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5 Signs of a Bad Manager

By Larry Alton
Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 23, 2017

Think you have a bad manager hovering over your shoulders? Here are some of the biggest signs that your boss might need some improvement.

Think you have a bad manager hovering over your shoulder? Or—worse—do you suspect that you might not be the best manager you could be? The reality is that no manager is perfect, and it’s a skill that will take a lifetime of practice in order to get better. In some cases, a bad or good manager is subjective, but in other cases it’s pretty clear when a leader isn’t up to par.

Here are some of the biggest signs that you or your boss might need some major improvement. It’s never too late to get better at management—unless of course those poor skills have already tanked the company. 

Take the action action that needs to happen, whether it’s you who needs an overhaul or you need to start looking for another job with a better leader at the helm:

Related Article: 10 Great Pieces of Entrepreneurial Advice From 2014

1. Micromanaging is the go-to approach

Nothing kills a business and employees’ spirit like micromanaging, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. Many people think they’re genuinely “helping” or that nobody else can do the job quite as well as them. If you spot this in yourself, it’s kind of like being an addict—you probably won’t get better on your own. 

2. They embrace “do as I say, not as I do”

A great manager leads by example, so if they’re always late, don’t follow the dress code, aren’t sure where the team is on a project or otherwise drops the ball on the regular, watch out. There will of course be times when even great managers slip up, but if this is the MO of a manager, then their heart isn’t in it. And if theirs isn’t, why should anyone else’s be?

Related Article: Meeting Mania: How to Curb this Corporate Addiction

3. They’re not qualified

Whether it was nepotism that put them in this role or the hiring manager had a crush on them during interviews, not all managers deserve their position—yet. If you think that’s you, then it’s time to buckle down and earn that spot no matter how you got it.

Of course, this is assuming that you think it’s a feasible goal. If it seems too challenging or you’re in over your head, it might be better for everyone if you sought a transfer to another position lower down the totem pole while you hone your skills.

4. They’re a meeting addict

There are many ways to foster a successful company, but being addicted to meetings just for the sake of it isn’t one of them. Meetings are often big time wasters, they can be expensive and time consuming to pull off, and some people always tend to hog these precious minutes (or even hours). It’s a sign of poor time management and a symptom of a manager who’s using fluff to make it seem like something important is happening.

Related Article: Are Technical Skills More Important than Leadership Qualities?

5. They don’t treat everyone fairly or equally

Whether it’s rampant racism or sexism, or simply the fact that the manager seems to have a “pet,” this is one of the toughest management issues to deal with. If it’s clear to you that a manager doesn’t see everyone as equals, it’s probably obvious to everyone else. This destroys company morale, makes the manager look unprofessional and will slowly poison the company. If you spot this tendency in yourself, it’s time to consider how to handle it.

There are many ways to become a better manager, but fixing what you're not doing well can go a long way.

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