3 Signs You’re An Overly Critical Boss (And How To Fix It)

According to officevibe.com, 65% of people would prefer a new manager to an increase in salary. Yes, that suggests that six (and a half) out of every 10 people really can’t stand their boss.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Vineet Nayar discusses three kinds of poor supervisors: “the indecisive boss,” “the insecure manager” and the “all-knowing leader.” Regardless of which category a head-honcho fits into, each of these types can end up exhibiting overly critical behavior. Their actions demoralize staff members, and in turn, many employees would choose a new executive over a stack of cash.

However, some managers who struggle with being overly critical have the best intentions. In fact, they might be completely unaware that their employees see them that way. Here’s how you can tell if you’re too hard on your employees and what you can do about it.

1. Do you share why you’re hard to please?

Some managers are toughest on their best employees. They see great potential, and so they push them. They make a sticking point out of what they might otherwise let slide and provide more extensive feedback.

However, instead of reading this as a supervisor’s desire to see him grow, an employee may think others get approval more readily because of favoritism. He might feel like he’s always asked to redo his work because he’s furthest from the mark — which would leave him feeling frustrated and like his contributions aren’t truly valued.

The fix: Be transparent. If you’re criticizing an employee because you think she’s especially talented (and therefore have higher expectations), tell her. Then, instead of feeling like she has an impossible-to-please boss, she’ll know that she has a boss who believes in her, and that’s why the expectations are so great. This mind shift can be the difference between feeling frustrated and feeling motivated.

2. Do you know that good intentions aren’t enough?

So, you’re hard on your employee because you think it will benefit him or her in the long run. As well meaning as that may be, good intentions are not enough. In other words, if you’re constantly sending back work for not being good enough — regardless of your reasoning — your employee might feel like this person who contacted Fortune magazine for advice. “I was really excited to get hired eight months ago at this company…but my dream job has turned into a nightmare.” The employee continued, “The reason is my boss, who is never satisfied with anything.”

Advice columnist Anne Fisher responded by sharing tips for working with a “controlling perfectionist.” If you don’t want to be classified that way, you’ll need to start paying greater attention to your language — and your actions.

The fix: Even when providing criticism or trying to motivate an employee, you must speak respectfully. And if you are challenging someone because you think she can do more, you should be backing that up with growth opportunities and interesting, meaningful assignments.

3. Do you encourage two-sided communication?

Another time an employee can feel like his supervisor is overly hard on him is when his boss never takes time to listen. The employee has questions or suggestions, but his manager just shuts him down — which leaves him feeling like his boss thinks his ideas or concerns aren’t valuable.

Writer Sara Stibitz reminds us: “…strong leaders tend to be characterized by their strong opinions, decisive action, and take-no-prisoners attitude. These are important traits, but it’s equally important for managers to stand down and listen up.” If you haven’t honed your listening skills and are known for being defensive or critical when employees offer feedback, they could grow afraid to tell you what they’re really thinking — and that’s bad for business (not to mention your work relationship).

The fix: Practice active listening. Stibitz lays out do’s and don’t’s of listening to employees in her article; including remaining calm and truly giving your employee the floor to speak.

No one wants to be known as an overly critical boss — especially if you’re only trying to do a good job. Use the questions and tips above to do a quick self-assessment and course correct if necessary.

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Source: mashable.com