It’s a common conundrum: Everyone’s had horrible bosses, yet everyone thinks that they’re a fantastic boss–and that their team loves working for them.
The math says, therefore, that no one is actually the best boss all the time. Most of us, unless we’ve specifically worked on our team skills, can be horrible bosses sometimes.
It’s always a good idea to consider your employees and make sure that you’re doing a good job as their team leader. After all, they may not be able–or willing–to tell you if you just ask them face-to-face.
Look for these six signs to determine whether or not you’re a good team leader:
1. You’re Always Scrambling To Catch Up
While it’s true that employees are always responsible for their own behavior, it’s also true that it’s up to a boss to make it easier on them. You need to stay organized yourself so that you can pass out tasks and deadlines that are reasonable, understandable, and achievable.
If you’re always too overwhelmed with your own work to actually manage your team, then your team isn’t going to be well managed. They’ll know that, and they will not appreciate it.
Do this instead: Make your own organization a priority. Sit down with your planner and to-do lists and make sure that you have an action plan for your job that can translate into a direction for your employees.
2. No One Laughs At Your Jokes
If you’re constantly trying to make jokes in the office and no one is laughing, it’s quite possible that your jokes just aren’t funny. It’s also possible that they are offensive in some way.
Humor is trickier than people think, and unless you are very familiar with your audience, it can be hard to crack a joke in a business environment and have it be appreciated.
Do this instead: You’re better off keeping your manner calm and sincere. Let your employees be funny.
3. Your Team Is Never On Time
Barring other complications, getting to work on time regularly is a function of employee morale.
Everyone has a day or two where they’d rather hit the snooze button a few times and roll into work with an excuse about traffic or public transportation. If your employees are doing this more often than not, stop before you just declare them lazy.
Do this instead: Think about whether or not the work environment is working for them. Do they feel important and supported? Is there something you could be doing better to make their workplace a more rewarding place to be?
4. Your Team Seems Bored During Meetings
Sure, some employees are more comfortable not making steady eye contact or need to doodle or fidget in order to concentrate, and allowances should absolutely be made for that.
But if you look around your team meetings and see your entire team looking bored, distracted, or irritable, something’s going on.
Do this instead: Knowing your employees includes knowing the difference between fidgeting to maintain attention and fidgeting because of boredom. If your team doesn’t care, they’re not doing their best work.
5. You Only Ever Hand Out Compliments
Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves, right? So more compliments are better.
Well, maybe not. In fact, while people do want to know that they’re doing a good job at work, they also need to hear about the places where they can improve. Studies have shown that constructive criticism, partnered with positive feedback, is the best way to get your message across.
Do this instead: Make sure that while you do tell your employees what they’re doing well, you also help them set goals for places to improve and even excel.
6. You Never Take a Vacation
You work hard so that your company can succeed, and that is admirable. But if you never take a vacation–you come to work even when you’re sick and you’re always the last one out the door–you’re setting an unhealthy expectation for your employees about how to manage their time.
They will end up overworking themselves and burning out–and so will you.
Do this instead: Stay home when you’re sick. If you’re feeling better, but aren’t 100 percent and are still contagious, work from home. Talk about the times when you’re out of the office for family or life-related reasons, and make sure your employees know that you’re interested in their lives in work-appropriate ways. Encourage your employees to go home when they’re sick, and take a vacation now and then.
Being a great boss can be challenging, but being a good boss isn’t hard at all. Looking for these warning signs and adjusting your behavior accordingly can move you a long way towards being a boss that employees are happy to work for.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.