Employees Share the 4 Most Frustrating Things Bosses Do

November 27, 2018

If you are a manager, and your goal is to build strong and lasting relationships with your employees, there are two characteristics you should embody:

Clarity and consistency.

At least, that’s what the data says.

Recently, LinkedIn Learning surveyed 2,968 professionals and asked them their biggest frustration with a manager. The runaway winner – a manager whose expectations aren’t clear or frequently change.

That was followed by a manager who micromanages, a manager who isn’t involved enough and a manager who doesn’t foster employee development.

And these issues lead to people leaving companies. Our data revealed that 36 percent of employees have quit their job because their manager exhibited one of those behaviors and another 15 percent are strongly considering it.

Leadership Experts Weigh In: Clarity Comes Down Having to an Aligned Strategy

We asked four leadership experts – Todd Dewett, Mike Figliuolo, and Lisa Earle McLeod – for their response to the data. They weren’t surprised, particularly by the most frustrating work situation cited by employees: bosses who don’t set clear expectations.

“A lack of clear expectations is the root cause of poor performance,” Lisa said. “Leaders often think they’re clear, but the data tells us a different story. Employees need to know why this matters (the purpose) and what good looks like (performance expectations). Show me a leader who says, ‘I shouldn’t have to tell them, it should be obvious,’ and we'll show you a team that isn’t clear.”

“Unclear or changing manager expectations are often due to the lack of a strategy or a failure to understand the organization’s strategic plan,” Mike added. “If you don’t have clarity on the strategy, it can lead to frequently shifting direction, an absence of prioritization or confusion about what the team should be working on next. Building a good strategic plan is a great way to solve one of the biggest root causes of this issue.”

The next two issues on the list – being a micromanager and being too unavailable – are opposites. It shows how difficult being a manager can be; go too much in either direction and problems arise.

As far as micromanaging, Todd and Mike agreed that it often stems from a boss who has a tough time trusting their employees and/or doesn’t want to give up the work that got them to that position. The third issue on the list – being unavailable – is one Mike believes is based largely on a shortcoming that can be corrected.

“Much of this latter issue stems from leaders not being good at giving feedback,” he said. “The more comfortable you are with giving feedback, the easier it is to engage with your team members even on the most difficult issues.”

The fourth issue on the list – not fostering professional development – is one that most managers want to address, Todd said. But their mindset prevents it from happening.

“Managers know it’s important to foster the development of their employees,” Todd said. “They also acknowledge the need to engage this type of behavior. However, the personality that drove them to become a supervisor (for many, not all) is very self-focused: success is my responsibility, I am in charge of growing my abilities, I don’t need to rely on others since I’m in charge of my future, etc. To the extent this is true, they often underappreciate their role in developing others since they assume others are taking care of it – just as they did.”

What to do with this data: the four must-learn skills for managers

Managers, and people who develop managers, should consider this a road map. Yes, there are many aspects to being a good manager and they take a lifetime to master.

That said, these are the most pressing issues. If you struggle in the four areas listed, you will likely frustrate your employees and drive them to leave.

In other words, setting clear expectations, effectively delegating tasks, connecting with your employees and fostering their growth are must-learn skills for managers.

To help, we’ve unlocked four LinkedIn Learning courses until Dec. 31 that teach these skills:

  1. Setting Clear Expectations: Leading with Vision
  2. How to Not Micromanage: Delegating Tasks
  3. Staying Connected to Your Employees: Ken Blanchard on Servant Leadership
  4. Fostering Your Development: Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers

Bottom line – being a good manager is hard. Really hard.

But these courses can help. They can make your managers more effective and your employees more productive and satisfied. And they can, most importantly, prevent your employees from leaving. 

This post orginally appeared on the LinkedIn Learning blog

*Image from Etsy

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