Home Articles Five sure-fire ways to be a lousy manager

Five sure-fire ways to be a lousy manager


Bad management. In episodes of “The Office,” it’s gut-busting hilarious. In real life, it can be cripplingly expensive.

“The biggest consequences of poor management is high staff turnover,” says Richard Dunks, managing director of Vantage Human Capital, a recruitment and human relations company based in Brisbane. “It will cost one year’s salary for each employee you lose.”

Vantage offered five sure-fire ways to make Michael Scott look like Manager of the Year (in other words, avoid these with the same fervour as you would a Justin Beiber concert), along with suggestions on how to avoid them:

1. Just sit in your office and admire the view

Management means you are expected to, um, manage. Uninspiring leaders are seldom able to motivate staff to strive for their best.

“Be an active manager, not the invisible man or woman,” Dunks says.

One of the first things a new manager should do is make time to talk to each employee privately and to develop a professional rapport. Use these talks to identify team strengths and potential roadblocks to the business’ goals. Conduct a confidential staff survey to help you work out the deeper issues.

“Whether you have a staff of 15 or 6,000, work out a plan so that over a six-month period, you speak to as many staff as possible,” Dunks says.

2. Try to be a pal to everyone

Understand the difference between being a friendly, polite manager and trying to be everyone’s buddy — because it’s nearly impossible to be both. Many of your staff will be put off and some will wonder about your ability to lead.

“At the very least, it will not allow you to be objective about decision-making,” Dunks says.

If, instead of being chummy, you offer meaningful and positive feedback — if you’re approachable and friendly, you can achieve what Dunks calls “the nirvana of all management statuses”: respect.

3. Be the personification of rudeness

Nobody enjoys being bullied, harassed, sworn at, intimidated or humiliated by the boss. No one likes having their ideas stolen by the person in charge.

“I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the years and staff always remember how the boss treated them — if treated poorly, they will leave at the first opportunity,” Dunks says.

He recalls an interviewee who told him she had been sexually harassed by an outside client; she went to her boss, who told her to “toughen up.” She left the company soon after.

“Remember, nine times out of 10, people leave managers, not companies,” Dunk says.

4. Ignore the elephant in the room

If someone on the team is being harassed by someone in the company, it’s likely many other employees will know about it. They will expect the manager — yes, you — to do something about it.

This is where a good human relations manager is invaluable. “Situations can get very complex with many delicate legal matters to consider. So do ask for help and take action,” Dunk says.

5. Put your mouth ahead of your brain

Think strategically. Understand the benefits and repercussions of change. Gather information and execute your business changes professionally.

“We’ve all seen examples of the disorganised manager who makes a decision, then changes his or her mind, with a major impact on staff, their job roles and working life,” Dunk says.

Bottom line: Do what you say and say what you do.

Image by Kevin Dooley