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How Can You Spot Really Bad Managers? They Do Any of These 5 Terrible Things


There are certain management behaviors and habits that plague businesses and keep them from realizing their true potential for profit-making and their impact on the world. 

Leadership, after all, is about fostering healthy human relationships toward producing great achievements together. And to lead exceptionally well, once you realize its true tenets and learn the competencies required for success, will undoubtedly produce good business outcomes.

Unfortunately, too many organizations place the wrong people into management roles, often assuming a terribly wrong criterion for hiring and promoting people into those highly esteemed positions.

This misplacement of people in management positions who lack mastery of people skills and a fair amount of emotional intelligence can have disastrous outcomes. Below, I highlight five bad management traits and habits I have seen over the course of 20 years. These traits and habits add unnecessary strain to the lives of employees, hampering their ability to perform well while affecting the customer base.

1. Micromanaging

Managers who dominate people, decisions, and processes will ultimately derail a team’s morale. Micromanagers operate their way out of a sense of power, and power is about control. And with control, fear is par for the course in a micromanaged environment. When managing people is less about control and more about encouraging autonomy and freedom for valued employees to lead themselves, discretionary effort is unleashed and teams produce great results. According to WorldBlu research, organizations that operate through a freer and more autonomous leadership approach saw “on average seven times greater revenue growth over a three-year period compared to S&P 500 companies.”

2. Squashing the ideas of others

Leaders who say they want an innovative team or culture and then turn around and kill any new idea brought forth are subconsciously sabotaging the creative process through a top-down approach. Instead, they need a bottom-up “pull” approach, supporting and nurturing innovation from “idea people” who want to contribute and make a difference.

3. Failure to actively listen

The lack of active and respectful listening and two-way communication is a clear shortcoming for many managers. Many don’t want to listen to the ideas, opinions, and constructive feedback of others. They operate in an ego-system, not an ecosystem. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever worked with this type of leader, it can be exhausting.

4. Ignoring people’s natural desire to grow and develop

Treating employees as worker bees with dead-end career paths and no opportunities to grow as professionals and human beings is an absolute engagement killer. On the contrary, good managers with sound leadership skills will invest in their top employees long-term by providing learning, development, and mentoring opportunities. They create an environment that motivates people and keeps their performance at a high level by asking about their development, and whether they’re getting enough opportunities to learn and grow.

5. Missing in action

A manager who is missing in action is often invisible when he’s needed the most. They may schedule too many “important” or “urgent” meetings as a way to conveniently avoid having tough conversations with their team members. A missing-in-action manager operates this way to avoid personal interaction, especially when things are going south. They will manage by email and text and steer clear of communicating in person for fear of facing conflict (which, if faced with courage and authenticity, would cause much less conflict to happen). This manager is only interested in good news, because he’s not able to handle anything more. Got a problem? Talk to someone else.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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