Traits seen in Bad Managers March 5th, 2012

Vinod Kumar

“People don’t quit companies, they quit bad managers”

bad-manager2I think I used this phrase long time back but kept reminding me on this topic to write for a while. With close to 10+ different managers I got to work there have been tons of learnings but equally there were traits which I wish were also not there. Here is a humble try to bring out some common traits few managers have in the industry that I wish were never there. This for sure will not include ALL the traits of a effective bad manager but the top in my opinion.

Note: these are just some observations and comments, hence any resemblance to anyone out there is mere coincidence :).

Now where do I start, there is no particular order to the madness here. For a change in this blog we are not talking about positive attributes. I talked about New Job, New Manager here and will surely be a worthy read if you have landed in this topic. I am sure you equally have horror stories and traits to share and order them if required.

  1. Bad bosses change minds frequently leaving you off-balance. Bad bosses change expectations, deadlines and fail to communicate the timelines or goals. More ironical is to give you goals and make you take off in the opposite direction.
  2. Worst of the lot is to take credit for successes and accomplishments while blame others / you when something goes wrong. My only request to them is –
    Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.bad-manager1
  3. Not to let go of problems or mistakes and continually return to discuss negative events are functional traits of someone who needs to grow. Life moves on, give an opportunity for others to change. Change is the only constant.
  4. A bad manager can not accept constructive feedbacks nor feed-forward suggestions. They think these are disagreements and have their own opinions to thrust.
  5. An inefficient manager has trouble delegating and worst prioritizing work. They swap delegating important tasks and hence you see a clear motive of illogical favoritism. This creates rift in team members and they start to distance from each other.
  6. Attention to details (via micro-management) and perfection of small tasks is often distraction from the ability to perform the actual job. This is functionally – inefficiency surfaced. Such people tend to also try to paralyze by analysis sometimes.
  7. Induce fear when positive attitude can help the employees become productive. If a manager keeps harping on failure, it is actually counter productive.
  8. Rules are to be used as guidelines not something written on stone. Making own new policies and self not adhering is the first mistake any bad manager makes. Rule makers should not be the first rule breakers.
  9. Never should a manager “try” to mind read. Ask, talk and then sort what you are assuming. If they actively invested the time on the project, they know why things go wrong and when they go wrong.
  10. Most of the inefficient managers fail to look beyond their little world and forget to pass important information to their employees. This at many times gets the employees in the back foot when any news breaks.

Wow, I didn’t know this will get this far. But I am sure these were some of my views and not exhaustive though. But they represent some of the common practices in the managers and employees I meet. Let me know what you think of this article. What were your top likes from the top 10 list above :). I am sure I have missed few more but those can wait for another post some other day.

As I conclude, wanted to point you to another blog around “what do you look out at work” which in this context of blog can also make sense.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 5th, 2012 at 20:35 and is filed under Personal, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

19 Responses to “Traits seen in Bad Managers”

  1. naruto says:

    Great article. “Never should a manager “Try” to mind read”. Slap :D (oops clap :P)

    Also, few more points what I personally observed are:
    1) Being a condescending person. Always trying to keep people down by making them feel low. Rejecting all their opinions, thinking others don’t know anything or he/she is the only person knows everything.
    2) — do —
    3) — do —
    4) — do —

  2. Hima Vejella says:

    I completely agree. Most of the managers change company due to their immediate superwiser.

  3. Vic Parmar says:

    Vinod I Completely Agree to everything, and I am sure this will help me and others, and handle things a little more informed.

    Thanks for the article.

    I have read this somewhere.

    “PPL don’t Change Job’s they Change Managers” :)


  4. Anup Warrier says:

    As always excellent points.Totally agree with you.

  5. Shrikant Wakodkar says:

    Hi Vinod,

    Totally agree with you all point, it’s really good article,salute for the all the point :)

  6. Prem says:

    Hi Vinod,

    I’m new to your blog, I certainly agree with all the points you pointed out here, pick of the articles are Point 1,6,8 & 9. I attended all your sessions in MS TechEd 2012, excellent presentation and you have the grip to hold the audiences. Keep it up, looking forward for more from you. You Rock!

  7. Sudeepta says:

    Most liked, Point 8 & 9, saw this happened many times.

    As always, great article, Sir

  8. lalapaloosa says:

    I recently became a manager and did the opposite of what is noted here and ended up landing flat on my face. Then I realized what makes bad managers what they are… its their employees. How many employees will get the work done once expectations are set? Not many. So you need to constantly monitor them. Employees are constantly looking for chinks in the manager’s armor so that they can take advantage of that. A lot of energy is spent in shirking work than actually getting it done. Lets face it, without fear Indians rarely put in that extra effort. I am of course talking about non-engineers here. Blaming managers and not looking at one’s own shortcomings is becoming an epidemic. I have had my share of bad managers. So I agree that there are bad managers. These are people who ascended quickly to the post without training. But as a practice blaming managers is now a habit. Remember your manager reached where he is because he worked at it instead of blaming his manager.

    • Vinod Kumar says:

      Lala – As much as I have taken an employee perspective, I do agree there is always a manager view point too. I will keep this topic behind my mind and will also write about it. You are right, some people need that extra attention but many need the freedom to execute in leisure too. It is a 50-50 catch 22 situation.

      Thanks for penning down your thoughts.

    • Anup Warrier says:

      Lalapaloosa – I respect your point of view,however it’s not true that fear can only push people to bring in that extra effort.There are many factors which will help an employee to drive that extra mile.Passion about the work,environment at which he/she is working,motivation from managers when something good is done etc.

      I strongly believe in one thing – if a manager can lead from front and show the way by doing right things,then his there is no way that his/her team will be demotivated.

    • jay says:

      Lala – We can use the term Extra effort only for 2 things, One to pull down people telling as you said, not ready to put extra effort. Second again to cheat a person who is doing some work which is not important for his career but important for manager’s career, telling I know that you did it putting extra effort. So are you among this category using Extra effort to cheat people.

  9. Lohith says:

    as usual great one from your basket … keep them comin :)

  10. Hi Vinod sir ,

    As always you have articulated a very debatable subject in simple words. While reading through words , I felt how some of my managers were ?

    loved the topic and looking more from you …

    and Yes

    You do not leave your job ; you leave manger


    • Vinod Kumar says:

      Sure Dhananjay. I am sure some managers will read this too, and it is time to think back and work forward as they read the post.

      If you twist and read it in opposite, those are traits of a perfectly great manager in the making :). Personally there are always something everyone can improve on. Hope that learnings come to them.

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