Bad management can kill good businesses. They can disrupt workflow, damage teams, and cause good employees to leave. They can be a barrier to employee engagement and company performance.
A recent worldwide Gallup poll pegged the number of employees that are not engaged in their work at 87 percent! The most cited reasons are poor management and bad managers. Teams with poor levels of engagement are less productive and have a tendency to be less loyal. That leads to employee turnover and poor work.
If you see poor managers in your organisation, you need to do something about it. The first step is recognising the habits that demonstrate poor management skills. Not surprisingly, bad managers have a lot of things in common. Here are the top seven:
1. Have Poor Communication (And Listening) Skills
A lack of communication skills can override everything.
One of the most critical tasks managers have to do is explain the goals and work with team members on ways to accomplish those goals. When goals are exceeded, they need to show their appreciation to the team. When the team falls short, they need to provide training and coaching to help them improve.
Bad managers often lack the ability to articulate the vision and explain team goals. They practice “one-sided communication” rather than a dialogue. They may ask for feedback and believe this demonstrates that they are open-minded. However, the best feedback in the world is meaningless if the recipient is not really listening.
This often manifests itself in poor decision making. Because they don’t listen to other team members, they often ignore important information in making decisions.
Another example of poor management skill is the tendency to micro-manage others. Nobody likes it when a boss is breathing down your neck, or constantly checking up on you. Micromanagers tend to think that nobody can do the job better than they can. They may display an almost obsessive-compulsive behaviour in the workplace.
The flipside can be just as big a problem. If managers distance themselves from the work product and ignore what’s happening on a daily basis, this lack of engagement on the part of the manager can be as troubling as micromanaging.
3. Play Favourites
When employees perceive someone gets special attention or gets away with poor performance because of their relationship with the boss, it can be destructive.
4. Confuse Fair With Equal
You can’t discriminate in the hiring process. You can’t discriminate in the workplace. Age, Disability, Race, Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation are all protected under law.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to treat everyone equally. In the workplace, you need to treat people fairly. Someone that does sub-standard work doesn’t deserve the same level of flexibility or accolades that a top performer does. Poor managers often make the mistake of treating everyone the same. This can be a de-motivator for top performers.
5. Always Find Something Wrong
No matter how good something is, managers with poor management skills will always find some flaw. Instead of allowing team members to feel good about their work, they quickly jump to the problems.
They may have unrealistic expectations to start. They tend to take credit for the team’s success, but always blame others for failure (rather than themselves). If it’s not the team’s problem, they find another victim: the competition, the economy, the government, or something else.
This leads to a profound sense of employees that their work is not valued or does not make a contribution to the overall success.
6. Motivate By Fear
They may yell or lose their temper in the office. They may be manipulative, pit employees against each other, or humiliate employees in public. These bad management traits can show up at any time, which keeps employees constantly trying to avoid saying or doing anything that might cause an eruption.
This means problems sometimes are hidden from managers because of fear of retribution.
When these outbursts do happen, bad managers rarely apologise even when they know they have stepped over the line.
7. Have A Lack of Self Awareness
Self-awareness is a critical skill for strong managers. Understanding how your team perceives them, regardless of what they think, is one of the keys to good management. Poor managers are amazingly unaware of their lack of skills.
Poor managers are rarely introspective. They blame others instead of analysing their role in situations. They don’t feel the need to improve their skills or ask themselves what it will take to get better. While this “soft skill” may not seem like a big deal, it is. There is a direct correlation between self-awareness and overall performance.
Why Employees Quit Jobs
These bad management habits are a major factor in people leaving jobs. In fact, a survey of 1,000 employees ranked the impact of bad managers on those who quit. Here’s what employees said they hated about their bad boss:
- 63% The boss takes credit for their work
- 62% The boss doesn’t trust me
- 58% The boss doesn’t care if I’m overworked
- 57% The boss doesn’t advocate on my behalf for a raise or promotion
- 56% The boss hires or promotes the wrong people (Favoritism)
- 55% The boss doesn’t have my back if there’s a dispute
- 54% The boss fails to provide the proper direction
- 53% The boss micromanages me
- 53% The boss focuses more on my weaknesses than my strengths
- 52% The boss fails to set clear expectations
Good Management Skills Can Be Learned
Poor managers may display some or all of these habits. The smart ones will be able to change their behaviour with coaching.
Why are so many managers unequipped for their job? For many, it’s not necessarily their fault. Most managers have risen in organisations by demonstrating strong performance in their previous positions. Then they become a manager and have to use a whole different skill set. Being good at one thing often leads to bigger opportunities, but as a manager, they do less of the kind of work that got them the job. Unfortunately, most never get the leadership training and management training they need to develop the skills they need to lead.
Here’s the good news: these skills can be learned.
Leadership And Management Training
Recognising managers that are struggling and getting them help is the first step. Leadership training and management training can help them stop bad habits and replace them with positive ones.
It makes a difference. That same Gallup poll quantified the impact of a good manager vs bad manager by looking at the 13% of employees that said they were highly engaged at work. Companies with a preponderance of these engaged employees outperformed peer companies by 147 percent in earnings.
Food for thought.