The Top 10 Signs of Bad Managers

Being a bad manager isn’t ONLY about being temperamental or a bully. Here are 10 signs that betray bad managerial qualities.

The Top 10 Signs of Bad Managers
Signs of Bad Managers

It takes a lot of time and effort to retain good employees. And it just takes ONE thing to make them feel trapped or to run for the door: a bad manager. So let’s look at some of the top 10 signs of a bad manager.

Top signs of a bad manager

  1. Is interfering and micromanages

Managers who ask for constant updates or try too hard to control projects only betray their own insecurity. Excessive involvement and interference by managers take away employees’ ownership, space, and sovereignty over their tasks. The constant pressure and tedium of giving updates also reduce employees’ efficiency and performance. This is why micromanagement is a sure sign of a bad manager.

2. Fails to provide constructive feedback

Another telltale sign of a bad manager is that (s)he shies away from the responsibility of evaluating and clearly communicating performance feedback to their teams. Not only does the lack of constructive feedback leave employees clueless; it renders them unable to figure out what they are doing right or wrong. Not offering constructive feedback is toxic and detrimental to any team’s growth.

Fails to provide constructive feedback
Fails to provide constructive feedback

Also read: How to Give Feedback to Employees for Triggering Change

3. Fails to practice empathy, mindfulness, and kindness

Bad managers are self-obsessed and care only for their well-being, leaving little space for the feelings of their team members. In such cases, the team must adjust to the changing moods and whims of the manager. This kind of toxic environment lacks compassion and makes team members suppress their mental health and well-being to please the manager. Lack of empathy is a clear sign of a bad manager, and it makes the work environment noxious, and in certain extreme cases, abusive.

Forces the team to fend for themselves
Forces the team to fend for themselves

4. Forces the team to fend for themselves

While micromanagement is a bad managerial habit, so is leaving employees to fend for themselves. Bad managers don’t step up in crucial situations to take responsibility for their teams’ mistakes or make their colleagues’ contributions visible at the leadership level. Basically, bad managers are unable to strike a balance between supporting others without being nosy or troublesome. They often expect their teams to assume too much responsibility and leave them feeling overwhelmed, causing resentment in the long run.

Also read: Workplace Violence and How to Prevent It

5. Plays favourites

Another clear sign of a bad manager is that (s)he plays favourites. Having a good equation with certain colleagues is not a crime, but bad managers take partiality to a whole new level by assigning tasks, crucial engagements and performance bonuses based on their personal likes or dislikes instead of merit or fairness. Eventually, team members lose their motivation or start behaving like the manager’s pets to obtain special treatment. This often leaves the team in disharmony and chaos.

6. Has tunnel vision or a bureaucratic style

Managers align the vision of the team with the organisation’s vision and relate to the bigger picture. Often, a bad manager focuses merely on getting the task done. Therefore, another classic sign of a bad manager is that (s)he has ‘tunnel vision' and an inability to connect the dots. There are also managers who have a bureaucratic style of working and who believe that communication should be top-down instead of two-way.

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7. Is unable to prioritise team members’ skills and interests

Bad managers fail to assign jobs or tasks to their team-mates based on the latter’s skill sets. They measure all team members with the same yardstick. Not playing to the strengths of the team can result in lowered performance and poorer mental health. Oblivious to this, bad managers treat people like machines, without realising that they, too, have interests, skills, capabilities, and preferences that should be considered.

Blames the employee
Blames the employee

8. Passes the blame

A common sign of a bad manager is that (s)he prefers to hurl accusations rather than fix a problem. Bad managers are quick to pass judgement on team members’ capabilities or skills and often expect the team member to take the burn of failure, should things go south. Instead of taking accountability for their team-mates’ mistakes, bad managers absolve themselves of any responsibility and look for scapegoats to pass on the blame. A bad manager is focused on who committed the mistake rather than how to solve it.

9. Is driven by a fixed mindset

Being overly satisfied in one’s career and having no risk-taking appetite are typical signs of bad managers. Bad managers like to do repetitive tasks and they force this mindset onto the team as well. However, this stifling of creativity causes boredom and stagnancy in the team as there is no scope to learn anything new. It is also detrimental to individual growth, team output, and the organisation’s progress.

Also read: 10 In-Office Games for Team Building

10. Doesn’t know how to say “No”

Operating from a place of fear, bad managers have trouble saying ‘no’ – whether to seniors, clients, or colleagues. A bad manager is a people-pleaser and gives in to the pressure tactics of seniors or clients, thus putting his own team in a spot. Not only does this create pressure to meet with unreasonable demands; it also demotivates the team because they feel that their boss doesn’t have their back. Bad managers do not stand up for their teams because they are too focused on earning brownie points for themselves.

In modern times, organisational expectations from managers and team leaders have changed. Companies want leaders who can take ownership, mentor their teams, and display courage and grace under fire. Therefore, any aspiring leader must steer clear of these 10 telltale signs of bad managers, and strive to become a leader in the true sense.

Are you an HR or business head, an entrepreneur, or a team leader? If the well-being of your team is a priority, Manah can be your go-to partner. Do check out our services:

Wellbeing Ambassador Programme

Wellbeing Assessments for Employees

Employee therapy and counseling

Wellbeing challenges for organisations.

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