You recently realized that your employees hate you. Maybe you caught on to little clues, like they avoid you, tense up when you’re around, or can’t maintain eye contact when speaking with you. Or maybe, like some of my Los Angeles executive clients, people lodged complaints against you with HR or other managers shared feedback that people dislike you.
It’s never a nice feeling, to be disliked (or event hated). You could easily dismiss it as a personality mismatch or working with idiots. After all, you’re the boss, and your employees should just get in line and do their job. Who cares if you’re well-liked?
You should definitely care. There are concrete negative consequences to being a hated boss. Employee productivity and creativity suffers. Everyone (yourself included) becomes susceptible to burnout. This is bad for business, which in turn is bad for you. Also, on a more personal level, you might develop a bad reputation. This can follow you your whole career, impeding raises, bonuses, or transitions to a higher position in another company. If you want to continue rising in the ranks or maintain your position in the company, it’s more productive to problem-solve the situation.
There are seven things you can start changing to turn things around.
1. Be Consistent
Being inconsistent is a surefire way to drive people nuts and put employees on edge. That kind of chaos and inconsistency really starts to mess with people’s heads. How can employees be successful if what you expect from them changes constantly? They’ll always feel like they’re failing. No one likes to feel like the rules keep changing on them.
2. Praise Good Work
Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. Authentic praise can go a long way in improving relations between you and your employees. Just remember to give genuine praise. Empty praise and general platitudes won’t help. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, instead of just saying “good job on that presentation”, you can say, “You did a good job articulating why we should use this new program”.
3. Leverage Employee Strengths
Not every employee is the best person for the job task. Think about your employee’s individual strengths. Use that information to assign tasks, and your employees will be grateful. This gives them the opportunity to shine, and you’ll have a happy employee on your hands.
4. Encourage Feedback
Eliciting feedback from employees sends a strong message: I value your thoughts and ideas. Who wouldn’t like someone who demonstrated they value you? This doesn’t mean you have to get feedback on every little thing, but it’s nice to ask occasionally. You also don’t necessarily need to incorporate all of their ideas all the time, but you should listen to them with an open mind. Give it considerable thought. There might be a diamond in the rough waiting to be discovered!
5. Be Transparent
You don’t have to share every little thing with your employees. That’s not appropriate either. But don’t constantly leave employees in the dark. In the right situations, transparency builds trust. And trust builds better working relationships. So, instead of just shutting ideas down, take time to give context to decisions made. Provide constructive criticism so employees can grow and improve.
6. Own Your Mistakes
No one likes to work for someone who is always playing the blame game. Especially if the blame always lands on your employees. Earn the respect of your employees by owning your mistakes. Added bonus: this also sets a good example for them, so they’re more likely to own their mistakes, too.
7. Address Issues Sooner Rather than Later
It can be really uncomfortable talking about issues, such as hurt feelings and crossed boundaries. It’s easy to just ignore it and pretend things never happened. However, by avoiding issues, you allow them to fester. What was previously a small thing can grow over time and garner more power. And if multiple issues pop up over time, before you know it, you have a toxic environment. Better to just nip things in the bud and address it then and there.
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Need professional support to turn employee relations around? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she helps executives thrive.