4 Sure Fire Ways to Alienate Your Employees


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I am sure we have all experienced an ineffective manager (also known as the bad boss) at one point in our professional lives.  The bad boss does exist and is still alive and well in many of today’s work environments.  Bad bosses drive good employees to your competition, keep under-performing employees in place and slowly but surely alienate customers and team members.  Based on my experiences, below are the top four ways that ineffective managers alienate employees.

1.  They apply the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality.

Ineffective managers do not lead by example.  Their behaviors do not support the mission, vision or standards for the organization or the department.  Bad bosses talk at their employees rather than with them.  They demand and command excellence without modeling the behaviors it takes for employees to be successful.

Effective managers know that the single most effective way to impact behavior is to be the role model and lead by example in all that they do.  Employees don’t always listen to what you say, instead they watch how you behave.  The effective manager understands that their behavior directly impacts the behavior of their employees.

2.  They only talk to employees when there is a problem.

The ineffective manager prefers to stay in his/her office, behind closed doors.  That way they don’t have to interact or deal with their employees.  The only time you hear from the bad boss is when you screwed something up.  Only then are they quick to communicate with you.  When an employee gets pulled into the office everyone on the team knows that he/she is in trouble.

An effective manager knows that consistent and performance based feedback is an on-going and necessary process.  They understand that employees learn from the things they do well instead of the mistakes they make.  The effective manager has frequent conversations with employees that balance positive as well as developmental feedback.

3.  It is clear who the “favorite” employee is.

The ineffective manager clearly has favorites on his/her team.  They often get rewarded with easier projects, long lunches, preferential treatment and can be found in the bosses office on the rare occasion that their door is actually open.  The bad boss does not hold these folks accountable and often excuses performance issues.

The effective manager does not have any favorites on the team.  They value each and every team member for the strengths and opportunities they bring to the team.  They share the work load and are consistent in their feedback and behaviors across the board.  You exceed the expectation, you get recognition.  You don’t meet the expectation, they will coach you.  The effective manager sees the potential in all employees and works with everyone to harness that potential.

4.  They consistently violate the core values of the organization.

Most organizations have standards and core values that apply to how they do business, interact with others and serve as the guiding principles for all that they do.  Bad bosses blatantly ignore the poster on the wall in their area outlining the core values.  Clearly those apply to everyone else and not them.  Their behaviors are in direct opposition to what the company stands for.  As a result employees are confused and become disengaged.

The effective manager believes in, lives and demonstrates the core values of the organization in all their interactions.  Again the effective manager knows that they must behave and model the expectations if they expect their employees to do the same.

I realize that these 4 examples only scratch the surface of how ineffective managers alienate employees.  We could probably write a book on 1 million ways to alienate employees!  What experiences have you had with a bad boss?  What would you add to the list?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jen Kuhn
Jennifer Kuhn is a talented, energetic and enthusiastic consultant, trainer and speaker. She has provided thousands of employees, coaches and executives with guidance while they work to enhance their professional skill development. Jen's approach has been hailed by participants who were initially skeptical or resistant. Her unique and non-threatening style wins over the most jaded employee that allows them to learn and grow within their organization.


  1. I literally just started clapping at my desk.

    Every poor manager is guilty of *at least* one of the above management mistakes. Well said, and great food for though. We should all be assessing whether we are practicing good leadership on a daily basis whether we are managers or not.


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