When it comes to bosses, over the decades, I have worked for/observed a whole bunch. I think the hard-to-read bosses are the most troublesome. They come in three varieties:
Only Positive – You know you aren’t perfect, so how come this boss won’t tell you how you can improve, or what didn’t go well in that last project. Then, when performance appraisal time comes, this is the boss who constantly delays and eventually skips giving you one. On one hand, it is nice to never be criticized, but you know you are missing some personal development insights.
Only Negative – I like this boss better than the “only-positive” boss. You learn and grow, but it can be emotionally tough at times. Especially when you know you did something well and the boss ignores it. Maddening!
Say Nothing – This is probably the worst type of boss. You get no constructive feedback and no positive strokes when you do well. You just get to do your job. This is also the boss who is usually always too busy to talk and rarely walks around to casually find out what is going on and chat about things.
Here are two tips so you don’t become a hard-to-read boss:
1.) Regularly review with each of your direct reports what is going well and what is not. Make sure time is allotted on a regular basis, like every two weeks or so.
2.) Initially serve up your feedback as observations and ask the direct report to give you his or her assessment. It is surprising what you sometimes learn if you listen carefully. Also, it allows you to confirm they really understand what didn’t go well and why.