Leadership Caffeine™—Ten Annoying Habits that Irk Your Employees

image of a coffee cupLast week, I spent some time in a post offering guidance on strengthening your performance as an employee. This week, our focus returns to the individual at the top of the food chain. If this happens to be you, your team will thank you for spending a few minutes perusing the list below and kindly stomping these bad habits out of existence.

Ten Annoying Habits that Genuinely Irk Your Employees:

1. Finding the problem in EVERYTHING. Criticizing constantly isn’t coaching. One tactic builds and the other bullies. Which one do you use?

2. NEVER providing positive praise. When it’s earned, you need to give it. No one cares that you don’t thrive on the occasional positive reinforcement, most other people do. And no, it’s not just because they’re needy.

3. STRUGGLING to make a decision…any decision. Yes, there’s risk in every decision, but frankly, you’re holding your team hostage while you spend most of the time of your life trying to make up your mind.

4. LEADING round-the-table status meetings. OK, this is my pet peeve, but I’m still looking for more than two people on the planet who like these interminable and potentially fatal meetings. If you’re going to hold one, make it worth everyone’s time. Live, round-the-table status updates don’t promote communication, they cure insomnia and promote exploration of alternative employment or careers.

5. FAILING to pay attention to the work of the people who are working for you. We know you’re busy. Just once in awhile, gin up some genuine curiosity and interest in what your team members are doing. It’s a great way to show respect. Showing respect is a great way to gain respect.

6. CHANGING direction, but forgetting to tell us you changed your mind. It’s the boss’s prerogative to change her mind, but if you’re that boss, make certain to tell someone you changed your mind (and why), or, you’ll leave the team hopelessly confused.

7. MAKING your team members walk on eggshells around you. If people have to walk on eggshells around you, something is wrong. It’s a guarantee that no one will shoot straight on the big issues, or, bother to tell you when you have no clothes.

8. DELIVERING dump-truck feedback. Your employees know this by the sound of the dump-truck backing up and the smell of the manure about to be heaped upon them in the annual performance review. Quit saving up constructive feedback for delivery at a future date. Like fish and houseguests after more than a few days, the big blob of old feedback stinks!

9. APPLYING DOUBLE STANDARDS for star and poor performers at the expense of everyone else. Yeah, everyone’s watching and they all see your double standards in action. Don’t preach accountability unless you’re practicing it fairly and evenly with everyone, including yourself.

10. HOLDING EVERYONE HOSTAGE in a perpetual state of crisis. At about the third consecutive crisis in the month, everyone’s figured out that it’s a method you use to motivate. Newsflash, it doesn’t work.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Read the above list carefully. Now, cut it out. All of it. Now.

More Professional Development Reads from Art Petty:book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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By | 2016-10-22T17:11:18+00:00 October 20th, 2013|Leadership, Leadership Caffeine|4 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Bryan McGowan October 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Art nailed it again. I especially relate to the perpetual crisis manager (item 10). Assuming you’re reasonably competent, don’t blame yourself if you have a manager who can never be satisfied by the work you do. Be assured that other higher-ups in your organization recognize these people for what they are. Why they don’t takes steps to correct this type of managerial abuse is another matter.

    • Art Petty October 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Bryan, thanks for sharing your wisdom. -Art

  2. Robert Drescher October 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Art

    Thankfully in life I never had a boss did all ten though I have known of several people that have had them. In the end they drove good people from their company, which often required them to hire two or more people to take their place.

    Four is one I especially hate, there has always been better ways to report and track status than the total time waster of having a meeting. Personally the fewer the meetings you have in life the better.

    But the whole list are attributes of bad management practice and a lack of management skill. Anyone in leadership should display any of them, but than many pf today’s leaders were never chosen for their management skills, which is unfortunate.

    • Art Petty October 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks Robert! Agreed. -Art

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