Signs of a Bad Manager (and how to deal with them!)

signs of a bad manager and how to deal with them healthy gamer
Kabir L.
Kabir L.
Community Manager

According to a report from DDI, 57% of people who leave a job do it due to their direct manager. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize when you have a bad manager to avoid getting burnt out at your job. This article will discuss some of the signs of having a bad manager and communication strategies to make working with them more manageable.

Signs You Have a Bad Manager

1. They micromanage you

If your manager wants to control every aspect of your day-to-day work, they are micromanaging you. Micromanagement takes away freedom and creativity at work. It can also show insecurity or lack of trust on the manager’s part. You don’t get the freedom to work on your terms because you have to worry about doing it exactly how your manager wants. Over time, micromanagement can lead to burnout.

2. They are worried about their image

A bad manager will seek to prioritize their image and their supervisor’s perception of them over the team's well-being. Sometimes, this means not giving appropriate credit to the team. At other times, it means overworking them so that the manager does not look bad in front of their supervisors. This attitude often leads to a toxic work environment.

3. They value peace above fairness

Sometimes, you will get a boss who wants to avoid conflict and hassle at all costs. Their goal is to minimize hassle, collect their pay, and go home. These managers tend to be burnt out yet stay at the same company for several years.

4. They don’t listen to your concerns

Bosses who don’t listen to their employee’s concerns let problems fester. As a result, employees get burnt out because their issues don’t get addressed. Often, this is because the manager feels disempowered. 

A behavioral experiment published in the Harvard Business Review found that students in managerial roles with low autonomy were less likely to encourage their direct reports to speak up and provide input. They would allocate 25% less time to discuss work issues with their employees than those in the high autonomy condition.

5. They are inflexible

According to a poll of 1500 CEOs conducted by IBM, 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most crucial factor for leadership success. However, inflexible bosses are suppress creative problem-solving, leading to unhappy employees, poor performance, and unsatisfactory outcomes for the organization. 

6. They are too busy to manage their team

Frazzled managers tend to have no work-life balance and are constantly overworked. As a result, they tend to be too busy to manage their teams, let alone manage them well. They believe that they got promoted because they got work done.

7. They don’t give you feedback

A survey conducted by Gallup showed that employees whose manager’s feedback left them with positive feelings were 3.9 times more likely to be engaged than employees who felt hurt. However, they also discovered that only 14.5% of managers strongly agree that they are effective at giving feedback.

Source: Gallup

The art of giving good feedback is crucial to being a good manager. However, most managers are not well-versed in this skill. Additionally, they may be too busy with their own workload to notice your performance and suggest areas of improvement.

8. They don’t advocate for you

A good boss will support you on your career path and advocate for you. If you put in consistent hard work and your manager is not advocating on your behalf, they may not be a good manager. It would be a good time to have a conversation with them about the lack of recognition or advocacy.

9. They choose favorites

A study conducted at Central Michigan University found that 47 percent of American employees reported that their supervisor had favorites. Moreover, 21 percent of the respondents admitted that their supervisors treated them better than their peers at work.

It is human nature to like some colleagues more than others. However, a good manager does not treat some direct reports differently from others. Employees not only deemed favoritism as a form of workplace injustice/unfairness but also reacted to favoritism behaviors with negative emotions toward the organization, less loyalty to the company, less job satisfaction, stronger intentions to quit the job, less work motivation, and more emotional exhaustion.

10. They don’t trust you

Two-thirds of employers do not trust their staff when it comes to working remotely. If your manager does not trust you to do your work, then that is a significant problem. A Gallup study even found that companies with talented individuals who can delegate have greater growth rates, higher revenue, and create more jobs. 

However, delegation isn’t possible if there is a lack of trust between a manager and their direct reports. A lack of trust can make employees feel frustrated, unvalued, and uncertain about their abilities. 

11. They rarely reward good work

Unskilled managers rarely reward good performance and seem always to have something to complain about. This excessive negative focus can be discouraging, lower team morale, and contributes to workplace burnout.

Good managers reward their employees when they accomplish their goals. This reward can come in praise, recognition, career advancement, or financial rewards. However, a great manager will recognize what an employee is looking for and seek to reward the employee in that way.

Do I have a Bad Manager?

If you feel unvalued at work, or feel like you aren't being treated well, then this quiz can help you clarify your feelings:

Characteristics of a Good Manager

Here are some of the qualities of a good manager:

  1. They do not micromanage.
  2. They focus on employee strengths and support employees in working on their weaknesses when needed.
  3. Good managers are assertive at the correct times. They don't let employees walk over them to keep the peace.
  4. They help develop employees’ careers.
  5. Good managers can handle pressure and keep spirits high in their team.
  6. They communicate honestly, which contributes to a trusting work environment.
  7. They are flexible and can adapt to the requirements of the task at hand. They support their employees and try their best to make life easier for their direct reports.
  8. They recognize and reward good work, especially in how the employee values it.

