How to Be the Good New Manager and Not the Bad Boss
Bad bosses come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are overly aggressive like the cartoon above and sometimes they are overly timid and unavailable. If you are just assuming the new role of manager, take a look at the traits of bad bosses so you can be sure you become the manager that everyone wants to work with instead of the manager everyone complains about.
New manager training will no doubt give you a picture of a good boss…someone you can respect and learn from. But let’s take a look at the bad bosses that can so very negatively impact a team’s performance and a culture. We think of ineffective managers as falling into 4 different categories: self-centered, overly-demanding and mean, uncommunicative and unavailable, and fearful.
- The self-centered bad boss thinks first and foremost about themselves. They care far more about their own standing in the company than the well-being of their employees. They play politics to enhance their own image and pander to those above them. Even though they may be responsible for a costly mistake, they will never own up to it. This would work against the picture they have of themselves as competent and in charge.They have little to no personal accountability and are quick to point the finger at others when they are actually the one to blame. And, when there is credit due, they accept it for themselves regardless of who did the work and took the risk. Good managers always put their teams first.
- The mean boss is apt to be a yeller. You can hear them from down the hall and can only cringe for the person who is the current target of their anger. As every parent eventually learns, it is not how loud you yell but how clear, fair, consistent and supportive you can be that corrects under-performance or bad behavior.The yellers are also likely to be bullies. Instead of offering guidance, they manage through intimidation. An atmosphere of distrust pervades. Employees worry more about holding on to their jobs for these bad managers than about performing.Mean managers can also be unrealistically demanding. They don’t take the time to figure out what is actually do-able; they make up their own agenda and try to force its execution. Another recipe for low performance and dis-engagement. Good managers listen, have empathy and set clear and compelling performance standards.
- Though not as obviously objectionable, absentee bosses are also bad managers. They are typically unavailable and hold themselves separate from the team and the work that has to be done. They are nowhere to be found when problems arise. They are poor communicators overall…so expectations are not clear, questions on roles and responsibilities go unanswered, conflicts fester and employee concerns are unheeded. As a result, productivity suffers as employees try to figure things out for themselves…often at cross purposes.These managers are not around to guide their employees, encourage high performers and critique and manage poor performance. With no recognition or monitoring, morale suffers and mediocrity reigns. Good managers get into the trenches with their team, set a clear direction, recognize contributions and help under-performers to improve or move on.
- Finally, we have the bad boss who is fearful. Either they micromanage because they have little confidence in their team to do their jobs effectively or they fear making a mistake and therefore, avoid making decisions. They are afraid to be direct with their reports and avoid confrontation even when warranted by poor behavior. As a result, overall performance and employee engagement suffers. Good managers set priorities, play to people’s collective and individual strengths and proactively manage conflict.
Not one of these bosses deserves to be in a management role because they put the future of the company at risk. Where these bad bosses exist, engagement is low, turnover is high and performance is weak.