6 Ways to Recognise a Really Bad Manager
Managers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Unfortunately, not everyone has had the benefit of obtaining the necessary training to lead a team. Many bosses just do it because, well, they have to. When interacting with staff, it’s often their personalities that can dictate how they deal with their team.
Do you recognise any of these unhappy management traits?
The People Pleaser
Cast your mind back to Michael Scott from The Office and you will instantly recognise the type. People Pleasers have a deep insecurity and an ingrained desire to be liked by everyone they work with. Uncomfortable of exerting authority, they tend to avoid conflict and unpopular decisions preferring to be everybody’s friend.
As a result of their vague, noncommittal and ultimately ineffectual leadership style, no one really knows where they stand, who is held accountable, or if any progress is actually being made. The danger with this type of management is that the strongest personalities in the team will simply take over and make decisions instead without being held in check.
The Micromanager is a perfectionist and control freak who wants to be involved in everything. No detail is too small, no activity too mundane, and no decision too minor for him/her to step away. The need to micromanage stems from a firm conviction that the manager is the only person who can do the job properly.
This distrust displayed towards anyone else’s skills and decision-making abilities makes the Micromanager a hard worker, but one who finds it hard to delegate. Often, these are people who have been promoted within the organisation, rising from functional/technical roles to managerial positions where a little more overview is required – and they’re struggling to stand back from the day-to-day detail.
The Seagull Manager
You’ve no doubt heard the analogy: he flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and flies off. The opposite management style of a Micromanager, the Seagull Manager pays takes no interest whatsoever in the daily running of the project. He’ll be there at the beginning with a vague brief, but then is unavailable for long periods until he drops in at short notice and criticises everything and everyone for doing it all wrong.
Communication skills are not the Seagull Manager’s forte; This manager expects other team members to interpret his unclear directions correctly (perhaps using mind reading skills?) and are flabbergasted and highly critical when this approach doesn’t achieve the desired results. Projects tend to succeed in spite of the manager, usually involving superhuman efforts and oodles of goodwill by the team.
The Screaming Toddler
This is the boss who throws a tantrum at the slightest problem. If anything goes wrong at all, however trivial, it’s a complete disaster. From forgetting to put sugar in his coffee to losing a major client, it’s always the end of the world. Shouting has become a habit.
Somehow, this type of manager lacks the ability to differentiate between what’s a small deal or a big deal. What’s worse, the verbal explosion will always be aimed at someone in the team, possibly even the entire team; the perceived ineptitude is never the boss’ fault.
Fear is the overriding emotion here. The team has to operate on the basis of second guessing their boss’ mood and make sure every detail is 150% correct to avoid a full-volume verbal dressing down.
The Best Friend
When you spend every working day with the same people, it’s hard not to develop a bond with them. But what if the line between professional and personal friendship is crossed? The Best Friend manager knows no boundaries, and will offload personal problems without hesitation, expecting individual staff members to manage his emotional state of mind.
This is incredibly draining on team members. When the boss’ bad day becomes your bad day, and their private troubles become your troubles, you take on the extra role of sounding board or and counsellor, which certainly won’t have been in your job description.
The Mushroom Manager
Another appropriate image: keep them in the dark and feed them manure. Another control freak, the Mushroom Manager will divulge information on a ‘need to know’ basis only. Project or company goals are hazy, budgets are kept under lock and key, and top down sharing of information is restricted.
Whether out of a desire to further their own careers or because their mantra ‘knowledge is power’ leads them to see anyone in the team as a potential threat, when a mushroom manager is in charge, communication channels between employees and manager are deliberately kept to a minimum. There may be a chosen ‘manager’s pet’ employee who is given access to insider information along with the best jobs, but the rest of the team is effectively ignored.
If you are ever in a management position, don’t forget this list of bad managers and avoid these same pitfalls.