Help! My Direct Reports Hate Me!

July 14, 2014 - 4 minute read - Posted by

You did it. You were finally promoted to that management position you dreamt about for years. Only, according to your employees, you kind of suck at it.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You were once part of the gang. You went for group lunches, goofed off in meetings, and even snuck out early on Fridays. But now things have changed. You now feel about as respected as that boss you whined about in your first job at the local burger joint. No one wants to have lunch with you, and laughter comes to a stop when you enter the room.

You keep trying to be patient and try new approaches but instead all you can think about is “Why don’t they like me?!”

Well it could be for a lot of reasons. But here are some of the most common reasons your picture may be making the rounds on the company dart-board:

You discuss their work only once a year.

Remember how much you used to dread those agonizing performance reviews? Pretty demotivating right? Now you know how your employees feel. Employee communication is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Get rid of traditional annual performance appraisals that are top-down, management-driven, and uncomfortable. Opt for a performance management tool instead that is social, engaging, and user-driven. Make sure it also provides opportunities for continuous feedback to keep communication lines open.

Your door isn’t open.

Congrats on that corner office—but isolating yourself from your team isn’t helping your popularity. Consider sitting alongside your team. This not only creates a flattened hierarchal feel, but it also allows you to take part in workplace conversations you may have been kept out of. If you must have an office, leave the door open. And if you need to have private discussions, hold them in an external location, like a coffee shop. This way employees won’t question why they aren’t privy to your conversations.

You don’t know what employees are doing/working on.

You can’t have meaningful communication if you don’t have insight into what projects and tasks your employees are working on. There are plenty of tools out there that help with this. Invest in one that allows complete transparency over goals, projects, and timelines. Even better if it incorporates recognition features. The more you appreciate your employees, the more they will respect your leadership.

You don’t empower your employees.

Finding the balance between empowerment and accountability may be tricky, but micro-managing is the fastest way to frustrate your employees. Smart leaders know the key to employee happiness is to create an environment where employees manage themselves. With the right support and access to resources employees can take responsibility to get useful feedback, grow their skills, and improve their performance.

Oh, and if you think your popularity with your employees is meaningless, think again. Poor management is a leading cause for employee turnover. Can you and your company afford that cost?