Your goal as a manager isn't to be each employee's best friend, but it also isn't to be feared and reviled. Here are a few outward signs that may indicate your employees see you as a bad boss.

In addition to all of your achievements, you're sure that you're also a great boss. After all, your leadership skills have helped you climb the ladder of success. But some of the world's top companies succeed in spite of poor leadership, with businesses prevailing because of great products or concepts rather than motivated team members.

According to entrepreneurial counselor Michelle McQuaid, bad bosses cost businesses $360 billion in lost productivity every year. The stress caused by difficult supervisors can negatively impact a person's overall health and workplace morale, eventually driving them out the door. Since losing one employee costs a business tens of thousands of dollars or more, your business will eventually suffer financially if you can't keep employee loss at a minimum.

As a leader, it's tough to know how others see you, especially if your work keeps you extremely busy each day. In my article 10 Signs Your Employees Are Happy, I discussed some great methods to determine if you're doing a good job as a manager, but here are a few outward signs that may indicate your employees see you as a bad boss.

1. You Have High Turnover

Does it seem as though your staff has a "revolving door" feel, with employees leaving almost as soon as you've hired them? If so, the fault is very likely yours. Either you aren't taking the time to hire the right person for the job or your management style is sending them out the door. Whatever the cause of your low employee retention rates, it not only impacts your bottom line, it has a direct effect on the morale of the rest of your team.

Take a long, hard look at your staff and determine which employees have been with you for the longest. When your employees resign, is it with deep regret or do you tend to have dramatic exits within your organization? Once an employee is gone, it's also important to make note of any post-employment interactions. If you encounter a former employee at an industry event or in a personal setting, is that person happy to see you or does the encounter feel forced? A good boss generally hears from former employees over the years, whether in the form of requesting recommendations or referring business partners or potential hires.

Even if you have employees who have stuck with you for a long time, it may still not be due to your stellar supervisory skills. Some people will stay in a job for years when they're unhappy, generally due to loyalty, fear of the unknown, or reluctance to change. For that reason, you can usually tell quite a bit from the morale of your team members; especially those who have been with you a while.

2. You Hear Complaints

Complaints always seem to find their way to their subject. In an office, that subject is too often the boss. If you have a human resources person or office manager, this person can be a valuable resource in determining how your staff is feeling. Complaints will often be carried directly to HR, even if they're about your management style. The key is to weed through complaints that are a symptom of people simply resisting authority to find true issues with your own management style.

In today's open-office environment, it's difficult to keep gossip under wraps for long. Eventually you'll overhear snippets of conversation or you'll see workers gathered together to talk, with one occasionally glancing toward your office. While it's important not to fall victim to paranoia, it's also important to notice the overall mood in the office. If things seem especially tense after team meetings or when new assignments are handed out, it might be a good idea to find ways to boost morale.

3. Your Employees Avoid You

You say you have an open-door policy, but how many employees take you up on it? If you notice employees are walking wide paths around you, you may have an issue. Some bosses think true leaders should instill fear in their employees, but this type of work environment is considered a "culture killer." While you likely won't be invited to employees' houses on the weekend, your employees should see you as approachable.

Another telltale sign of problems is employee behavior during staff meetings and one-on-one interactions. Body language is a key indicator, especially lack of eye contact. If employees tend to avert their gazes when you speak to them or, worse of all, exchange looks with other employees while you're talking, you can bet you're making a negative impression. As a leader, you, too, can send the wrong signals through your body language. Work to let your employees know that you're approachable through the way you respond to their ideas and concerns, whether in a group setting or individually.

4. You Have No Idea How Your Employees Feel

As you're reading this, you may be thinking you have no idea how your employees feel. That, in itself, is a bad sign. One frequent complaint from employees is that their leadership is out of touch with what's going on within the organization. Team members take assignments less seriously when they feel management has no clue what goes on throughout the company on a daily basis. Additionally, individual employees suffer from poor morale when they feel unappreciated and unnoticed.

Performance evaluations and job descriptions are the perfect way to ensure regular communication with each member of your team. When expectations are outlined up front and supervisors provide feedback on how a worker is handling those expectations, each worker is aware management is watching. When an employee is watched, he feels more accountable for his daily actions and is more likely to want to do a good job to make a favorable impression.

As part of your exit procedure, terminating employees should be asked to sit down with a human resources manager and discuss the problems that led to the departure. If your business is too small for a dedicated HR person, consider having a consultant interview exiting employees privately and provide recommendations based on what is said.

5. You're Working Too Hard

Age-old wisdom states that if a manager is correctly doing his job, he isn't working hard; he's working smart. In fact, many managers work harder than most of their team members. But the long hours you're putting in every day should be related to growing your business, not managing daily operations. If you're doing other people's work because it's easier than constantly staying on someone else to do it, it may be time to look at your management style.

A good manager delegates work and trusts team members to do it, rather than standing over employees to make sure it's done correctly. This means sometimes you may have to accept the fact that your employees won't necessarily do things exactly as you would do them, but the end result is the same.


Your goal as a manager isn't to be each employee's best friend, but it also isn't to be feared and reviled. When your employees like you, they'll want to do a good job to help you succeed. Keeping morale high not only improves productivity, it also keeps the costs of employee turnover down and helps your business continue to grow and thrive.

What do you think? Is this something you can benefit from or do you have a few tricks up your sleeve that are just as powerful? Make your voice heard by leaving a comment below. Don’t forget to hit the share button if you know others who will find this post useful.

I.C. Collins ~ Author and Educator: Has One Simple Goal Improve a Million Automotive Sales Consultants Lives

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Solid advice, IC. if it's OK, I'm going to tweet it out mid morning tomorrow to the dealers who follow me and link back to your post here.

I always enjoy the articles that you post.here. How long have you been doing what you do?


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