30 Bad Management Behaviors

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We all need to occasionally gripe about our boss now and then. I’m sure it’s somewhere on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And managers, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think you are the subject of your employee’s dinner time conversation now and then. Accept it, it comes with the job.

Most managers are decent, hardworking human beings that do their best with the best of intentions. But no manager is perfect, and sometimes stress brings out the worst of behaviors.

Over the years, I’ve collected the following list of things that managers do to annoy their employees.

In fact, I’m sure I’ve done each one of these as a manager, so to all of my former and current employees, please accept my apologies. Hopefully, I’ve haven’t done more than a few on the same day.

Managers, do an honest self-assessment – or better yet, get some candid feedback – and if you are doing any of these things, make a resolution to STOP doing it.

1. Not being responsive to questions or requests. When an employee asks a question or makes a request, don’t ignore it until they have to ask again. Be responsive – yes, no, maybe, or give let them know when you will have an answer for them.

2. Forgetting what you have asked them to do. Yes, we all forget now and then, I know I sure do. When you do, it tells your employee what you asked them to do may not really be that important.

3. Assigning the same task to different employees. This could be forgetfulness, or it could be setting employees up intentionally to compete.

Both are annoying.

4. Not setting an example (do as I say, not as I do). Leaders need to be role models, not hypocrites.

5. Taking special privileges. For example, flying first or business class and having your team fly coach. There is a great leadership tradition in the military – officers eat last.

It’s a good standard for corporate managers to keep in mind.

6. Coasting. Some managers get complacent, even lazy, yet expect their employees to pick up the slack. If you are going to retire, don’t do it on the job.

7. Not pitching in in a crisis. All hands on deck means ALL hands, including the manager. While it's true that managers should not be doing the work of their employees on a regular basis, the crew will sure appreciate when a manager pitches in and gets their hands dirty when needed.

8. Overpromising and under delivering. This is another symptom of the Type A visionary manager who comes up with lots of big ideas but rarely follows through with any of them. After a while, they lose credibility and trust.

9. Not listening/multitasking. Employees know when a manager isn’t paying attention, and it’s more than annoying, it’s disrespectful.

10. Insensitively to signs of overwork. The manager that keeps piling it on, oblivious to the telltale warning signs that an employee is on overload and about to hit the breaking point.

11. Fighting with and badmouthing your peers or boss. Employees want their managers to have positive, collaborative relationships with their manager and peers. If they don’t, it’s the employees who end up suffering the consequences of a lack of resources and cooperation from their other departments.

12. A lack of understanding or appreciation for the work. An often heard employee complaint: “My boss doesn’t have a clue what I do or how hard I work!”

13. Taking credit, not giving credit. A surefire way to destroy trust and loyalty. Inexcusable, just horrible boss behavior!

14. Holding back, not sharing critical info. Knowledge is power!

15. Micromanaging. Ah, the number one thing a manager can do to annoy employees!

See “20 Clues That You Might be a Micromanager: Take the Quiz to Find Out.”

16. Not addressing performance problems. No one appreciates seeing their coworkers get away with murder.

See “How to Deal With a Lazy Employee.”

17. Playing favorites. It’s hard to be perceived as treating everyone fairly. One way to make it harder is to think you can be friends with your employees. Many managers think they can – it usually backfires.

18. Sending emails, texts, or making phone calls on weekends and evenings, and expecting an immediate answer. Employees need their own personal time, let them have it.

19. Being cheap. Managers often have to tighten the belt, but there is a big difference between frugal and cheap. Frugal is staying at a less expensive motel. Cheap is making employees room together.

20. Indecisiveness. Not making a decision, or taking forever to make a decision. Either way, the manager becomes a bottleneck.

21. Waffling. Similar to indecisiveness, but it’s like trying to please everyone and flip-flopping back and forth.

22. Loose lips. Betraying confidences – another way to erode trust.

23. Being moody, emotionally volatile, and unpredictable. I once knew a manager that everyone always checked with his secretary to find out what kind of mood he was in for the day. She even developed a handy early warning system.

24. Won’t ever admit a mistake. The manager who is quick to blame others and point fingers with no humility.

25. My way or the highway. The manager who insists on doing everyone the “right” way – when it’s really their way.

26. Not open to new ideas. The manager who is quick to shoot down new ideas, instead of being open to possibilities.

27. It’s all about me. The manager with a big ego, with little interest in their employee’s world.

28. Not being available. The manager who is impossible to reach, always busy, and doesn’t take the time to have regular one-on-one meetings.

29. Abusing your power. Being a bully, in often is subtle ways, like making your employee wear funny hats.

30. Being a buzzkill. When an employee shares good news or an accomplishment with the manager, and the manager points out that the glass is only half full.

30. Being a know-it-all. The manager that always has to “one up” the employee to show them how smart they are. “Yes, that’s a good idea, and here’s how to make it even better!”