6 Signs Your Employees Hate Working For You

Are you an unpopular boss? Here's how to tell.

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By AJ Agrawal


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're already a manager or supervisor, you're at risk for becoming estranged from your employees; that possibility just comes with the territory.

Related: The 6 Most Familiar 'Bad Boss' Types and What to Do About Them

But for many managers, that first promotion prompts a strange personality shift: They become distant and formal, focusing on policy and authority over talking to their teammates in an authentic, human way.

They forget that being a manager really means managing moving parts -- corralling activity and removing obstacles so the team can run at top efficiency -- it's not about managing people. If you're busy just "being the boss," there's a chance you're breeding resentment among those you manage.

"Your staff will be very adept at making [their resentment] a well-kept secret, because they will do everything to keep their job security intact," national workplace expert Lynn Taylor wrote in her book Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant.

Compare your own experience interacting with employees and the overall vibe of your team dynamics with the following signs your employees hate working for you. Are you risking your work relationships without even realizing it?

1. Colleagues don't volunteer to help.

If you find that employees are always leaving it to you to assign work or finish things yourself, it may because they are unhappy at work. Employees who enjoy their jobs and have positive work relationships are more likely to offer assistance without being asked to, even if only in the name of good old-fashioned brown-nosing.

If you've noticed your colleagues are not so quick to volunteer to work with you on a project or stay late to meet a deadline, it could be that they don't want to be around you and don't really care if that attitude causes you any inconvenience.

Related: 7 Signs a Great Employee Might Be a Bad Boss

2. They avoid you like the plague.

This could manifest in a lot of different ways, but the bottom line is that people flat-out don't like to be around people they dislike and will do just about anything to avoid having to be in that situation.

Employees may start calling in sick or using up their paid time off, or they could be showing up late more often, taking more frequent breaks or knocking off early. Less subtle clues could be things like their choosing to take the stairs when you're waiting for the elevator, or adjusting their schedules to avoid overlapping with your normal schedule.

If you've got an inkling people are ducking you, you're probably on to something.

3. There's no small talk.

If people can't converse casually with you, the reason could be that they don't trust you. You might notice that in emails or even casual conversation, you get exactly the data or response you asked for, and nothing else.

When you do ask to hear updates or try to engage in chatter, people seem to say as little as possible. They cut their sentences short, and you have to pull the conversation along; they report their goings-on and then shut down immediately.

You should be especially worried when you notice employees laughing and joking warmly with one another, but seeming to be tense and all-business around you.

4. Their body language is off.

Even employees who really want to bury their contempt for a bad boss will struggle to regulate all the body language cues that can signal hostility. So, if you feel that an employee's body language is always just a little off-putting, the reason could be because he or she doesn'tcare for you.

When people dislike other people, it is often difficult for them to make and maintain eye contact, or smile; it's also difficult for them to resist displaying negative body language, like eye rolls, crossed arms, fidgeting and physical distance.

5. They aren't being appreciated.

Quick question: When was the last time you thanked your employees for a job well done? Studies have found that up to 50 percent of workers would be enticed to stay with a company if they received more recognition, and up to 82 percent of employed Americans don't feel as though they receive enough recognition at work.

If you're constantly being negative, or always contextualizing successes with negativity (for example, "We just landed a profitable new client, but we're still behind budget this year!"), it's a safe bet your employees don't like you. Double "dislike points" if you're one of those managers who always finds a way to take credit for the team's ideas and soak up all the spotlight.

6. They're sabotaging you.

One of the most obvious ways your employees can indicate their resentment for you is by finding creative ways to undermine and sabotage you. This could manifest as employees refusing to look up from their work or respond when you say good morning or try to celebrate accomplished goals.

It could be colleagues ignoring company policy or rules, or refusing to share important information. Such actions could signify a team that hopes its manager gets caught being unaware -- and fails, as a result. If your team members aren't treating you with respect, it's probably because they don't respect you.

Related: How to Survive 5 Types of Toxic Bosses

That's when you need to take action to reverse this trend.

AJ Agrawal

Founder of Verma Media

AJ Agrawal is the founder of Verma Media, a marketing agency that focuses on emerging tech, like blockchain and AI, and on cannabis companies.

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