Are You Turning Into THAT Boss? 4 Red Flags

We often hear that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. We all get what that means. But what does it mean for those of us who take on broader roles? As we rise through the ranks, we silently vow never to become THAT boss. You know the one. It’s the manager employees fear and avoid — the one they talk about in hushed tones or in private Slack messages.

How do you know if you’re morphing into the very kind of leader you swore you’d never become?

At a time when companies are struggling with an uncertain workforce, high turnover, and a lack of employee engagement, leaders must stay focused on talent retention. This means you’ll want to be extra careful not to become your employees’ worst nightmare.

But what kind of signals indicate that you’re the kind of boss no one wants? And how can you steer clear of this fate? Let’s take a closer look…

4 Signs You’re Becoming THAT Boss

1. THAT Boss Replaces Flexible Work Options With Rigidity

The pandemic dramatically changed our work environments. Now, after working remotely for more than three years, many leaders are eager to see an office full of employees. But some are moving too swiftly and going to extremes.

Rather than retaining some of the flexibility that became the norm when many of us were working from home, some leaders are intent on forcing employees to return to pre-COVID office standards. Yet according to multiple studies, employees prefer flexible work options. In fact, research shows that productivity and collaboration don’t need to suffer when team members work from various locations.

For example, according to The Hackett Group, professionals want to work remotely 60% of the time and in the office 30% of the time. This clearly indicates that employees want the flexibility to work on their own terms. This study also found that employees who can choose their work location are more engaged. Specifically, engagement increased among 58% of those with work flexibility. Also, these respondents indicated greater willingness to remain with their current employer, rather than look elsewhere.

Some leaders are concerned that employees who aren’t working in the office may not feel connected or engaged with their team. This has prompted them to implement hybrid work policies. But the Hackett Group found no change in collaboration or engagement when comparing hybrid and work-from-home models. In fact, respondents who are free to choose a flexible work model said they feel more connected with team members and with their organization’s values, mission, and culture.

2. THAT Boss Needlessly Cuts Pay and/or Benefits

Budgets are tighter — and inflation and economic upheaval aren’t making the situation any easier. In this kind of situation, leaders may be tempted to reduce compensation and benefits. After all, payroll is usually an organization’s biggest overall cost.

But unless your company is truly in dire straits, these cuts can be a serious morale killer. It sends a message that you undervalue employees. Even worse, it suggests that you aren’t willing to invest in keeping exceptional talent onboard. This can leave some of your most critical employees feeling overworked, under-appreciated, and frustrated. Ultimately, they may even become burned out.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that although salary is a key issue for employees, it’s not the only factor they consider when deciding whether to stick around.

According to recent Forbes Advisor research, 40% of employers say employees leave because they’re attracted to better benefits elsewhere. In other words, today’s workforce places a high priority on health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, mental health support, paid time off, and other employer-sponsored programs.

This may seem obvious, but as a leader, you need to ensure that your team’s basic needs are covered. This starts with fair, competitive pay. But if you also offer diverse benefits that support employee wellbeing, people will be much more inclined to stay onboard and do their best, even during difficult times. 

3. THAT Boss Doesn’t Show Appreciation

Don’t ignore the efforts of your greatest asset — your people. Attitude costs you nothing, and an attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward helping people feel they’re valued and they belong. In fact, workplace surveys consistently show that employee appreciation and recognition programs help boost productivity, reduce absenteeism, lift engagement, and drive better business results.

There is actually science behind this. Genuine recognition and appreciation meet employees’ basic psychological needs. This is why several studies equate consistent work recognition with higher pay in terms of providing a fulfilling employee experience.

We also see this in data at my company, CardSnacks. We offer electronic greetings and gift cards for holidays of all types. However, our business category is driven by ongoing employee recognition and appreciation, not just specific calendar events like Employee Appreciation Day or Administrative Professionals’ Day.

It’s easy to send someone a quick note or a gift card along with a heartfelt thanks. Even that small investment in time and resources strengthens your connection with employees in ways that boost their commitment and productivity.

4. THAT Boss Flubs Communications

Employees look to managers for leadership every day. Good leadership requires strong communication. Don’t just focus on your team’s mistakes and what hasn’t been done yet. Instead, speak with empathy, communicate clearly, and try to inspire others. As a manager, make it your mission to act like the person you’ve most enjoyed working with in your career.

Also, remember to maintain an even keel. Organizational life is a continuous cycle of highs and lows. Effective leaders know a steady hand is essential to navigate the storms of business life. If you create an environment where people feel they’re lurching from crisis to crisis, it won’t be long before valued team members start jumping ship.

