders. I did the necessary research and eventually completed the job, but it's something I wasn't qualified for.

Don't be that CEO.

2. Failing at feedback.

I've written extensively about the importance of feedback, and how it directly impacts workplace culture and performance. If you're failing at giving feedback, you're essentially begging your employee to fall short of expectations.

It's always good to give positive feedback publicly. But if you're giving constructive feedback in the wrong environments -- i.e. in front of other employees or in a meeting -- you're undermining your direct report, and potentially building up anger or mistrust.

It's best to give constructive feedback privately, but it doesn't need to be, or feel like a big deal. If asking an employee to step into your office intimidates them, there are other methods to delivering these comments. At my company, Arkadium, each manager holds a weekly one-on-one with their direct report, which serves as a great time to share feedback.

3. Don't foster a toxic gossip environment.

People are going to gossip. But I draw a line when casual chit-chat ends up being about a colleague, client or manager.

Your employee should feel comfortable coming to you with any roadblocks. But part of your job is to help solve those issues whenever possible. Sometimes it's inevitable: an employee may approach you with something along the lines of "So-and-so is impossible to work with! They are just awful!"

As soon as you validate these types of conversations, they quickly become what your relationship is built on. It can also needlessly color someone's opinion of a good person or environment. If all you talk about is how unpleasant someone is, it becomes easy to stop seeing the positives going on around you.

Feeding into this can turn normal conversation into a feeding frenzy of negativity -- which is crippling for an office environment. Nobody wants to work with a toxic colleague, and by feeding into this ideology, you're allowing your employee to be the person nobody enjoys working with.

4. Confusing a stretch goal with a bad goal.

I use a foolproof litmus test when coming up with goals and objectives. One question I ask myself is especially important: Does it feel like it's a stretch, but not impossible?

The answer, every time, should be yes.

Stretch goals are great for keeping employees motivated and ambitious -- while allowing them to fail in a safe space. For example: Say one of your salesperson's goals for Q3 is to outperform Q2 by 30 percent, and instead they outperform by just 25 percent. Your business -- and your salesperson -- are still in good shape.

Designating a goal that isn't attainable is simply setting someone up to fail.

Consider that same salesperson, who outperformed Q2 numbers by 25 percent. If their goal was to double the previous quarter's numbers, that same performance is put in an entirely different perspective -- one that's extremely damaging for that employee's morale.

If you find yourself falling under any of the above criteria, it's not too late to change. By using these guidelines, you can quickly become the manager you want to be -- and the manager your employees need you to be.