As a manager, your staff will look to you for leadership and guidance on a daily basis. The way you act and the perception of leadership you create can set the tone for how they perform.
It's critical to consider how your staff reads your actions and behavior in the office. With the right mix of both, you can inspire confidence in your entire team. The wrong type of behavior can adversely impact them, making them unsure of themselves and leading to poor performance.
Here are seven manager characteristics that make employees nervous and stressed (and how you can go about changing the perception surrounding them).
Employees generally don't respond well to an inability to make decisions. It's a manager's responsibility to make judgment calls on a daily basis. If you're unwilling to do so or are perceived as a "waffler" on interoffice issues, it can cause stress for your team. A lack of consistency can be extremely frustrating as it creates an air of uncertainty.
The solution? Don't be afraid to make decisions and stand by them. Whether your team agrees or not, they'll respect that you at least came down on one side of the fence.
2. Unwillingness to listen
Leading a team means not just hearing from your staff for their perspective, but actively listening to their comments and concerns. Being a poor listener means either you don't give your team an audience to voice their concerns, or you're distracted when you do give them that audience.
If your team perceives that you aren't a good listener, one way to combat this is to always have a notepad handy to record your conversations in one-on-one meetings. This will create the impression that you're listening and ensuring you capture all the significant points brought up during the meeting.
3. Lack of collaboration
As your team's leader, decision-making abilities ultimately lie with you. You're in a position of leadership for a reason, so you should take the opportunity to make final decisions that lead the team in the direction you see fit.
But your decisions should be informed with your team's input. Poor leaders are ones that don't trust their team members to collaborate - after all, if you don't want their input, why include them on your team in the first place? Your staff will take note of your lack of collaborative spirit and may grow to resent you.
The fix is simple: when appropriate, consult your team for input. This could be in the form of meetings dedicated to making a decision or more informal, one-on-one conversations. Seeking their counsel will make them feel like an engaged, valued part of the team.
4. Poor temperament
Raising your voice, slamming your fist on a table, or any other expression of anger or annoyance can create the impression of a lack of emotional control. This isn't something you can afford to display when you're in a position of leadership.
Don't let anger control either your decision-making or your reactions. Letting your emotions get the best of you does not inspire confidence. If you do get angry or upset during the day, use anger management techniques - in private - to deal with your issue. Don't let your staff see you deal with it.
That doesn't mean you should hold back criticism or displeasure. But share it dispassionately, with an even-keeled demeanor, to show your team that you're a professional.
5. Negative body language
The majority of what we communicate to others lies in nonverbal communication. Having poor body language can make you look weak, ineffectual, angry, or upset. Some examples of negative body language include:
- Slumped shoulders
- Lack of direct eye contact when speaking to someone
- Shaking your head or frowning when someone's speaking
- Not standing when someone else enters a room
- Looking at the floor or your phone during a meeting
Be wary of your body language when in meetings or dealing with your subordinates - or anyone you deal with in the office, really. Shake hands, make eye contact, and smile upon greeting people. In meetings, sit up straight and be attentive. Resist the urge to slump in your chair or lean back. You give off the impression of an active, attentive manager who is engaged.
How you dress can also impact the way you're viewed. You don't have to dress like a fashion model, but having clean, unwrinkled clothes paired with confident body language can leave your employees feeling as if you're the right person to lead the team.
Employees don't like it when they view one team member receiving preferential treatment over another. It can sow distrust within the team or even worse, lead a team member to leave in frustration.
You don't have to treat every team member exactly the same - not everyone responds to the same motivational tactics. But don't offer perks or benefits to one member of the team without making them available to the rest of the team. If you do, be clear on why there's an extenuating circumstance. Transparency is the key.
7. Obsessing over trivial matters
You have a limited amount of time, energy, and attention to expend in one day. You can only focus on a certain number of issues in the office while you're there. There are some that should always require your attention. A good example is poor job performance. If you have an employee who isn't getting the job done, it's important to figure out why so you can improve.
But if a team member is otherwise performing well, obsessing over trivial matters such as isolated bouts of tardiness, taking sick leave, and minor dress code infractions creates the perception of a stickler for rules who isn't focused on your department's overall mission.
If an employee commits a minor infraction that doesn't inhibit their ability to do their job, let it slide (recurring issues may need to be addressed). This creates the impression of a boss whose focus is in the right place: getting the work done as completely, effectively, and efficiently as possible.
For more tips on how you can be an effective leader, contact us today!