Bad managers


I read the above quote and my heart went cold, reminding me of all the bad managers I have had over the years.

The strange thing is, all my life I have had people assume I am a natural leader. I am not sure why that is, but it started at school. I thought at the time it was because I was an overachiever but it continued when I started to work and I was never quite sure why it kept happening.

I am not a natural leader. I could not think of anything worse than managing people. I would be absolutely awful at it.  I guess my saving grace is that I actually know that I would be awful. I was talking about this with one of my clients a few weeks ago. She is the managing director of a huge company and was in the position of having to dismiss someone who had basically ruined an entire department through bad management.

Her theory was that it was because you notice me immediately when I walk into a room. She says I give off an air of authority and confidence. I am sure that it is more that I am tall with big hair and giant shoulders and what people see is a totally wrong picture of me. Because leading in any way is not for me. Not even from the back. Hats off to people who do it well. Because in my experience, not many people do.

After I saw the quote above though I was pondering how people, when they are good at what they do (whatever it is) are often rewarded by promoting them to management. Just because they are good at what they do does not mean they can manage!

Bad bosses I have had have

  • micromanaged
  • ignored their staff
  • been unable to admit that they were wrong or made a mistake or a poor decision
  • been largely absent unless they want to grumble
  • not praised good work
  • taken credit for the work of others while doing absolutely nothing themselves
  • stolen ideas
  • bullied their staff
  • been passive-aggressive
  • been vindictive
  • poor communicators
  • unable to see the impact of their behaviour on the staff
  • created fear by making people feel they will be fired
  • had favourites among the staff who received special treatment
  • never listened
  • given you a project but constantly interferes in it
  • blamed their own mistakes on other people
  • always ben critical, never praised
  • lied
  • not treated their staff like human beings with feelings and who have lives after hours
  • expected you to work 24/7
  • thought nothing of phoning you late at night, on holidays and weekends
  • been inconsistent when it comes to rules
  • not followed the rules themselves
  • sucked up to top management
  • had no goals or vision
  • not seen the benefits of social functions as team building and networking exercises (office parties, Christmas lunch, once-a-week cake, team building days)
  • not trusted or reward their staff
  • been sociopaths (they say almost 20% of managers are sociopaths)

Phew, I didn’t realise what resentment I had been holding in until I started that list and then it all poured out. It made me angry all over again!

Any readers out there have any more bugbears to add to the list?


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

9 thoughts

  1. My bad managers have included (1) a guy who asked me why I wasn’t home cooking dinner for my husband and (2) a jerk who sexually harassed every single female in the office and got away with it. Until his plane crashed into a mountain.

  2. You certainly nailed it. The trouble is there seems to be more and more of them today.

  3. A few years ago I was living in Belgium and had the misfortune to work for a woman with terrible communication skills. When a project came up it would be passed to one of the team to “come up with a proposal”, no criteria were shared. When we came back with the proposal she’d rage (loudly, in the open office) that it wasn’t what she wanted! It was hard to be motivated when working for someone so indecisive who also seemed to expect me to be able to read her mind.

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