It is important to note that for every manager and style of management, there is an employee that fits with their style. For example, some employees prefer a micromanager because they get a sense of safety from having expectations laid out. However, most workers would prefer a manager who does not micromanage and lets employees figure out their own way to complete their tasks.

How to Deal with a Bad Manager

It may surprise you to learn that most managers do not get any formal training in the art of management. As a result, they learn by practicing on you. Even business degrees do not have many classes on managing people. They primarily focus on subjects such as finance, marketing, etc.

To communicate effectively with your supervisor, you need to figure out their managerial style.

Bosses come in varied forms. This variance exists because:

Bosses have different personality types, much like other human beings. They can be introverted or extroverted, detail-oriented, or focused on the big-picture.

The company culture strongly influences the kind of boss you are likely to have. Companies like Whole Foods and Starbucks are known for their employee focus and reward a culture where employees care for each other. Therefore, bosses in those organizations are likely to be caring, understanding, and kind, unlike companies that are laser-focused on hitting sales targets.

No boss is purely one of these. Depending on the situation, a boss may switch from one of these types to the other. However, most of the time, your boss will have a dominant style that will reflect one of these types.

Boss Type Traits Favourite Quote Communication Strategy 
Tyrant   Seeks control.  "Did you do what I told you to do?"  Approach privately, don't contradict them in public.
Career Climber  Ambitious. Concerned about own image.  "How does this reflect on me?"  Understand their goals. Support them or avoid embarrassing them. 
Company Man  Wishes to avoid criticism from above.  "Will my boss/the company be happy?"  Align your work with corporate/group goals. 
Burnout/Lifer  Minimize hassle, collect pay, go home. Value peace above fairness.  "Who is causing me a hassle now?"  Pitch assurances of safe ideas. 
Old Timer  Values safety of the proven past. Operates on inertia and fear.  "This is how we've always done it."  Present ideas as small, safe, and as tiny deviances of current systems. 
Expert  Made a manager because of craft excellence, not management skill.  "Is this work at my standards?"  Ask for their expert opinion and help. Be meticulous in your work. 
Micromanager  Value adherence to instructions.  "Did you do it exactly as I told you?"  Invite oversight and give frequent updates. 
Frazzled  Cannot say no. No balance.  "I'm so busy, I have no time for this." Set boundaries, offer help, bother them rarely. 
Invisible Hand  Remote. Delegates the day to day. Trusts employees.   "Call me if you need me." Hand problems you can, call them quickly if there are issues. 
Servant Leader  Values team players. Struggle with disruptive or selfish employees.  "How can I help you succeed?"  Work towards team goals. 
Retail Manager  Disempowered. Common in fast food, mall stores, etc.  "That's what HQ said; I can't change it."  Adhere to the letter of the rules. 
Owner Deep emotional ties. Threats to business are threats to them. "My name is on the building." Treat their business as personal property.

Getting Feedback

If your manager is giving you recognition in a way that you do not want, the best course of action is to talk to them about what would be meaningful to you. Not all managers can change styles, but those who can will then provide feedback in a way that works better for you.

One of the best ways to ascertain whether you are valued at work is to ask for feedback on your performance. It can be a difficult task because it opens you up to criticism and may make you feel vulnerable. It is essential to keep in mind that your work is not a reflection of who you are as an individual. Your work can change over time; it can improve or get worse. But you as an individual have worth that is independent of your output.

Schedule time with your manager to have a chat about your work performance. Listen carefully, and don’t try to counter their points. There are two possibilities:

If the feedback is valid and points to accurate gaps in your skills, knowledge, attitude, or work experience, the next step is to figure out how to work on those aspects. 

If the feedback is not valid and does not accurately reflect your work, then the real problem is the negative perception of your work. The next step is to figure out how to change this perception.

If any of these two outcomes come to be, your value at work will increase. However, the next step is crucial to ensure that your value at work increases in the right direction.

Should I Quit?

Nearly 75% of people quit their jobs because of their bosses. However, the communication strategies listed above can allow us to re-evaluate a decision to quit. Before you decide to switch jobs, here are some things to consider:

Is the feeling of wanting to quit solely due to your job environment?

Often, mental wellness challenges such as a lack of self-worth, anxiety, or depression can manifest as apathy or dissatisfaction at work. Even if you quit this job, those feelings will follow you to your next job. Therefore, it is vital to work on those before quitting.

Are you getting enough feedback? Is the feedback valid and actionable?

Are you able to make and execute a plan based on the feedback? If you have gotten actionable feedback from your manager, attempt to work on that before quitting.

It is worth noting that quitting may be warranted in some situations if management cannot address the situation adequately. Examples include sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, racist abuse, etc. There are no skills to build or feedback to consider in this situation. The priority needs to be switching to a safer environment. 79% of employees would refuse a higher-paying job from a company that failed to act against sexual harassment.

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Career Coaching for real people. Not Corporate robots.

We aren’t here to tell you to quit your job, or tell you to suck it up. Healthy Gamer Career Coaches help you navigate your unique situation with a perspective on mental wellness to find a path forward.

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