Are you a good manager? You might think you are, but your employees might feel differently, and if they're too scared to speak up, you could end up in a cycle where you're ineffective and they're miserable. That's why it's crucial to recognize the behaviors that make managers poor leaders. Here are a few habits to be on the lookout for.

1. Micromanaging employees

It's one thing to keep tabs on your employees' progress when they're given key projects or high-profile tasks, but it's another thing to constantly badger them for updates and interject your thoughts and opinions every step of every assignment you dish out. The latter will propel you into micromanager territory, and that's not a place where you want to be.

Man with angry expression sitting across from woman at a desk, and gesturing.


2. Criticizing employees in a non-constructive fashion

There's nothing wrong with giving feedback if it's constructive in nature. But when you criticize for the sake of airing grievances, you only end up making your employees feel bad, ashamed, or frustrated.

A better bet? Aim to offer actionable advice in conjunction with your criticism. For example, if you have an employee who hands in an error-ridden report, rather that bash that person for being careless, offer advice on how to effectively proofread and spot mistakes.

3. Yelling

We all lose our cool and raise our voices once in a while. But if yelling is your go-to setting whenever something goes wrong, you're likely to alienate your employees. You'll sound far more professional if you address whatever's irking you, whether it's a missed deadline or botched presentation, in a calm fashion.

4. Being stingy with praise

You don't have to dish out compliments when they aren't warranted, but when your employees do go above and beyond or do an exceptionally good job, you should absolutely acknowledge their efforts and successes. If you withhold praise for no good reason, your employees will draw the conclusion that you're impossible to please, and they might, in turn, stop trying.

5. Not communicating well

Some bosses expect their employees to be mind readers. Don't be one of them. If you don't communicate well with your team, you won't get the results you're after.

If writing emails isn't your strong suit, gather your team for a quick meeting each morning, or have everyone jump on a 10-minute conference call to hash out priorities and go over instructions. The key, either way, is to communicate clearly and identify the medium that best enables you to do so.

6. Playing favorites

Maybe you have a clear superstar on your team. But if you make that obvious, you'll demotivate the rest of your employees. Favoring one or two people is not only unwise, but also potentially unprofessional, so if you've been known to do it, nip that tendency in the bud immediately.

7. Not being available

As a manager, you're the one who's supposed to be there to support your team, offer guidance, and jump in when conflicts arise. But if you're never available to your employees, you can't really do your job the way you're meant to. Many managers aren't intentionally unavailable; rather, they're just not mindful of the fact that they're hard to get a hold of.

If you know that you tend to have a packed schedule, carve out some time for your employees via weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings. Giving each person on your team a 15-minute slot with your undivided attention could go a long way toward improving morale and output.

When you signed up to be a manager, you no doubt planned to excel in that role. But if you've been guilty of these habits, the opposite likely holds true. So don't let that cycle continue. Instead, take steps to change your attitude and behavior to be the best manager you're capable of being.