A guest post by Meredith Wood, Editor-in-Chief at Fundera.

No manager or business owner wants to be disliked by their employees, but there are a myriad of ways that managers inadvertently alienate and exasperate their team. If you find your team acting sluggish and unmotivated, you might want to look at your own behavior as the potential underlying issue.

Read on as we take a look at some of the managerial behaviors that are most likely to engender scorn from the team, and what you can do to avoid becoming a problem leader.

1. You Micromanage

When you’re a leader, you have a vested interest in making sure that your team accomplishes their goals. Their successes reflect well on you, and their failures can paint you in a poor light and have a negative impact on your business, so it’s natural that you should want everyone on your team is to do their best work.

However, when your interest in your team’s work crosses the line from supportive to micromanaging, you can quickly demotivate and annoy your employees. If you’ve hired good people, you should have confidence in their ability to do good work.

Establishing concrete check-in times, like weekly one-on-ones with each of your team members, can keep you from micromanaging on a daily basis but still give you enough oversight to intervene if it seems like someone might need your guidance on a given task.

2. You’re Not a Great Communicator

As a leader, a large part of your job is communication: outlining expectations and setting goals, discussing the scope of each team member’s role, establishing a clear course of action, and sharing the big picture vision for the company to motivate your employees in their day-to-day work.

Poor communication can, at best, lead to inefficiencies as team members try to decipher roles or expectations and at worst can create an atmosphere of chaos and fear when employees feel they’re being purposefully excluded from projects or the company’s larger mission.

If you need help in this arena, consider picking up a book like The Manager’s Phrase Book or looking into classes from an online resource like Coursera or at a local institution to help you become a more effective communicator.

3. You’re an Attention Hog

Sure, you’re the boss and a key player in your company’s success, but you can’t do it alone. Any success that you achieve is because you have a stellar team backing you up, and you need to be willing to share the glory.

Giving a big speech at a conference? Thank the team members who helped you write and edit the presentation. Being interviewed by a publication for an event you organized for your company? Be sure to give a shout-out to the members of the planning committee. A little bit of recognition can go a long way to building trust and creating dedicated employees who will go to bat for you and the business.

4. You Don’t Respect Their Time

If you’re the founder or one of the high-ranking employees at a company, it’s natural that you’ll feel a strong sense of duty to the business and want to invest a lot of time in your work. And while it’s important to hold your team to a high standard in terms of work ethic, you need to be cognizant and respectful of commitments they have outside of the office.

The workforce is changing —and now more than ever people are expecting employers to respect work-life balance. When work demands begin to encroach on your employees’ personal lives, they’ll quickly begin to resent the person imposing those demands that are eating into their time. Instituting programs like summer Fridays, offering flexible time off, and being understanding when last-minute issues arise (within reason) can help keep your team motivated.

5. You Don’t Know What They’re Doing

There’s only one thing worse than a boss who doesn’t know what he or she is doing: a boss who doesn’t know what their employees are doing. You’re the one who’s going to be filling out performance reviews for your team at the end of the year, so you should have an understanding of what exactly each person is contributing to the team.

Even if you don’t understand how to do the work, you should have enough of a grasp on what the work is to provide guidance. Additionally, being aware of all of the responsibilities and projects that each employee has on his or her plate keeps you from creating an unsustainable workload for any one person.

It’s easy to get caught up in your own responsibilities and projects, but a large part of being a good manager is paying attention to your team’s needs. If you find that your employees are disengaged or antagonistic, take a look at what you can do to create a supportive environment that empowers them each to do their own best work. It’s the quickest way to earn their respect and deliver great results for your company.


Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief and VP of Marketing at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.