Growing up, any time I imagined what my work environment would be like, I always focused on myself. Would I be a writer? A teacher? An astronaut? Never once did I pause to wonder how my boss would be, let alone think of the possibility of a bad manager.
My first steps into the working world quickly shattered the wonderful illusion of positivity and collaboration I had naively built for myself. Instead of simple stresses over my work, I was introduced to the stresses of managing the temperaments of superiors.
Since then, I’ve had the fortune and misfortune of experiencing a wide spectrum of managers. From shitty to absolutely wonderful, I’m grudgingly thankful to each for their valuable takeaways.
1. Micromanaging every single thing you do
The only message this sends is you aren’t trusted to do your job, and they’d rather waste their time and yours by watching over your shoulder. Ultimately, this is harmful as your confidence will be affected.
2. Scatter-brained in more ways than one
No one is perfect, and because we’re human, we aren’t always putting our best foot forward. Things slip notice and tasks are sometimes forgotten. Sometimes being the keyword.
If you’re finding yourself repeatedly following up, reminding, and practically chasing your supervisor regarding projects and meetings then you’ve got yourself a bad manager.
3. No matter the situation, they’re quick to criticize
We all mess up. A meeting with your manager at this point is expected. Perhaps even welcomed.
However, how this situation is handled speaks volumes. Behind closed doors with open and calm discourse is healthy. Out in the open, in front of other colleagues, and perhaps even customers, with a finger wagging in your face and raised voices – not so much.
4. Giving no praise, even when it’s due
Positive reinforcement has proven to improve and sustain strong employee performances. Feeling unappreciated and invisible does the opposite. A good manager ought to know this and simple, sincere feedback such as “Good job!”, “Well done!”, and “Great work!” go a long way.
5. Their time > your time
You’re working according to their schedule rather than yours. Working overtime is an expectation as is the assumption that you’re available 24/7 – that’s a bad sign.
6. Letting the office know who their favorite is
Whether you’re the favorite or your colleague is, it’s an unfair situation either way because someone is losing out while the other takes all the wins.
7. Closed off to any suggestions
They refuse to acknowledge feedback and find it threatening. Or worse, they’re indifferent and brush it off, which shows a lack of respect.
8. Full of false promises for your career
A dirty trick some employers use is baiting you with promises of promotions and raises that they have zero intention of fulfilling. It’s even worse when you’re being underpaid or made to believe you don’t deserve more. This leaves your career, and professional worth, damaged and stagnant.
9. Unrealistic expectations that never change
Emails come flying in the day after a project is assigned, demanding its submission. When the tables are turned, they won’t even bother responding to you. “It’ll be done when it’s done.”
10. A complete and total lack of etiquette
Actions speak louder than words, but sometimes words say enough to get you running out the door. I had a meeting once start off with a manager badmouthing his previous employees, going as far as insulting their upbringing. Such a show of zero accountability is quite telling of a person’s managerial skills.
11. Emotions steer their every decision
Any leadership role requires a calm temperament. A bad manager, on the other hand, is susceptible to knee-jerk emotional reactions. Not only does this spell trouble for their subordinates but also the business.
A bad manager, then, can take quite a toll on an employee as their shitty practices would be quick to turn any job into a cesspool of hate, not only messing up your personal life with its toxicity but also messing up your career growth.
Keep an eye out for these traits from the get-go to save yourself a world of trouble down the line.