So stay calm, pick the right words, and set the right tone. The better you communicate, the better your results will be as a manager, and the more people will want to work with you.

Don’t Become THAT Boss

No one needs you to be the worst kind of boss. Instead, you can choose to listen to your staff, show empathy and gratitude, and ensure that everyone receives compensation and benefits that outshine your competitors.

You can create a work environment that encourages your employees to be successful on their own terms. If you do this, I guarantee, you’ll never need to look in the mirror and see the boss you never wanted to be.

One-On-One Meetings: 5 Things Managers Should Keep in Mind

The success of any organization largely depends on the quality of the employees. Due to this fact, employers have always devised and will continue to look for ways to make their employees feel valued and appreciated. When they are happy, they will be at their best. When you make them feel included in the company’s plans, they will work as if the company is theirs. One of the ways employers show that they care is by holding regular one-on-one meetings with their employees. As an employer, you should consider this if you are not already doing so. Here are some tips.

Let it be a regular exercise

The needs and workflow of your team are what determine how regularly you should hold one-on-one meetings. Most organizations hold one-on-one meetings every three months, but it should depend on what works for you and your team. One challenge here could be different time zones, especially when some of your team members live on a different continent. So, it’s important to select a time that is beneficial to all parties.

The meeting is supposed to go beyond the employee’s on-the-job performance. It is an opportunity to connect with all of your employees individually. You get to know what is working for each of them, celebrate their successes, and find out ways you can be of assistance to them. Whatever format you want to adopt, meetings should be consistent.

Prepare to listen actively

The mistake most managers make during meetings with their employees is that they make it a one-person show where they talk the whole time and leave no room for the employees to say anything. The employees do most of the office work and as such should be allowed to give their own view about things in the organization. The one-on-one meeting should be a chance to hear them out and understand their concerns, plans, and aspirations for the job.

It is possible that there is a difference in first languages, especially if you are meeting your foreign employees online. You can use remote interpreting platforms to help bridge that language barrier. Whatever your employees are concerned about or dissatisfied with should be handled immediately. This will make the employee always look forward to another meeting since the experience is always rewarding.

Choose your words carefully

There are various ways of conveying the same message. It could be friendly and it could be done callously. As a manager, you need to be careful with your words–as words badly spoken can cause great harm to the psyche of the employee. Instead of using words like “failed” you can use “unsuccessful.” Instead of phrases like, “You are not performing well,” you can use words like, “You are doing a great job, but there is room for improvement.”

At the end of the meeting, the employee gets the message without a negative psychological effect. If you are giving your employee some additional tips on how to improve their work practice, then be specific and clear. The employee shouldn’t feel confused. For example, if you are talking about the development of a chatbot and you want to let them know about a specific aspect of the project process that you want to change, be direct and don’t beat around the bush.

Discuss growth opportunities

When employees don’t see opportunities for personal growth at work, they become unhappy and the effect is seen in the output of their work. This is why discussing growth opportunities with your employees is very important. Managers are in the most suitable position to empower their employees and create opportunities for them to grow. So, when you meet with your employees, don’t just talk about the past or present, talk about the future also. Ask them where they see themselves in the next few years and what bigger roles they are interested in.

End the meeting on a positive note

During your meeting with your employees, you will probably discuss work most of the time. To mix things up and keep things more casual, ask your employee about his family and what the employee does for fun. Make this part of the meeting as pleasant as possible and let it be what lingers on in the employee’s mind at the end of the meeting.

Final Word

It may be difficult for you to monitor your employees’ everyday activities or know how they are faring outside of work. One-on-one meetings help you as a manager to bridge this gap and get to meet everyone individually. See this activity as part of your core duties as an employer. Do not replace it with other activities you presume are more important. If you start finding reasons not to have these meetings, they may stop altogether–and this could have a negative effect on your team’s productivity.

How The Wrong People Get Promoted And How To Change It

Research reveals that companies consistently choose the wrong people for management roles. Here’s what you can do to avoid the same mistake.

Have you ever quit a job just to get away from a bad boss? If you have, it turns out you’re in sizable company. According to a April 2015 Gallup study, one in two U.S. workers have at some point in their career felt compelled to make that same difficult choice.

That the business world may be filled with managers who unwittingly drive their people away is at the heart of Gallup’s 50-plus page report “State Of The American Manager: Analytics And Advice For Leaders.” What the research reveals is that organizations consistently choose the wrong people for management roles, and pay dearly for it through poor engagement and costly turnover—and the inevitable decline in overall performance.

