A manager has a huge impact on how much employees enjoy their job, and how motivated they are to do well in their positions. When someone is put in charge of a team, how they perform their duties as a manager has a massive influence on how their direct reports feel about their job and the company as a whole.
Fortunately, being a good manager is a skill that can be developed. Becoming a manager whom people respect is usually a simple process of diminishing traits that can have a negative effect on the wider team and replacing them with characteristics that make you a better leader. With that as the aim, here are five of the worst traits to have as a manager and how you can avoid developing them.
This is directed at managers who tend to become too involved in tasks that they have delegated. This trait is particularly destructive as it diminishes both manager and your subordinate. Not only does it add to the workload of the person who is micro-managing, but the employee also loses the chance to carry out the task by themselves and, consequently, to become more competent and confident.
By being too controlling, you also forsake the chance to strengthen your delegation skills. Clear communications and briefs, effective monitoring, and the ability to give constructive criticism are all excellent skills that make a good manager. By refusing to let go of delegated tasks, you risk being unable to learn any of these skills. By giving your staff freedom to work, they become better at their job, you can do something else with your time, and the company gets two employees working on different things – win-win…win!
To avoid micromanaging, learn to delegate, and understand that it’s important to have trust in your team members. If the tasks you assign them aren’t initially completed to your ideal standards, be patient and work with them – seizing the opportunity to practice your leadership skills.
There’s nothing worse than a manager who willingly accepts all the praise for others’ hard work! Someone who takes credit for ideas that came from the wider team, and reaps the rewards, is not management material. Worse still is sidestepping any of the blame if something goes wrong and happily offering up colleagues as scapegoats to save their own skin.
The problem with this approach is two-fold: Firstly, once their team figures this out, they’ll hold back, not giving their best – and they certainly won’t offer up their ideas. Secondly, it creates an environment in which employees prioritise covering their back over success. Sure, work will get done, but it won’t be the best it could possibly be.
The antidote for such a toxic scenario lies in a single word: recognition. Take every opportunity to recognise your team’s efforts and what they produce. Praise them both publically, when the situation calls for it, and privately. Thank them collectively and as individuals; tell them exactly what you value about their contributions. Such recognition inspires loyalty and a desire to bring forth your best effort.
Enforcing rules that you then fail to follow yourself is an incredibly undesirable trait and can cause as serious rift in your team. Disciplining an employee for arriving late for work, for instance, when you’re frequently late yourself damages your credibility.
A great manager, by contrast, leads by example: They set standards that they know they can meet them themselves. They arrive at work before their team to guarantee they’re never late. When an extra effort is required to hit a deadline, they’ll be the one that stays latest, sending their team home before they do.
Poor Listening Skills
It’s difficult to be a good manager if you’re a poor communicator, and it’s impossible to be an effective communicator if you don’t listen. A great manager listens to their team’s ideas and suggestions. They encourage their input, knowing they might see something they’ve missed or approach a problem from a different angle that leads to a better outcome.
Communication needs to be a two-way street, so when a manager simply talks and makes demands, without taking on-board feedback in return, their leadership can quickly become ineffective.
If you feel you’re guilty of this and need to work on your listening skills, start by routinely asking your employees how they are – and genuinely listening for the answer. Regularly ask them for their ideas for making the company more successful, what their personal goals are, where they see themselves going within the organisation, etc. You never know what you might uncover.
The anxiety of upsetting a superior can be overwhelming, so when someone in a position of power is known for losing their temper, those they manage will quickly start to feel uncomfortable around them. Team members managed by someone with a short fuse tend to be afraid to make mistakes, which stunts their professional development. It’s highly unlikely that they will put forward ideas for fear of being shot down. All of which combines to create a negative, restricted workplace culture, in which employees aren’t free to be themselves.
If you possess this trait as a manager, you’re leading more through fear more than respect, or even competence. Those who report to you are more concerned about pleasing you and not incurring your wrath, rather than wanting to do the best job possible.
If you’re often guilty of losing your temper, you should start to rectify this by learning to apologise for your behavior when it does happen and explain that it’s something you’re working on. If you’re prone to moods when a day starts getting on top of you, apologise to your team aheadof time: something along the lines of ‘sorry if I’m a bit off with you today, I’m not having a great morning’. It’s far better than your team having no explanation for your moods and walking on eggshells because of it.
There is no such thing as the ‘perfect manager’, but by checking in on your own behavior and encouraging open communication, you can run a team that you’re proud to oversee. In return, your team will be happy to work for you, improving motivation, productivity and staff retention.
About the Author
Cleo Chaisty is a copywriter for The Hub Events, a leading UK provider of management and leadership training. She specialises in topics covering business, management, leadership and HR.