7 signs that your employees detest you

Posted December 9, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

Lousy LeaderI read with interest earlier this week the story of Christiane Ouimet, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (aka, the woman in charge of protecting whistleblowers).  Apparently, Ms. Ouimet is a tad difficult to work with and some of her employees blew the whistle on her (love the irony in that).  The fact that 18 out of 22 employees resigned within a year under Ouimets tenure speaks to what I’ve pointed out in a previous post: a revolving door is a lead indicator of lousy leadership (in my opinion).  It got me thinking about other red flags that may indicate that your employees detest working for you.  Here’s my list (add your own):

  1. Your average employee tenure is less than 24 months… and saying that they’re Gen Y’s is not a reason for that to be happening.  You are the common denominator here… time to look in the mirror.
  2. In meetings, you’re talking 90% of the time and people seem to avoid making eye-contact with you (you may even catch them shooting glances at each other across the table… ahem).
  3. None of your employees drop by your office to have an “informal” chat…ever.  In fact, they seem to avoid you altogether.
  4. When you walk into a room, people stop talking. Earn bonus points if they look guilty and/or blush.  You probably  just interrupted their “all-about-you” slamfest.
  5. You spend a lot of time frustrated that “your staff” “don’t get it”… again, here’s the issue: YOU’RE the common denominator in that equation.  Once again… it’s time to look in the mirror.
  6. You throw a team building party and it feels more like a funeral service… if the last thing you want to do is hang out with your staff socially, chances are, they’re feeling the same way about you. Having been at office parties that are “command performances”, there’s nothing worse than standing around with coworkers as you clutch desperately to your glass of wine and try to make small talk.  Yuck.

And finally, probably one of the most clear ways that your staff may detest you comes down to your own view of yourself.

#7 – If you continually think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably suffering from a high degree of hubris. I blame the profs at MBA schools (and frankly any other credential pushers) for this one.  When you are pumped into believing that you are a brilliant leader and don’t need to work on yourself for the rest of your life simply because you spent $80,000 on an advanced degree… you’re in real danger of choking on your own delusions of significance.  The greatest and most successful leaders that I’ve met over the past decades are, above all other things, humble.

Certainly, all of these things separately don’t mean your staff consider you the Devil incarnate… maybe you’re just having a bad day.  But if you can put a check mark consistently beside more than 3 of the items on this list (and I’m being generous saying 3, it should probably be 1), maybe it’s time to get some coaching help.  Leadership is such a wonderful opportunity to do something great.  Don’t be a lousy leader.

Happy leading!

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  1. Well said, sounds like you had some great insight ;).

    I do find it interesting that most often it’s the leaders who win “most…” (eg. successful under 40, successful woman leader, intriguing leader) that are really more deserving of “most detested.” And often, they work for the Top 50/100 companies in Canada, etc. Reminds me that awards mean pretty much nothing. As I’ve said many times, actions speak louder than awards, especially when your Most Successful Under 40 leader throws you under a bus.

    • LeaderTalker says:

      Well, I’m always skeptical about those awards programs, having had a front row seat at one of them. And, in thinking about it, there does seem to be a difference between some of the people who’s win on the backs of a company sponsorship vs. someone who gets nominated by their peers. There are some amazing Top 40 under 40 people that I know personally, and they are awesome… I’ve also met some others that are jerks (but they’re awesome at managing up, which I think is part of the reason why some of these people still manage to have great careers). The thing about the Ouimet situation is that she had a doubly whammy – horrible leadership AND wasn’t delivering results. I wonder if we’d be hearing about an investigation if she’s delivered amazing results and was still a lousy leader. My guess is, probably not. We’ve said it here again and again… until organizations start evaluating leaders on both sides of the balance sheet – what gets done AND how it gets done – abusive bosses who drive results will be allowed to run rampant. And that’s my soapbox lecture for today. 😉