The boss from hell


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Last week I received an anonymous email from a store staff. They said that their owner/manager, a regular reader of my newsletters is in their own words “The boss from hell.”

They shared some of their reasons for bestowing the title, and asked me to try to help them. I have to say I was intrigued. I’ve worked for some less than stellar bosses, but I never went so far as to ask for help from an outsider.

I ended up exchanging emails to learn more about what this person was doing to earn the label of boss from hell. I realize I was only hearing one side of the story, but even if only half of it is true, this owner/manager needs to improve.

It was an interesting email conversation, and I realized that even good bosses could learn from what this staff has been experiencing.

Here are five factors that can lead you to become the retail boss from hell, with a comment from an employee on each one. (I’ve adapted the comments to protect the innocent and the guilty.) I’ve also included my insight.

1. Always focus on what’s wrong. “I could do 99 things right and one thing wrong, and he/she will go straight to what I did wrong.”

2. Never pay a compliment. “I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been complimented in the last year. Even those compliments are followed up with what I did wrong.”

DF comment: These two go hand in hand. I think most owners and managers are always trying to improve their staff and store, but if you’re not careful you can come across as focusing only on the negative. And focusing only on the negative clearly creates a negative environment.

While I don’t believe in a magic feedback ratio, people do need to hear what they’re doing well, and receive feedback on what they can do better. A leader’s goal should be to deliver both so well the staff doesn’t even notice the difference between the two.

3. Get mad at your staff, but don’t tell them what’s wrong. “Honestly. My boss sulks and pouts more than my child does.”

DF comment: Sometimes owners and managers are under a lot of stress, and as a result can withdraw a little bit. Since the staff doesn’t know what’s wrong, they often assume that the person is mad at them.

Our job is to lead and inspire people through thick and thin. Sometimes, when the going gets tough, you have to set aside the issues and keep communicating and leading. If you do withdraw when you’re upset, you’re only making it worse. Keep the focus on moving forward and making good things happen.

4. Talk about employees to others. “I don’t know which is worse. When the boss talks to me about other employees, or wondering what he/she is saying about me to others.”

DF comment: Gossip can kill a team, and gossip by an owner or manger is a death sentence for teamwork and collaboration. I know, because I was guilty of this when I was a young manager. It’s an easy habit to quit. Stop! If you need to talk about others, talk to your spouse or your pet.

5. Won’t delegate anything, but then complains about having to do everything. “We’d be happy to help. He/she just won’t let us.”

DF comment: I worked for a manger like this. To this day I’m not sure if she didn’t know how to delegate or just wanted to do everything herself. But it did get old listen to her complain about her inability to take a day off. She could. She just chose not to.

We must delegate. Not only does it engage our staff and give them ownership in the business, it also frees us up to spend time developing our people and growing the business. But if you’re not going to delegate, don’t talk about how tired you are or that you can’t get a day off. Delegation is a choice. You just have to live (quietly) with the outcome.

My final thoughts: Any manager can fall into any one of these traps from time to time. None of us are perfect. But when they become a habit, or we’re engaging in several of them at once, we’re having a negative impact the staff and ultimately, store results. You also get labeled the boss from hell.

The good news is that anybody can start changing right now. That includes the good boss who wants to become an even better one.

So let me ask, are there any changes you should be making to be a better boss?

– Doug

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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