3 Ways to Be a Terrible Manager

I’m sure by now we’re all familiar with the concept that “people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.” But why? What constitutes a bad manager? Recently I was asked to describe the three qualities that I consider necessary to be a great manager, and I found myself thinking not only of my own (extremely positive) experiences with my manager, but of some of the negative experiences that I’ve heard candidates describe while in search of better opportunities.

With that in mind, if you’re looking to increase turnover on your team, drive away top talent, and potentially receive some very pointed criticisms on Glassdoor, follow the below tips on how you can effectively be a terrible manager.

Photo by SIphotography/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by SIphotography/iStock / Getty Images

1. Don’t Engender Trust. Want to be a terrible manager? Don’t listen to your employees. Create an environment of anxiety. A bad manager makes sure their employees feel that they CANNOT go to them with their struggles or concerns for fear of judgement, negative repercussions, or even losing their job. It goes without saying that a manager of this caliber does not take well to feedback, so employees should never feel secure enough to offer you feedback, or express what they need from you. After all, when it comes to the manager-employee relationship, only good managers promote two-way communication. 

 If you want to be a good manager… build in opportunity for two-way communication. The best managers we work with have consistent one-to-one meetings, giving team members an opportunity to express what’s working, what’s not working, and how management can provide support. This kind of open communication allows team members to feel heard and develop an individual rapport with the manager.

2. Disregard Your Employees’ Career Goals. All terrible managers know that their team members have no further ambitions beyond their current role, so there’s certainly no need to consider (let alone discuss) future goals or career paths with them. Indeed, encouraging your employees to pursue career growth would just lead to open positions on your team, which is more work for you. So really, why go through the trouble? If you want to be a bad manager, keep the career discussions on the backburner, and make sure your employees stagnate on your team until they’re driven to look elsewhere (with no help or guidance from you!).

If you want to be a good manager… stay attuned to each individual’s career path, and act as an advisor as well as their boss. The most successful managers we know check-in regularly with team members to gauge when they are ready to stretch themselves. Sometimes it leads to increased creativity and new opportunities within the company, and other times it leads to new opportunities outside of the organization. Either way, it always reflects well on the manager and is best for both the company and the individual.

3. Set Unrealistic Expectations (or none at all). Setting the bar too high, or too low, is the perfect way to establish yourself as a manager of ill repute. By holding your team to unattainable standards, you’ll ensure that they never know the feeling of achieving their goals, keeping them working tirelessly to no avail. If that seems like too much work for you (after all, setting and communicating goals is hard work!), you could always err on the side of no expectations, keeping your team from ever knowing the gratification that comes with working hard and achieving success. Bonus: If you suck the ambition out of your employees, they’ll probably stick around if for no other reason than laziness, right?

If you want to be a good manager… set clear goals, and celebrate accomplishments. Great managers push their teams to reach outside of their comfort zones to accomplish bigger and better things. Two important aspects of goal-setting are regularly scheduled planning sessions (which help individuals share with the entire team what they hope to accomplish) and accomplishment sessions (take a second to enjoy the victory!).

Of course, not everyone aspires to be a truly terrible manager. If you’re looking to be a great manager, we can help. CFW Careers offers manager training and corporate professional development sessions around topics like interviewing, onboarding, and effective management tactics. Contact Rachel Fagnant-Fassler for more information: Rachel@cfwcareers.com