Examples of Bad Management Styles
Being a manager or business owner is challenging. Some days you might feel as if you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions—and none of them take you where you want to go! Everyone has leadership strengths and weaknesses, and it can be tough to acknowledge your own shortcomings.
During stressful times as a leader, stay self-aware so you don’t slip into negative patterns of behavior. Micromanaging, instilling fear, or disparaging your employees leads to a toxic and unproductive work environment.
That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of these common—and some not-so-common—bad management styles:
The Poor Communicator
Poor communicators have trouble clearly articulating instructions, goals, and expectations, and they have trouble listening to and understanding others’ points of view. They may fail to provide proper training on key tasks, assuming that certain aspects of the job are “common knowledge.” They often give partial or confusing instructions. And, when workers share concerns, poor communicators may tune them out.
If you notice that your workers frequently fail to meet expectations, maybe you have not provided clear instructions. Take a few minutes to thoroughly review procedures to make sure you are all on the same page. For complex tasks, schedule training sessions to ensure that workers gain necessary skills and truly understand the procedures and protocols. Ask for feedback and listen to what they have to say, as well, repeating back comments in your own words to convey your understanding.
The Unfocused Manager
Another example of bad management styles is the unfocused manager who muddles through each day without any sort of plan or direction. Employees who work with unfocused managers tend to feel as if their own work lacks meaning or purpose. Having a clear vision of your company’s mission—and an understanding of what steps need to be taken to fulfill that mission—can help you stay focused on the big picture in the midst of the day-to-day grind. Take a few minutes each day to remind yourself of your objectives, and share this with your employees regularly. Set simple short-term and long-term goals and chart your progress to stay focused.
Micromanagers show little faith in the talents and abilities of others. They tend to be overly controlling and are likely to handle all company decision-making. They may hover over employees excessively or they may take over projects midstream, without giving workers a chance to complete the task. Micromanaging is damaging to employee morale because it makes workers feel powerless, ineffective and incapable.
If you think that you might have micromanaging tendencies, ask yourself why you feel the need to handle everything yourself. Are you worried that your employees will make mistakes that will hurt the business? Do you feel as if no one can do the job as well as you? Challenge yourself to overcome these ideas by taking a fresh look at your employees’ skills and delegating certain tasks with a hands-off approach. Start with simple tasks and work your way up to more complex projects. Focus more on results and less on process by reminding yourself that there is usually more than one right way to do something.
The Indecisive Manager
Do you have difficulty making hard decisions or sticking to a plan once it’s formed? If you often find yourself wavering on issues or changing your mind to suit your current audience, you might find that your employees are running in circles, too. There’s nothing wrong with reassessing situations or changing your mind based on new information—in fact, those are good executive attributes—but if you switch courses to please others or to avoid facing a challenge, you may be damaging your business and credibility as a leader.
One tip to help you avoid this bad management style: think carefully before announcing decisions. Whenever possible, take the time to digest all sides of an issue before stating your course of action. When you inevitably do find it necessary to alter course, examine the reasons why and share them with your employees. If the shift is based on logic and reason, workers are likely to see you as decisive instead of uncertain.
The Abusive Manager
Abusive managers lead by instilling fear and creating a hostile climate that makes employees feel unappreciated and apathetic. This is the most damaging of all bad management styles. Managers who make inappropriate remarks, belittle or demean employees, or lash out in anger risk damaging their reputation and losing valuable employees. Abusive leaders lack empathy and are rigid and unyielding. They see things in stark terms and are often unforgiving of even minor mistakes or transgressions. When dealing with a problem, they tend to focus on placing blame rather than finding solutions. These negative, tyrannical behaviors can cripple an organization by stifling creativity and teamwork.
Although everyone overreacts occasionally, if you find yourself losing your temper often or engaging in these types of behaviors, it may be time to seek professional help. There may be unresolved issues that make it difficult for you to maintain emotional stability, which is essential in the workplace. Look for a qualified therapist or find a professional development course that focuses on “soft skills” to help you improve your ability to work effectively with others.
Reduce Stress to Become a Better Leader
As a manager, you set the tone for the workplace atmosphere. If you are calm and focused, your employees are more likely to be calm and focused. If you’re frazzled and overwhelmed, your employees are likely to feel the same.
Many bad management styles can be overcome by reducing daily stress. Take regular breaks, eat well, and take time to connect with your employees. Engaging in group activities—holiday parties or summer picnics, for example—or celebrating small victories with a pizza party or ice cream can go a long way in strengthening work relationships!
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