How NOT to do it – 25 signs of poor management

Good management skills are never a nice-to-have. In pretty much any organisation of whatever size, the quality of the management has a direct impact on performance, productivity, efficiency… whatever you’re measuring, good management makes it better, poor management makes it worse. And that’s never been more true perhaps than over the past year or so, as workplaces have been thrown into chaos, and teams scattered to the winds. With hybrid and flexible working practices becoming ever more embedded in how we do business, good management is only going to become more important.

There’s no shortage of guides to good management, but… for most of us, the experiences that linger, that teach the most, are the ‘bad’ examples we’ve experienced. The times when we’ve said, I’ll never do that to my team!

So, here’s a shopping list of the worst (?) management traits to learn from. The list is potentially endless, but what follows can occur at any level of responsibility. For some, management seems to be a mistake waiting to happen – in no particular order, here are some of those mistakes…

  1. Selective or closed communication – They’re cagey about what to tell the team (yes, occasionally, something will be genuinely confidential, but usually they’re just depriving the team of useful context, or even critical facts).
  2. Unresponsive – Replies to requests late, if at all.
  3. Knows they’re right about everything – Confidence can be great, but arrogance means they’re not open to input from others.
  4. Sees it as their responsibility to solve team problems – Even though a group has more potential problem-solving power than any individual.
  5. Thinks the ideal team would be people like them …and recruits accordingly.
  6. Quick to point out flaws (in systems, ideas, people…) – There’s a time for constructive criticism but some managers can’t help but be critical.
  7. Fails to give credit where it’s due.
  8. Quick to take credit for the team’s work.
  9. Doesn’t understand what the team does – A manager doesn’t necessarily need to be able to do every job, but they do need to understand and appreciate what’s involved for their team.
  10. Believes personal stuff should be left at home – Encouraging the team to be ‘professional’ is good, ignoring the fact that personal issues often affect performance isn’t. Sees ‘employee wellbeing’ as nothing to do with them
  11. Encourages (even demands) sick staff return to work asap – Because the best thing for the team as a whole is for everything to get sick, right?
  12. Shows favouritism – Usually because they’re trying to be friends with their team (friendly is fine, but be a manager first!) and some are seen as better ‘friends’ than others.
  13. Delegates work to the wrong person – who has neither the time nor the skills to do it.
  14. Delegates the same work to more than one person – Now they’re working in competition.
  15. Believes motivation is a simple matter of giving the right orders.
  16. Enjoys, and even flaunts, the ‘privileges of rank’ – first class travel, higher expense allowances… anything that says, “I’m important”.
  17. Enjoys a gossip – Doesn’t respect a confidence, and so is not trusted by the team.
  18. Slow to take responsibility for mistakes – But quick to point the finger.
  19. Piles on the straws until the camel’s back breaks – Their only measure of performance or productivity is, Is it done? The impact of overworking on the team doesn’t occur to them.
  20. Micro-managing – How’s it going? Have you done X yet? Spoken to Y? What did they say? – Gets stuck on details, and is unable to let go.
  21. Doesn’t show they trust the team – Result: the team sees them as a control freak who can’t be trusted in turn.
  22. Doesn’t respect boundaries or personal time – e.g. calling or messaging team members on an evening or weekend (or other off hours).
  23. Joins in if the team complains about higher management – A tempting way to buy a few credibility points with the team but this manager is undermining themselves.
  24. Is a ‘seagull’ – You’ve heard of seagull managers? They fly in, make a lot of noise, drop their mess all over everything, and fly out again.
  25. Has a fundamental “do as I say, not as I do” attitude – which either supports or accounts for much of the above…


If any of this sounds familiar and you want to avoid these far-from-ideal traits, Maximum offers almost 20 different management training modules that show a better way to manage. If you’d like a taster, we’re offering a short, free management essentials webinar on 5 November, with an emphasis on exploring ideal management behaviours. Sign up here; or give us a call on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.

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