Bad Managers Suck – Chapter 3


I have to admit, it’s a little depressing how easily these posts are to write.  There is a lot of bad manager behavior out there to write about.  So far, we’ve written about:

  1. The Silent Treatment
  2. Illusion of Interest  
The next bad manager behavior I’d like to highlight is one of the most common: Being a wuss.  
Wuss may not be a technical term used in most of our formal management training programs, but I can’t find a better word to describe this kind of behavior by managers.  Here’s short list of the kinds of things you might be doing that would qualify you for the wuss list.
  • Not confronting bad behavior by a direct report or another employee for fear of how he/she will react.
  • Unwillingness to step up and fight for a promotion or raise for your best and most talented employees.
  • Putting off actions to get rid of employees who shouldn’t be on your team due to bad performance or, worse, a bad attitude.
  • Throwing one of your staff under the bus when things go wrong rather than taking the blame on yourself.  
  • Blocking your direct reports from building relationships with people higher up in the organization for fear of what they might say.  
  • Inability to hold people accountable for what they committed to do or are responsible for
Each of these behaviors reveals a lack of courage.  Managers need to be fiercely committed to their people and demonstrate that commitment through their actions.  
In my experience, great managers are courageous.  They do these things really well.
  1. Great managers reward high performance handsomely.  They go to bat for their best people by fighting for promotions, bonuses and opportunities for them.  
  2. Great managers confront bad performance immediately.  There is nothing more demoralizing than to work with an incompetent, unmotivated, slacker who isn’t getting it done.  The quickest way to lose the confidence of your team is to allow these slackers to exist within the team.  Have the courage to hold these individuals accountable to the level of performance you expect.  You have to let them know that they either step up or step off the bus.  And you have to mean it.  Great managers have a zero tolerance policy for low performance.  
  3. Great manager eradicate bad attitudes from their teams.  The only thing worse than a poor performer is a person with a bad attitude.  They are poisonous and destructive.  One bad attitude can destroy a team.  They need to go, even if it requires you as the manager to go out on a limb to get it done.  If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know that your team will be really grateful once the person is gone.  As uncomfortable as the process of getting them out might make you, I can assure you that they are making the people around them daily about ten times less comfortable.  Get ’em out.
  4. Great managers will take a bullet for their people.  If you are encouraging growth and development of your team, they are going to take some risks.  Some of these risks will backfire and there will be failures along the way.  When this happens, courageous managers take on the responsibility for the failure themselves rather than passing that to their people.  When the call comes from a higher up in the organization with the message, “What the #@&! are you guys doing over there?” you have the opportunity to both protect your person and get feedback on what went wrong. This sends the message to your team that it’s okay to take risks and fail.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t then debrief with your team on what went wrong and treat it as a learning experience.  It just means that you make sure that these failures don’t derail the individual’s career.
Managing requires a backbone and some guts.  If you can’t look a person in the eye and tell them that they aren’t cutting it, then you shouldn’t be in management.  If you can’t make the decision to let someone go, you shouldn’t be in management.  Management isn’t only about these tough conversations, but if you don’t or can’t take these issues on, none of the rest matters.  Don’t be a wuss.

1 comment

  1. This is a good series of articles – well done Jason. The question is, will the managers who need to read these articles the most see them? And how can an employee tactfully direct their manager to them?

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