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What are the qualities of a bad manager?

We’ve all have managers we’ve loved who were supportive, taught us how to do our job well, and trusted us to do it. However, many of us have also had managers who have made us want to head for the door. Whatever you do, don’t be that manager!

Perhaps you are a company owner who has managers reporting to you. Use this list to consider whether problems may be due to the workers or the managers over them. Having bad managers doesn’t just make work uncomfortable. Bad managers are bad for business.

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Here are some qualities of a bad manager to be on the lookout for. If you see any in yourself, consider how you may improve.


This seems to come to the top of almost every worker’s list of bad manager traits. Micromanagers may think they’re being conscientious and detail-oriented, but they’re not trusting their teams to do the things they’ve entrusted them to do. Signs of micromanagement include requiring lots of meetings and approvals for each step of a project. If the goals would still be met without these checks, you may be holding the reins too tightly. You’ve hired workers for their skills and expertise. Trust them.

Poor Communication Skills

A manager’s primary duty is to make sure that the work gets done effectively. That means communicating what needs to be done, when it should be done, and the standards by which it will be measured. Managers may need to mediate between workers or departments, as well as with customers. If workers frequently end up making the same mistakes, it could be a sign that their boss hasn’t been instructing them correctly. 


Some managers think being placed in management is all about the title or the higher salary. They don’t realize that they are there to be facilitators. Maybe they have anger issues. Maybe they have other unresolved issues that have nothing to do with work. Maybe they’re just shy themselves. Whatever the reason, some workers just find some managers hard to approach when problems occur. 

Lack of Preparation

Managers need to place the team in a position to win. That means giving the team members what they need to get the job done, whether that means tools, instructions, money, supplies, or paperwork. If managers haven’t taken the time to figure out what the team needs, everyone loses. This kind of manager may be overwhelmed or under pressure. 


Things happen. Sometimes they happen because a worker made a mistake or because a boss didn’t give instructions. Sometimes they happen because of an inefficient process. When good managers run into problems, they look for solutions; they don’t look for someone to blame. Managers who blame shift may be insecure about their abilities or their value within the organization. 


While some bosses like to shift blame when something goes wrong. Other — or perhaps the same — bosses like to take credit when something goes well. Workers enjoy having their work appreciated. They’re more likely to contribute when they’re acknowledged. Nothing shuts down teamwork and collaboration than team members feeling like their ideas are going to be stolen. Like blame-shifting managers, those who take undue credit are often insecure. If this is you, relax! Managers with high-performing team members also get ahead! You can move beyond blame-shifting and credit-taking by learning how to promote growth and personal development in the workplace.

If any of these sound like your or the managers beneath you, don’t despair. None of these traits are innate or unfixable. Here are some steps that will help you go from being a bad manager to becoming a leader.

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