But Gallup also discovered what distinguishes the very best managers—new and truly groundbreaking insight into the talents, motivations, and practices of bosses who make workers want to stay.

Here are five of the most significant findings of the report:


Perhaps the most important—and disruptive—conclusion from the study is that too many companies have a flawed methodology for selecting people into management.

How? They base hiring and promotion decisions on an employee’s past experience, and then reward them by giving them an entirely different role. According to the research, at least 80% of the time this methodology backfires.

Getting the decision right in who you name manager and how you develop them is the most important decision any organizational leader can make.

“It is the rite of passage in most organizations that if you are very good at your job—whether it be in sales, or accounting, or any number of specialties—and stay around a long time, the next step in your progression is to be promoted to manager,” says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist. “But the talents that make a person successful in a previous, non-management role are almost never the same ones that will make them excel as a manager.”

The Gallup study states pay structures at most companies reinforce this career progression, and must be redesigned to ensure employees are given more than one path to earning higher compensation and prestige. According to the report, organizations back themselves into a corner when they tie pay to managerial status creating an environment in which employees compete for roles to which they’re not a fit.


Gallup studied individual managers at numerous organizations, and discovered those managers who most consistently drove high engagement, loyalty, productivity, profit, and service levels all shared five uncommon talents:

  • They motivate their employees.
  • They assert themselves to overcome obstacles.
  • They create a culture of accountability.
  • They build trusting relationships.
  • They make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and organization.

Gallup confirmed this combination of innate talent is so rare that it exists in about only one out of 10 people. They also believe another two out of 10 people have some of these five talents, and can become great managers with the right coaching and development.

Ironically, Harter is convinced that the most highly talented manager prospects are hiding in plain sight within organizations, and the use of some predictive analytics tool can help them make more informed hiring decisions. The rewards for doing so are impressive. Companies already employing these disciplines have realized a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, and 30% jump in engagement scores, the Gallup report notes.


Hiring the right people for manager roles represents the single greatest opportunity facing organizations today simply because of the upside it signifies. According to the study, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. When a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business unit, everything that matters to an organization’s long-term viability gets better.

Gallup has studied engagement since the 1990s, and has repeatedly found that companies with happy and committed employees outperform all others in terms of business outcomes including absenteeism, turnover, innovation, and productivity. Getting the decision right in who you name manager and how you develop them is the most important decision any organizational leader can make, the report stresses. The best strategies in the world will likely fail in execution without the highly talented managers in place.


Another stunning finding is that employees of female managers on average are at least 6 percentage points more engaged than those who work for a male manager. In fact, out of the 12 different questions Gallup uses to diagnose a person’s engagement, employees of female managers outscore male managers on 11 of those items.

Only one out of three workers has a female boss today, yet women leaders eclipse their male counterparts in many of the ways known to inspire high levels of commitment, initiative, and loyalty in 21st-century workers. They more consistently cultivate the potential in their people by creating challenging assignments. They praise and value people for their efforts and contributions. They take steps to foster a positive and cooperative work environment.

Women leaders eclipse their male counterparts in many of the ways known to inspire high levels of commitment, initiative, and loyalty in 21st-century workers.

In their 2013 book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women And The Men Who Think Like Them Will Rule The Future, authors Michael D’Antonio and John Gerzema note the skills required to thrive in today’s world—such as honesty, empathy, communication, appreciation, and collaboration—are widely regarded as being on the feminine side of human nature.

Gallup’s data suggests many of these same qualities have a significant and meaningful impact on driving engagement.


Accentuating the positive behaviors and traits in people proves to be a wildly more successful approach to driving engagement than a well-intended focus on mitigating weakness, Gallup says.

In a study of more than 1,000 random U.S. workers, nearly two-thirds, or 61%, of employees who felt they had a manager who honored and intentionally amplified their positive characteristics were engaged –- twice the national average.

Overall, Gallup has discovered that the managers—male or female—who routinely motivate the greatest employee engagement have an instinct for investing emotionally in their people. Workers describe them as being more human and relatable—someone who cares about them personally and with whom they can discuss non-work related issues.

These same high-talent managers also make communication a priority. They hold regular meetings and interact with each employee in some way every single day. Simply put, they make their people feel valued and connected which has the direct effect of sending engagement soaring.


With 70% of the working population admittedly disengaged in their jobs today, we’ve reached a crisis that’s not just harming organizational performance; it’s profoundly undermining human potential.

But we now realize there is a cure. If we accept the idea that every person working today deserves to have a supportive, caring, and effective manager—and we make that happen—the rewards will be simply inestimable.

A version of this post was first published on Fast Company.

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