May 092016

Life in the corporate world is hugely affected by managers, so we’ll take a look at ten reasons managers can be terrible.  If you’re a manager, watch out for doing these things and earning a bad reputation.

1. You throw me under the bus

Managers are supposed to look out for their staff, not screw them over.  It’s always better to be fair to someone, talk to them with the benefit of the doubt, and give them a chance to improve.  Badmouthing to them to upper management and summarily firing them is a sign you’re a bad manager.  It makes both you and the company look bad, and the poor employee who has to explain to friends, family, the unemployment office, and possibly to FBI agents for the next 7-10 years when applying for a security clearance.

2. You try to take credit for my work

If your staff is doing such good work that you feel the need to steal credit, then you’re just alienating one of your best people. You can still get credit for getting such good work out of someone without being unethical.

3. You make something trivial into a big deal

Having perspective in life goes a long way.  Don’t pick fights with staff or make them feel bad about some petty thing that’s happened. It won’t gain you anything but disrespect.

4. You don’t get staff input on matters (when you should) before making important decisions

Managers are often not as technical as their staff, and when this is the case, it’s a mistake for a manager to make a decision about how things will go without getting input from those who know.  You’re supposed to be part of a team. Being the boss doesn’t mean bossing people around; it means bringing people together and getting the best performance out of them.

Once that bad decision has been made, and your staff tells you it’s impossible, blaming the situation on them only compounds the problem you’ve created.  I’ve seen this repeatedly and it never ends well, splintering teams apart and earning major disrespect.

5. You tell staff it’s their job to find themselves work to do when that’s actually your job

This shouldn’t need explaining, but companies have proposal writers and other staff (including senior executives) whose job it is to win federal contracts (we’re talking D.C. here) and it’s literally not my job to do this. IT managers assign work to staff. We don’t assign work to ourselves. Or invent projects no one needs.

6. You try to make people do inappropriate work

Those in IT have a specialized skill-set (i.e., software development in certain languages), so trying to make them exclusively do documentation (for years), for example, is not acceptable. Nor is turning someone into your assistant. Or throwing every junk project to the same person.  They’re just going to quit.

7. You become resentful about work/life balance requests

This includes not letting people work from home when they need to, or make up time for an appointment.  Or giving them grief about an emergency.  Or trying to refuse to let them go to a doctor appointment unless they want to get in trouble with you.  Since they’re not a child, don’t try to treat them like one.  It will only earn disrespect – and then they’ll be gone.

8. You change the details of the job for the worse just because you can

I once had a manager tell me on my first day as an employee (after six months as a contractor), that I now had to work 9 hour days instead of 8. We didn’t have a deadline to beat or anything like that. He just did it “because you’re my bitch now” as he put it, with a laugh. Our relationship deteriorated from there.  Don’t try to pull power trips on your staff unless you want their disrespect and resignation.  You may not be an adult, be we are. It won’t go unnoticed.  You are being watched whether you think so or not.

9. The first sign people get that there’s a problem with them is “you’re fired.”

People deserve to be given chances to follow directions or fix mistakes, which could be innocent or have a reasonable explanation.  Not doing so reveals a desire to just fire someone without cause, which is the ultimate in being a bad manager.  This will make the company look bad when people leave bad reviews on sites like

10. You suddenly decide a policy is without flexibility and must be enforced in draconian ways

People get used to doing things a certain way at jobs, even if it’s not according to rules, but that’s how it’s been done forever.  Suddenly cracking down might be okay, but not if you do things like fire people, for example, for doing things the old way for months.  Sudden enforcement must come with warnings or you’ll seem like an ogre.

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Life in the corporate world is hugely affected by managers, so we’ll take a look at ten reasons managers can be terrible.  If you’re a manager, watch out for doing these things and earning a bad reputation. 1. You throw me under the bus Managers are supposed to look out for their staff, not screw them […]


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