Are You a Bad Boss?

February 15, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — When the number of employees Matt Kaplan managed at a lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson mushroomed from six to 30, the school called in a management coach to make sure he was prepared. What he learned surprised him–his employees thought he was distant and didn’t trust their work.  “The biggest challenge for me was realizing I couldn’t do everything myself,” he says. “I had to learn to trust my team, which was a gradual process.”  Experts say many bosses are similarly clueless about their appearance to employees. Here are five signals you may be one of them.

1. Most of your emails are one-word long: It may be efficient, but many bosses don’t realize how curt a one-word email—even a simple “yes” or “no”—can be, says Barbara Pachter, a management coach and author of several workplace etiquette books. She calls it the “BlackBerry effect.”  “Managers have a tendency to be abrupt, especially when they’re answering emails on the go,” Ms. Pachter says. “It comes off as an invitation for conflict. A simple addition of ‘thanks’ goes a long way.”  Some managers craft even shorter emails. When Christina Marcus emailed an idea for a project to a former boss, he responded “Y.” Thinking he was questioning her idea, she spent 20 minutes crafting a response. Turns out, the “Y” meant “yes,” not “why.” ” Ms. Marcus eventually left the firm.

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