bad manager

3 signs of a bad manager: traits to look out for

Bad managers – at some point most of us have worked for them or at least seen one in action. But what are the signs of a bad manager?

Of course, just because they are bad at their job doesn’t mean a bad boss or manager is not a nice person. However, the frustration and disengagement they cause can have a hugely negative impact on both their team's work environment and the business as a whole.

Signs of a bad manager

Here are just three signs of a bad manager or horrible boss that can cause big problems for a business:

1. They fail to manage conflict properly

A bad manager fails to manage conflict effectively within their team. This might be because they feel they are too busy to handle what they see as trivial matters. Or, they may just not like conflict themselves and hope that the issue will just go away.

However, unless a manager proactively addresses a disagreement or problem, it will just fester and grow. This can damage staff motivation and engagement, potentially leading to grievances and legal action.

Of course, perhaps they haven’t had training in how to effectively manage conflict. A manager might be worried that their involvement will make matters worse. In this case, they might just be right.

Related article: 7 ways to amicably resolve conflict in the workplace

2. They are unable to delegate

An inability to delegate is one of the clear signs of a bad manager or terrible boss.

Micro-managing your staff not only tells them that you don’t feel that they are good at their job. It also gives them a very strong reason for feeling disengaged. After all, if you are always going to specify that things should be done your way, what’s the point of asking anyone else to do the job in the first place?

What’s more, your behaviour will negatively impact on productivity. You are effectively re-doing work that has already been done. That, or you're sitting with your member of staff at every stage of the task. Not only are you allocating two people to do one task, you are also losing time to do your own tasks as manager.

Sadly, this frustrating management approach is fairly rife. In one CMI study of 2000 employees, 26% reported micro-management as one of the worst time-wasting management practices.

3. They do not manage their team

Bad managers fail to set clear standards and expectations of what they want their team to achieve. They then feel exasperated when their team 'fail'.

You might not want to make your team members feel dictated to or micro-managed. However, failing to give them any idea of what you want them to achieve and in what timescales can leave them feeling rudderless and stressed, which won't make for a good work relationship.

Instead, try and find a balanced leadership style that will help staff feel that they are achieving their goals. A good manager will help set their team goals and provide constructive feedback to make room for personal development. The performance review is another important aspect for individual and team growth.

Related article: Are employers obliged to give an employee appraisal?

Whilst this is a fine art, it is sadly one that a lot of managers are struggling to achieve.

According to a 2012 paper from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills entitled: ‘Leadership and Management in the UK – the Key to Sustainable Growth’, 43% of UK managers rated their own line manager as ineffective.

What’s more, the CMI study of 2000 UK employees found that 75% of workers waste up to two hours out of their working week due to inefficient managers.

Of these, 33% said that unclear communication from managers was one of the worst management practices for wasting time. 25% said that lack of direction was the main cause.

This wasted time is all adding up to create a very significant problem. It equates to a loss of £900 per employee per year and a total loss to UK plc of £19.3billion.

Bad managers: whose fault is it anyway?

So bad managers cost businesses and frustrate their staff. But is it fair to lay the blame solely at their door? Especially when so many UK companies realise that they are not giving their managers the training that they need?

A CIPD Annual Survey Report found that as many as 72% of organisations in England reported a deficit of management and leadership skills.

Related article: Developing leadership skills in employees

What’s more, this deficiency is affecting managers across the board, with 65% of organisations saying that their senior managers lacked management skills and 85% saying the deficiency lay with line managers and supervisors.

With such a lack of training for UK managers, it's no wonder that some are demonstrating bad traits that hamper engagement and performance.

However, sadly many employers still lack the cash or the conviction when it comes to training managers. Often, managers independently try to up their skills as best they can.

Whilst this might show willing, many managers are nonetheless keenly aware of the shortcomings that arise when taking this ‘self-taught’ approach.

The CMI highlighted this in their Economic Outlook survey of April 2012. Within this, almost 40% of managers predicted that management skills shortages would have a damaging impact on their organisation in the following six months.

So if even managers are telling their bosses that management training is vital for helping them and their business to succeed, it does beg the obvious question: “Why aren’t they listening?” After all, good managers need good bosses.

Myhrtoolkit HR software includes a wide range of people management modules to help you underpin your people management strategies and objectives. For a free demonstration call 0345 225 0414 or click here for a free trial.

Picture of Fiona Sanderson

Written by Fiona Sanderson

Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.

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