5 Common Traits of a Bad Manager

5 Common Traits of a Bad Manager

A bad boss is one of the top reasons an employee leaves a company. It’s often stated that, “people quit bosses, not companies.” A toxic manager can not only make your life miserable, but they can also cost organizations a lot of money due to losses in performance, productivity, and engagement while driving turnover and attrition through the roof. 

There is an endless list of qualities that may make a manager “bad,” but there are definitely a few common traits that come up often when it comes to poor people management. Below, we cover five red flags to look out for in a manager.  

1. An Inability to Individualize Management Approach

The mission of any manager is to align people and resources, while providing support to ensure a team can hit their goals and accomplish their mission. Treating every single team member like they are just another cog in the wheel is a recipe for disaster. People are unique and the best managers will take the time to get to know their team members on a deeper personal and professional level and build trust. By developing these strong relationships, managers can tailor their management style to each individual and help communicate and coach in a way that is the best fit for each individual. The telltale sign of an ineffective manager is a person who becomes impatient when employees don’t fit a mold—they often lack a genuine desire to learn and take the effortless way out, offering a one-size-fits-all style.  

2. Unwilling to Lead by Example

The best leaders, ones with team members that will follow their charge into “battle,” who have cultivated passion and loyalty, always lead by example. Great managers are willing to roll up their sleeves, jump into the trenches, and help the team accomplish the mission ahead. Terrible managers often feel like they are too good to jump back into the game—or even worse, they lack the true knowledge of an organization's products and/or services to be an effective frontline employee. Whichever recipe they have, if your manager isn’t willing to get in on the work—they’re likely not going to change and will drive you a bit mad.  

3. Can’t Focus

This famed company killer can also be the detriment to many a team. Great leaders have a sharp vision and are effective in communicating the plan to get to the end goal. They plan each day and motion in a way that helps the team move towards it. Distraction can’t knock a focused team off of its tracks. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, exists leaders that change strategies and priorities often. Leaders that lack focus don’t necessarily exhibit the other traits on this list—they can be genuinely great people, but their lack of focus is not only going to hurt the performance of the company, it’s going to tear the team apart as well.  

4. No Respect, No Empathy

A great leader builds trust with their team members through mutual respect. The best managers constantly have their ear to the ground, work with employees to overcome challenges, and help develop individuals on their team. Bad managers often allow opinions to be ignored, don’t take feedback well, or constantly erode what little trust may exist. Likewise, a bad manager often lacks genuine empathy for their team. People are human, they make mistakes. Great leaders use these opportunities to coach and build up their team members. The toxic manager belittles and breaks down their employees. If your manager doesn’t care and invest in your future, it’s probably best to chart a new path.  

5. The Micromanager

Having a leader dive in the deep end with the team to ensure a project gets done on time is a lot different than a manager that is constantly bugging their team members for updates and status check-ins. A great leader knows that they have recruited and hired the right people for the job. They give each employee the space they need to be successful and have a meaningful impact on the business. The manager’s role is to support and provide the resources to make that team member successful. Micromanagers can erode trust as fast as any bad manager. There are long-term consequences for businesses that allow micromanagers to continue down their annoying paths—you’ll cultivate a team of individuals that don’t feel comfortable stretching their skillset and you’ll have a manager more focused on the minutia instead of helping develop the big picture. 

While this list of five traits that can indicate a bad manager isn’t comprehensive, these are a few of the most common threads that come up in the workplace. Other red flags may include arrogance, taking credit for others work, and entitlement can be huge red flags that you may have a bad manager. However, it’s important to note that many managers themselves haven’t received the proper training and may lack the self-awareness or desire to really want to change.  At the end of the day, it’s true—people do leave bad bosses. Life’s too short to stay in a toxic environment.  

About Peoplelogic.ai 

Peoplelogic.ai, the first true People Intelligence platform, cultivates a data-driven culture by unlocking the insights hidden within your organization’s people data. By automatically aggregating and analyzing vast amounts of data being generated across cloud-enabled tools, the platform surfaces insights and actionable recommendations that ensure growth and stability. Businesses must empower everyone to make better decisions, faster, and Peoplelogic makes that a scalable reality. Providing leaders and managers with an unprecedented vantage point into the inner workings of how work gets done, Peoplelogic makes sure no leader has to make a blind decision based on a gut feeling again. 


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