Sometimes the best way to find out if you’re doing a good job is to look at the opposite: the behaviors of bad bosses.

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Almost no one wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I’ll be a bad boss today.”

Yet a Gallup study revealed that 50 percent of U.S. adults surveyed had left their job to get away from their manager — and that managers account for at least 70 percent of variance in employee engagement scores.

If you’re wondering whether your team thinks you’re a good boss or a bad boss, check out the results of this recent BambooHR survey, conducted to obtain views of U.S. employees on their boss’s behavior. Here are the top 10 least acceptable behaviors for bosses, and the percentage who rated the behavior as “not at all acceptable” or a “deal breaker that would make them want to quit”:

  • Takes credit for your work (63 percent)
  • Doesn’t appear to trust or empower you (62 percent)
  • Doesn’t appear to care if you’re overworked (58 percent)
  • Doesn’t appear to advocate for you when it comes to monetary compensation (57 percent)
  • Hires and/or promotes the wrong people (56 percent)
  • Doesn’t back you up when there’s a dispute between you and one of your company’s clients (55 percent)
  • Doesn’t provide proper direction on assignments/roles (54 percent)
  • Micromanages you and doesn’t allow you the “freedom to work” (53 percent)
  • Focuses more on your weaknesses than your strengths (53 percent)
  • Doesn’t set clear expectation (52 percent)

As you read through the list, did you see any that fit your behavior? If your answer is “yes,” don’t worry. Almost no one is perfect when it comes to people management.

The key is to use your daily experiences to learn and improve your skills over time, so you can become the best manager you can be. That, and it helps to keep your sense of humor and ability to laugh at yourself along the way.

Your first step is to identify any of your own behaviors that could create negative feelings or behaviors in those on your team. Beyond that, here are five actions that will help you elevate your people-management skills:

Clearly define and communicate the vision and strategy for your group. This includes defining key objectives and initiatives, and then providing your team with regular progress updates so the group always knows where they stand.

Help employees feel connected to the goals of the organization. Work with each person to help him or her understand the role they play in contributing to the success of the organization. Help each employee create their performance objectives, determine how to best allocate their time and how to balance their workload.

Spend time with each employee. Being a good people manager also means being a good coach, so meet regularly with each person on your team for progress discussions and two-way communication.

Empower employees. Delegate challenging and meaningful work — and then get out of the way so employees can do their jobs and learn from mistakes.

Recognize great work. There’s a saying that people don’t quit companies, they quit bad managers. Take the time to provide meaningful recognition and rewards that reinforce positive behavior, increase employees’ sense of progress and keep them motivated.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at