Tips and Tricks

July 16, 2018 By Casmin Wisner

7 Bad Habits (and Fixes) of the Highly Ineffective Leader

July 16, 2018

By Casmin Wisner

Read More from Casmin Wisner

July 16, 2018

7 Bad Habits (and Fixes) of the Highly Ineffective Leader

By Casmin Wisner
Public Relations Specialist

Chances are, you or someone you know has worked — or now works —remotely. Hybrid teams of remote and in-house employees are popping up all over the country. A 2017 Gallup report found that 43 percent of U.S. employees worked at least part of the time out of the office. It’s becoming the new norm in the workplace. And with the number of remote workers steadily growing, leaders are having to rethink their leadership tactics.

Motivating employees is no walk in the park in any setting, but when an increasing number of them are not physically at the office, all sorts of problems can crop up. A poor team dynamic could negatively impact not only productivity, but also employee morale. As a leader, it’s up to you to create a healthy dynamic.

Here are seven bad habits of ineffective leaders —so you know what NOT to do — and how to fix them.

Inconsistent communication

In a distributed team, it’s easy to forget those who are not in the office (out of sight, out of mind, right?). When you’re being pulled in different directions, even on-site employees may think they’re getting a cold shoulder from you.

  • Have a regular system and schedule for checking in with each person, whether remote or on-site.
  • Create both a physical and a virtual open-office policy so your team is comfortable coming to you with challenges any time.
  • Make sure the entire team is communicating through the same channels so everyone has full context, and utilize video conferencing (we have you so remote employees have a greater sense of inclusion.

‘Big picture’ disconnect

When someone doesn’t know how their particular role or project connects to the company’s goals and mission, they may feel like they’re just punching the clock. It’s tough to energize a team if they don’t believe they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

  • Cultivate a sense of purpose for the team and for each individual.
  • Help them connect the dots to the big picture by helping them understand the value of their role and their contribution.

Lack of feedback

Let’s be honest, we all need to feel validated and valued. Lack of feedback can lead to second-guessing and low morale among employees and is a sure sign of an ineffective leader.

  • Give each person the scoop on both the good and the bad.
  • Don’t assume everyone wants public praise; choose what suits each person best. (An introvert, for example, may not appreciate the public attention.)
  • Got negative feedback? Present it as an opportunity for growth.

Unproductive meetings

Meetings get a bad rap — and let’s face it, some of that is well-deserved. Consistently unproductive meetings tell your team that you don’t value their time.

  • If the meeting includes remote and on-site employees, have everyone jump on a video conference. You’re still benefitting from face-to-face interaction while the off-site people feel equally included.
  • Make the meeting interactive, and keep things moving with a structure and an agenda. And don’t forget to follow up with a recap of decisions and action items after the fact!

Lack of professional development

Learning and growth opportunities are an employee expectation now, especially for millennials, but some employers are still stuck in the last decade.

  • Provide coaching and leadership opportunities. One idea is to rotate who leads projects and meetings so everyone gets a turn.
  • Discuss each person’s goals for professional growth, and encourage them to pitch projects that fit those goals.

Weak team bonds

Harvard Business Review survey found that building trust is a challenge for remote employees. An ineffective leader is great at keeping it this way, resulting in bad office politics and a lack of collaboration, among other things. The leader’s role is to help create camaraderie.

  • Open a virtual “watercooler” with an app like Slack.
  • Make time for team building during meetings. It’s doesn’t have to be all work and no play!
  • Experiment with ideas like pairing up different people for rotating virtual lunches or coffee breaks.

Shaky personal relationships

Are you always focusing conversations on work? What you’re saying is that nothing matters but the bottom line. Can you blame your employees for lack of loyalty if you don’t know each other personally?

  • Get to know your team’s professional aspirations during regular one-on-ones.
  • During check-ins, don’t be afraid to talk about each other’s hobbies and families — you know, make some small talk. Show you’re a real person!

Habits are hard to break (or, at least, bad ones), but ineffective leadership habits will inevitably get in the way of your team’s success. Here’s a little tip: You don’t have to break these habits alone. Let the team help — after all, you’re part of the team, too. Be open and honest, and start setting goals together. You’ll see results faster than you think.