10 Ways in Which Bosses Limit the Effectiveness of Their Staff

By Helen Battersby

What traits and behaviours by the boss limit the effectiveness of their staff and thereby their productivity, client satisfaction and profitability of the company? If you are a boss can you happily say you are not represented here? If you're an employee have you ever been frustrated by any combination of the following?

  1. Ineffective communication: At a basic level this boss ignores the staff, gives no direction or feedback. This boss expects others to be mind readers or be able to act upon poorly structured or ill-conceived ideas. The boss complains his staff is obtuse or wilfully disruptive.
  2. Inconsistent: Priorities shift from day to day so staff never know which projects to begin as daily shifts in direction and priorities undermine their efforts and enthusiasm. Some projects are started and never mentioned again. The boss complains things never get done.
  3. Indecisive: Staff are waiting for a decision they have no authority to make, and on which customer action depends. They have no power to make the boss accountable and don't know what to tell the customer. The boss complains nothing gets done without his/her input.
  4. Mercurial: Smiles like the proverbial Cheshire cat on a "good" day. Barks like a sergeant major on a "bad" one. Staff temper information according to boss' mood. The boss complains no one ever gives him/her a straight answer.
  5. Micro Manager: Trusts no one and is constantly "proved" right as staff perform tentatively knowing the boss is waiting to pounce on the slightest mistake. The boss complains the staff cover up mistakes and do not ask for help at the right time.
  6. Lily-Livered: Does not confront and deal with issues as they arise. Will say one thing in public and another in private. Non-performance goes unchecked whilst performers tire of taking up the slack. The boss complains about everyone (behind their backs)!
  7. Promise Breaker: Gets short term compliance by telling subordinates they are ear-marked for a particular promotion. Creates momentary loyalty which turns to disappointment and bitterness as promises are never followed through. The boss complains everyone wants something for nothing.
  8. Martyr: Doesn't delegate and is constantly under siege. Feels that allowing others to help is a dereliction of duty or an imposition on others. The team gets used to low expectations and stop offering to help and feel under-used and bored or no longer confident to stretch themselves. The boss thinks everything will collapse without her/him and often feels ill and stressed.
  9. Quiet but deadly: Staff learn not to disagree as they know from experience they will be demoted or "managed" out of the business. The boss ends up surrounded by "yes" people and without the checks and balances provided by empowered staff the company stagnates of eventually falls of a cliff. The boss thinks everyone is out to undermine him/her.
  10. Workaholic: Lives, breathes and sleeps work. In with the larks out with the owls and expects the same from all "serious" contenders. Life out of the office is looked upon as betrayal. Expects you to be constantly available. Staff compete to tell you how few days holiday they take. Thinking becomes jaded and presenteeism seeps into the work place. Productivity eventually drops as only automatons survive and remain. The boss thinks, why can't everyone be like me?

Helen Battersby
Good to Great Coaching Limited

Helen is an executive coach with a business background working for an international company in senior managerial roles including MD of a UK branch and CEO of a pan-european group of companies. She combines her experience and talents as a coach to help her clients define and achieve high performance.

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