6 signs you’re a bad manager and how to improve

Are You a Bad Manager?

As a manager or a team leader you most likely have a lot going on. Sometimes when juggling a million different tasks and employees all at once, it becomes hard not to let your people skills and leadership qualities fade into the background. But just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean you don’t have room for improvement, because challenging yourself is exactly what being a good team leader is all about.

So, are you ready to evaluate your management skills? If so, here are 6 signs you’re a bad manager, as well as some strategies you can use to improve in order to become a great one.

Bad manager sign #1: You’re a micromanager

Micromanagement is by far one of the biggest complaints employees make against their managers, which can lead to disheartenment, lack of motivation, disengagement, and potential employee attenuation.

If you’re a micromanager, you’ll constantly be checking in on the progress of your employees, trying to tell them how to do their job and when to do it. It’s also hard for you to hand off tasks from your workload to your employees, even though it may help them grow their experience and skills. You give feedback at every possible opportunity. You hand out to your employees one task or project at a time, forcing them to touch base with you when they need more work to do. You ask employees to check in with you before sending an email, setting-up a meeting with other leaders, or giving a presentation, for example.

Do these traits and behaviours sound like you? Then you’re probably a micromanager.

How to Improve: Even if this is uncomfortable for you and you feel like you’re losing control over your team, you need to give your employees some leeway to make their own choices and do the work themselves, even if they make mistakes along the way. This is the only way they will learn and develop their own skills. By loosening the reins and giving up some control, you can spend your time working on other projects that will be more meaningful for the success of the company than checking in on the day-to-day workload of your employees. It’s also important to remember that just because one of your employees is working on a project differently than how you would have approached it, that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong or unsatisfactory.

Bad manager sign #2: You don’t care about your employees’ career growth

During your one-on-one meetings or career conversations with your employees, you never take the time to ask them about their long-term career goals. Instead, you focus the conversations on the work and projects at hand and fail to discuss their future career aspirations.

You never make efforts to connect your employees with other leaders within the company to help them network. You don’t discuss internal opportunities that may be of interest to them, and you discourage your employees from working on side projects, out of concern that it will hurt their current performance. If this reflects your management style, this means you’re definitely not looking out for your employees’ long-term career growth.

How to Improve: Consider your employees’ career development as important as yours, because in all honesty, it is, as their success is your success too. In today’s competitive job market, you can’t expect that your employees won’t be approached for other opportunities, either within your company or externally.

If you support them and champion their growth, there will be less risk of them suddenly quitting and going to work for a competitor. Set-up regular meetings with your team to discuss their career goals and map out a plan on how to best accomplish them. Show your employees you care about their development by signing them up for seminars or conferences to further develop their skills and connect them to other team leaders in order to help them grow their network within your company. Finally, remember that employees are more likely to quit because of bad managers than because of bad jobs.

Bad manager sign #3: You’re unpredictable and inconsistent

Whether it’s things like promotion criteria, career conversations, vacation requests, or flexible working arrangements, your rules tend to differ from employee to employee. You seem to constantly be changing your mind. You sometimes enforce certain or specific rules and practices for your team and you sometimes don’t. You fail to hold all employees to the same standards and you don’t follow the rules you’ve set out yourself.

How to Improve: If you want to be trusted and recognized as a good manager by your team and your peers, you need to standardize and streamline your rules and policies and make sure everyone abides by them, including yourself. Confusion and lack of coherency is a big problem when it comes to team dynamics, so when things become clearer it will improve your team’s overall productivity.

Bad manager sign #4: You only give negative feedback

When giving your employees feedback on their work, you spend the majority of the time focusing on aspects they could have done better or differently, improvements they should have made, or mistakes they made and behaviours they should change. While some constructive feedback can be beneficial, constant negative feedback, especially all at once or in one sitting, can seem to your employees like they’ve just been hit by a truck.

How to Improve: Even if your constructive feedback is actually useful, it’s often hard for employees to pick out the useful bits, when everything’s been surrounded by a cloud of negativity. To improve this, make sure to balance out your constructive feedback, while also reinforcing positive aspects that have been completed. Balancing positive and constructive feedback encourages employees to keep up the good work, while also offering a boost to morale, in a way that won’t upset or defeat them.

Bad manager sign #5: Youtake credit for your employees’ work

You’re quick to take all the credit for your employee’s wins and blame them for their failures. You don’t encourage them to keep up the good work, and make their losses feel like they’ve disappointed the entire team. Does this sound like you?

How to Improve: One of your primary responsibilities as a manager is to always set your employees up for success. This includes recognizing and acknowledging their work and giving credit both privately and publicly where and when credit is due. Strong and confident managers take pride in the success of their people and are always willing to sing their praises. It creates a win-win situation and is at the foundation of employee engagement.

Bad manager sign #6:  You’re all about work…and nothing else

You don’t know much about your employees beyond their name, their work responsibilities, and their salary. When you make small talk in the elevator or by the coffee machine, you only talk about work related topics. As a team, the most time you all spend together is in a meeting. You don’t celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries, and you never take your team out for dinner or drinks either. To sum it up, your team feels disconnected and the group’s dynamic is rather negative.

How to Improve: Get to know your team beyond work related matters! When making small talk, ask your employees simple questions outside the scope of work, like for example if they have any siblings, kids, or pets. Share personal details about yourself too! Sharing personal information is valuable for building trust and a common connection between you and your team. A team that understands and respects each other, is always one that is successful.

In addition to making conversation about topics outside of work, reward your employees for their hard work with team-building activities. Whether it’s through gifts, awards, food and drinks, or fun experiences as a group, team building goes a long way towards promoting a positive team dynamic that will reduce inter-team conflicts and increase employee morale.


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