No one ever said it's easy being a leader-especially a great leader. Not only do you have to be skilled and accomplished at technical aspects of doing your job (for example, accounting, if you're a VP of finance and accounting), you've got to be skilled at working with people. But while many leaders know their stuff when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their business, they really drop the ball when it comes to working with people.
It's no surprise then that employees have plenty of complaints about their leaders, including such things as bullying, indecisiveness, and micromanaging. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review listed 9 things that cause employees problems with their leaders. Here they are in rank order.
1. Not recognizing employee achievements
Everyone wants their boss to acknowledge the good work they do, and when leaders take the time to recognize employee achievements, they unlock a remarkably powerful (and free!) source of motivation.
2. Not giving clear directions
Who hasn't had a boss that tells you to go one direction one day, and another direction the next-or who gives no direction at all? As a leader, one of your top jobs is to clearly define assignments and goals with your people. Be very clear and consistent when you do.
3. Not having time to meet with employees
Are you really so busy that you don't have time to meet with your employees? I didn't think so.
4. Refusing to talk to subordinates
According to research by Gallup, managers who give little or no feedback to their employees fail to engage 98 percent of them in their jobs. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Like recognition, it's free, and the impact is powerful.
5. Taking credit for others' ideas
As a leader, you should always make a point of shining the spotlight on your employees' achievements. Build them up instead of tearing them down.
6. Not offering constructive criticism
While few of us enjoy being criticized, when it is done respectfully and constructively, it's a dose of medicine that can help us improve and become better and more successful. Give your people the benefit of constructive criticism.
7. Not knowing employees' names
As Dale Carnegie once said, "A person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." There's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not knowing the names of all of your employees, and anyone else you work with for that matter. Make a point of learning names.
8. Refusing to talk to people on the phone/in person
This one is a complete and utter surprise to me. What leader in a job of importance refuses to talk with people on the phone or in person? I guess one who won't have his or her job much longer.
9. Not asking about employees' lives outside work
There's more to work than just work. Take time to get to know about the lives of your employees outside of the office-what they like to do, their family, their weekend activities. Not only will you learn more about the people who work for you, but they'll learn more about you in the process-building strong bridges of trust.