Managing employees can be one of the toughest jobs to face when running a company. Too often, contractors build their business without having any training, guidance or expertise in how to deal with their people effectively.
If you’re in the black, you might not worry about how good of a boss you are, but poor management can be quite costly, and not just in terms of performance. Unhappy subordinates will fail to achieve maximum productivity, and could also spread destructive attitudes to susceptible fellow workers or leave clients with an overall negative impression.
It’s clearly in your best benefit to be a good manager—but how do you know if you are? Here are some classic warning signs that will let you know if you’re a bad boss.
1. Unusual turnover
Although higher-than-average turnover is to be expected in construction, keep a watch on your numbers. If newbies seem to leave your company quickly, you may have an unpleasant or negative company culture. If excellent long-term employees start to exit, you’re not offering them good enough reasons to stay. The old quote “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses” is generally true.
2. Poor planning
As the boss, it’s your responsibility to not only set the vision, but to communicate that vision clearly to your team. Opaque management should be a thing of the past. Set clear goals, share them with your workers and explain not only what role they will have in executing your vision, but also how they will be rewarded, as well.
3. You don’t listen
Do you have trouble remembering things your crews have told you? You’ve probably chalked it up to how busy you are. In reality, it has nothing to do with your workload; you’re just a terrible listener. It’s likely your employees need to give you the same information repeatedly. If you find yourself wondering why no one ever tells you anything, it’s because they’ve stopped trying.
4. Decisions make themselves
Good bosses know how to make difficult decisions, and they have the guts to make them. Bad bosses just wait for the situation to resolve itself. If you ever find yourself pretending not to know about a potential issue among your crews so you won’t have to address it, you’re not doing yourself—or your workers—any favors. Even though the problem may seem minor to you, it could be of vital importance to someone else.
5. Playing favorites
No one has to be told playing favorites is a bad thing. However, with construction companies, you have to make a real effort not to do so, as your workforce will likely be populated with relatives and friends. Although you may trust your family members and old friends more than other employees, the downside to actively engaging in nepotism and cronyism will more than offset any benefits you think you’ve created. Remember, prosperous companies do not promote unqualified or unexceptional personnel based on their last name or connections. This intentionally creates a situation where groupthink will flourish, and your company’s performance and reputation will suffer. Instead, hire a diverse, varied workforce, and treat them fairly.
6. You don’t develop your workers
Do any of your workers leave and form their own successful companies – and do you encourage them to do so? Do you have a good reputation for promoting people up through the ranks? A Wharton School study found internal promotions cost less and display better performance than external hires. If you have a poor track record of internal promotions and few former employees succeeding on their own, then you’re probably the type of manager who holds your people back. You should be training your people to be able to leave you, but then giving them reasons to want to stay.
If you find yourself exhibiting the traits of a bad boss, you should take immediate corrective action. Surveying your employees anonymously about what they would and would not change about your company will give you some clarity on what areas need the most work. No one is perfect, of course, but you can make a commitment to eliminate bad habits and implement good ones. If you are persistent and make a genuine effort to incorporate good leadership consistently, you’ll improve as a manager over time.