Bad boss ... good boss

Joe Sherren
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The behaviors of a bad manager

A businessman I respect and admire is Myron MacDonald, owner of M&M Furniture. He not only has a great reputation for being a successful and fair businessman, but for being an outstanding boss as well.

So I asked how he achieves all this. He stated: “To me it is quite simple. There are two guidelines I follow. One is not to ask an employee to do anything I wouldn’t do myself and then to treat all staff like they are family”.

Myron is also a very humble person and will always give credit to the employee whenever he possibly can.

Of all the social connections we create, the relationship with your employees is the single most important bond you can cultivate at work. There have been studies that have shown that the degree of trust between manager and employee is the prime predictor of productivity and term of employment.

For those who ever watched the sitcom “The Office” you may recall the episode where Stanley experienced heart problems. So the doctor made him wear a monitor to warn him when his heart rate would rise to a dangerous level. What would happen every time (Michael), the totally inept boss, would approach him, the monitor would go off. This made for a funny TV plot. But the truth is, when you have a manager who does not connect with their employees, you will see higher absenteeism, more injuries and lower productivity.

In fact, British researchers found that people who worked for bosses they did not like, had significantly higher blood pressure averages than employees who had a good relationship with their manager.

In a well known Gallop study, employees who agreed with the statement “My supervisor seems to care about me as a person” — were more productive, contributed more to profits and would stay with the organization longer.

So what do bad bosses do? Well, there are eight signs of incompetent managers:

1) They are not good communicators. They forget that manager-employee communication is a two-way street. They talk but seldom listen. Often they don’t read subtle cues from other people’s gestures and tend to interrupt when others are speaking.

2) They don’t instill trust. They do this by not keeping their promises or respect confidences, and are quick to blame others for mistakes.

3) They neglect to clarify expectations for each member of the team and how they can best accomplish their objectives.

4) They don’t distribute work-load equitably and often don’t ensure that tasks aren’t duplicated.

5) They do not connect today`s activities to the long-term Vision of the company.

6) They don’t effectively delegate responsibility — not just tasks. Often it is because they are insecure and reluctant to give up control. Or, they want to keep others down as opposed to providing them the opportunity to grow. Often managers will say “it is just quicker to do it myself”.

7) They panic when faced with unexpected problems and sudden crises, which puts more stress on the staff, when they should be trying to take it away.

8) They over react to daily urgencies instead of proactively anticipating problems and developing contingency plans.

I truly believe that most managers are not bad people. They have just not had the mentoring of a constructive leader or the appropriate training to build their management competency. If you are experiencing less than desired relationships between your managers and staff, I recommend two things.

First, evaluate each manager’s capability by using a 360 degree competency feedback system which gathers feedback from direct reports, peers, supervisors, and managers. And secondly, develop a customized skills development program and mentoring system to build competence, confidence and skills.

My question this week: “What is your organization doing to set your management team up for success and develop constructive employee relationships?”

Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF. Canada’s Management Effectiveness Expert. Book your seat at our upcoming Management Skills Development program scheduled for Oct. 3-4 at Dalvay By The Sea. Call (902) 437-6998 for further information.

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • aliaclark
    September 03, 2013 - 03:56

    These common mistakes managers make can suck the marrow out of any office. It takes preparing and an active dedication to clear communication to make it work.

  • Andrea
    July 15, 2013 - 14:18

    Great article - hopefully some managers out there read this and learn something from it. Respect is a two-way street and some managers neglect to see that.