Work Happier

The 5 Disorders Of
Terrible Managers

Written by Grovo

Having a bad manager is like eating a bad burrito at lunch: it’s uncomfortable and stressful and makes you want to quit your job. The sad thing is, a stressed-out employee usually means the manager is struggling too. Here are five disorders managers suffer from that inspire talented employees to take their talents elsewhere.

They’ve turned into a robot.

There needs to be some sort of human interaction between a manager and their reports. Talented employees don’t have the patience to answer to a machine. They want to work with people. They want managers who challenge them, give them space when necessary, and have their best interests at heart. And if they don’t get these kinds of managers, they leave.

Hello subordinate. 100-page report. Due in zero one one zero one zero one…

They are Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

Some managers make the foolish mistake of not trusting capable employees. Instead, they clutch all the precious work tightly to their bodies to prevent anyone messing it up. They lurk in the shadows hungrily micromanaging every task. As a result, employees are not only creeped out, they’re not challenged or even interested at work. And they leave.


Not a culture fit.

They have no idea what they’re doing.

Employers often think that when an employee excels in their position, the next step is management. So the employee gets magically turned into a manager overnight. But because they lack experience and management skills, they can’t figure out how to handle their new responsibilities. And while they’re hoping no one will notice that they are just drinking coffee all day, all their employees sneak out the back door.

They are a hater.

Have you ever had a manager who undercut everything you said? Who criticized everything you turned in? That was a bad manager. It could be that they really didn’t like you, or they were insecure about their position, or maybe they had eaten a bad burrito at lunch. Regardless of the reason, hater-managers suck at keeping people on the team. A manager should view their reports as teammates looking for direction, not threats.


Keep that burn book to yourself.

They go soft.

A pushover can be just as hard to work for as someone who is overbearing. Flimsy feedback, aimless instructions, nebulous objectives: these are the signs that a manager needs to toughen up. The solution isn’t necessarily a matter of demeanor; it’s a matter of vision. If a manager understands exactly what their team goals are and the way in which they need to be achieved, they’ll also understand that being constructively demanding isn’t a turn-off for employees—it’s an opportunity for alignment.

Everything that comes across his desk is “good enough.”

So what is the cure for these disorders? Done right, it’s very simple: management training. Management is it’s own beast. Of course knowledge of the position(s) you manage is essential, but it takes a unique set of interpersonal and practical skills to be a good manager.

Yes it’s unfortunate that these skills don’t just naturally blossom in most people once the word “manager” is tacked onto the end of their title. But what’s nice is that they can be learned. And if the managers at your company learned them well, then your employees will want to stay and grow with you.

Not everyone is born to be a great manager. Luckily, there’s training for that. Download our guide Good Manager, Bad Manager: New Research on the Modern Management Deficit to learn more.