One thing most bad managers have in common is they're not consciously aware that they're bad managers. And if they are aware of it on some level, they're probably not willing to admit it to anyone, least of all themselves. That's because nobody wants to believe they're the problem.
It's a common enough phenomenon that isn't limited to bosses, but applies to people at all levels: executives, managers, employees too. I'm not a shrink, so I'm not sure why that is. But if I had to guess, I'd say it's probably got something to do with ego, denial, compartmentalization, self-delusion, lack of perspective, that sort of thing.
It would be all-too-easy to just label these folks dysfunctional and call it a day, but I'm not entirely sure that would be either accurate or helpful. I actually think we all suffer from this sort of myopia to some extent and from time to time.
You see, in How to Deal With a Bad Boss: Don't! I told readers to take a long hard look in the mirror before pointing fingers at the boss. Of course that cuts both ways. But in reading all the comments and emails, I noticed a distinct lack of objectivity by those actually experiencing a boss-employee relationship issue, as opposed to those who were just talking about it.
When it's happening to us, we put up our defenses. And not only is that bad for business, it's bad for your management career, as well.
So, even if you're convinced that you're the greatest manager on planet Earth and your ability to be introspective knows no bounds, you'd still be wise to check these 7 Signs You May Be a Bad Manager. As for all you employees who'd rather be water-boarded than take a cold hard look at yourself, most of the signs apply to individuals, too.
- Your group is underperforming. Sooner or later, bad management will trickle down and affect the entire organization. Whatever the appropriate metrics are for an organization, poor performance can usually be traced back to a management problem.
- Your manager is turning up the heat. When a good senior manager thinks there may be a problem with a subordinate manager, he'll inevitably turn up the heat and see what happens. So if you notice your boss putting the screws to you, it's a sign that something's up.
- Allies are distancing themselves from you. It's one thing for your employees to talk behind your back and for your enemies to despise you, but when your work friends and allies start to back away, that's an indication that you're damaged goods.
- You're behaving like more of a jerk than usual. You may be in conscious denial about being a crappy boss, but on some level, you're probably aware of it. And that takes a toll on you, usually in terms of increased stress and anxiety that you'll likely take out on others.
- Your decision-making is compromised. One of the most visible signs of poor management is poor decision-making. After all, decisions are actions, actions generate results, and results are highly visible. Pay attention.
- Your personal relationships suck. Dysfunctional managers are also dysfunctional people. Relationships are relationships, period. And while I'm sure that some bad bosses are just wonderful spouses and friends, I seriously doubt it's very common.
- Your employees are miserable. Come on now. I don't care how self-absorbed you are, you know if your employees are miserable. Do they stop talking and look guilty when you walk by? Do they invite everyone else but you for drinks after work?
- 10 Things Good Managers Believe
- 10 Lies Managers Tell themselves
- Aspiring Managers: Learn to Behave Like Adults