5 Habits of Bad Managers

Some people are simply not cut out to be managers.

Or to put it another way, there is something about good managers that makes them what they are. It may be hard to describe, but we’ve all had that boss that drives us to go the extra mile – without making it seem like a chore. The boss who we stay late for, the boss we go to with our problems and the boss who seems to take a genuine interest in our careers and us.

Then there are the other guys.

Like I said, some people are just not cut out to be managers. But some of them have just got into bad habits. They can be good managers, they have it in them – but maybe they’ve started out on the wrong foot and they don’t know how to change.

Here are 5 of the worst habits of bad managers. If you’re in a management position already, read on and see if any of these ring any bells – if so, it might not be too late to change.

good managers

1. Bad Mangers are Always Cleaning Up

When they are first appointed to a new position or take over a new team or department, the new manager’s first order of business is to point out all the mistakes of their predecessor.

After they’ve pointed out all the fatal errors that the last manager made, the next step is, naturally, a time frame of how long it’s going to take to clean up that mess – this could be quite a protracted period.

Even when this clean-up period is supposedly over, the bad manager will often incite the ghost of their predecessor to explain mistakes – months or years after they’ve taken over their position.

Turns out cleaning up is just a smokescreen to cover their behind, and pin the blame on someone else. We can see through it, so stop doing it.

2. The Bad Manager Knows it All – Even when They Don’t

A habit that bad managers often pick up is to never take the advice of the people who work under them. In particular, this habit can be unwittingly acquired by staff who have been at the company for a while and have risen up through the ranks.

They can be reluctant to listen to ideas presented to them by staff under their management. The thinking goes along the lines of “how could they know how to do this better than me” – I’ve been here for years and they just got through the door!

This kind of thinking is dangerous, and can promote stagnation in a company. After all, why would lower level staff even try to innovate or improve systems and operations – if their manager is simply going to swat their suggestions aside?

Don’t feel threatened by the staff you manage – instead encourage them to think independently and offer advice when they feel it could be helpful. It will make you a much better manager than one who slams the door in people’s faces.

3. The Bad Manager is Too Emotional

In my career I’ve managed quite a few people. I’ve tried my best to be the best kind of manager to them, and broadly speaking I must say I feel like I’m an outstanding manager.

Ok, maybe I’m a great manager.

… well, I’m ok.

One time that I failed badly was because of the one thing I count as my worst habit – to get too emotional. This came to a head one stressful day when I snapped at a junior co-worker and made them cry.

That should never happen, and let this be the golden rule of this list – bad managers treat staff poorly, and it is a habit they can get into just as easily as any of the others on this list.

But it is one habit that must be broken. Every employee has the right to come to work and be treated with respect. A bad manager doesn’t recognize this, and frankly doesn’t deserve to be in the position. They must keep their emotions in check at all times, and never take out stress or bad news on the people they manage.

4. Bad Managers are Always Busy

There’s nothing wrong with being busy – but it depends what you’re being busy with. A former management colleague at an old job was always busy – so busy that they couldn’t tackle the day-to-day tasks of their job.

They passed on these tasks to their underlings, who had to take them on in addition to their own duties.

In the end, it turned out they weren’t busy at all – quite the opposite. They didn’t know what they were doing, and covered for that by pretending to be busy.

So get out of that habit fast! Don’t cover up your ignorance with busy work and rearranging your diary and e-mail inbox all day.

If you need help – ask for it!

Related: The importance of psychology in business

5. Bad Managers Only Look Up

A terrible habit for a bad manager to get into is to only look upwards. Whether this is to shareholders, to the board or to their own immediate manager, the bad manager only has eyes for them.

Yet whilst they are peering up the greasy pole all beneath them is an ignored land lying in chaos.

There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. A good manger however must mix ambition with the knowledge that they must also manage in the here and now.

Don’t get in the habit of ignoring your responsibilities to plot your next move upward. The best way to get the attention of those above you is to work well with those under you.

Impress with your actions by being a good manager!

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