7 Signs of a Bad Manager and How to Fix It

Earn Your Employees' Loyalty by Avoiding These Mistakes

You’ve heard it countless times: employees leave their managers, not their company. 

Is this true? And if so, what qualities of a bad manager cause employees to quit?

Kforce commissioned a nationwide survey to find out how 2,000 full-time office workers felt about their work. Nearly half (43%) of the respondents said feeling appreciation from management is a top factor that would make them love their job—even more so than having a clear career path or making an impact.

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Showing appreciation for employees seems relatively easy to do—yet so many managers fail in this area. When asked to give a percentage grade for the quality of their management team, one in five respondents of our survey between the ages of 39 to 54 gave managers a “D” and below.

Here are some characteristics of a bad manager that will have employees running for the door—and what you can do instead.                                                                                                                                                                  

You micromanage them


1. You micromanage them.

You’re an alpha. You relish the idea of holding on to every ounce of power possible. There’s a certain way you want a job to get done. You’d better look over your employees’ shoulders and ensure they are doing everything right.

Or perhaps you’re insecure about your value in the organization. You remain firmly planted in the weeds so that you’re always “in the know” and can demonstrate your value in any given moment. You manage every moment on your team, leaving no detail or question unanswered.

Try this instead:

Fearful managers can be the worst micromanagers. Remember, you hired your employee for a reason. They are skilled, have bright ideas and can be trusted. Let them figure things out without you guiding and dictating every step along the way. Ask more questions, and give fewer answers. Encourage collaboration with their peers and inspire them to come up with ideas. Employees won’t learn nearly as much in a stifling environment where every move is tracked. Give them freedom and watch them grow.

you avoid talking about their career goals


2. You avoid talking about their career goals.

Your employee deserves a promotion, but your hands are tied. You don’t have the budget, and you can’t make it happen—not now. Avoid talking to them about their career goals. Just stick to talking about KPIs and whether their tasks are completed. It’s just easier that way.

Try this instead:

Employees want to feel valued, and what better way to show them they’re appreciated than to be supportive of their career goals. Encourage employees to work on different projects, take on enrichment opportunities or help to redefine their role to ensure they’re fulfilled. Understand what drives your employees. Invest time asking thought-provoking questions, and then be quiet and listen. As managers, you don’t need to pressure yourself to come up with all the answers. Employees will come to their own answers if you foster the environment to do so.

You don’t give them feedback.


3. You don’t give them feedback.

You’ve asked your employee to create something, but then you completely re-do it, without telling them why. Providing detailed feedback is time-consuming, and you’re busy. Plus, giving feedback can be so awkward, so it’s best to avoid it.

Try this instead:

It can be quite frustrating when your manager re-writes or re-designs something you’ve created—and doesn’t explain why. Without feedback, you don’t know where you went wrong, so you don’t know how to avoid it in the future. Don’t pass up teaching opportunities. Slow down and discuss your comments, suggestions and edits with your employee. Remember, you had to learn everything for the first time, too.

You steal their spotlight.


4. You steal their spotlight.

Your team worked around the clock on a project, and it’s a huge success. You love getting the glory, so you scoop up the spotlight without giving any credit to the people who made it happen.

Try this instead:

All of us want to be recognized for our achievements, so give credit where it’s due. Thanking your employees for investing their talent and time into their work is an effective way to make them feel appreciated. Giving authentic praise to your employees in front of their peers can go a long way. Plus, when your employees shine in the spotlight, so do you as their leader!

You ignore workplace conflict.


5. You ignore workplace conflict.

One of your employees is being passive-aggressive, but you look the other way. You hate conflict and prefer to stay out of it. You’ve heard that your employee is gossiping and hurting morale, but you are unsure of what to do, so you do nothing.

Try this instead:

The employee experience rests heavily on your shoulders. As a manager, it’s part of the gig. You need to protect your people from bullying, discrimination and other threats to a safe and positive work environment. When a situation occurs, act swiftly and with empathy. Bring in your HR partner when appropriate, and encourage an open-door policy.

You leave them out of the conversation.


6. You leave them out of the conversation.

You make promises and hope your team can come through without asking for their input first. Your employees can survive a little stress, right? It will all work out, so why bother. They say measure twice, cut once—but pay no heed and shoot for the stars.

Try this instead:

Before finalizing your project plan, consult your team. As a manager, you’re responsible for delegating work that can be achieved within your team’s capabilities, budget and timeframe. Setting your team up for success means understanding the many factors that impact a project and helping each person contribute in the best way possible. When you overpromise and underdeliver, you make your whole team look bad. Understand what’s required to get the job done and be reasonable. No one wants to fail. Include your team when creating your strategy, earning buy-in and alignment along the way.

You dominate every conversation.


7. You dominate every conversation.

You’re very busy, and you’ve got to ensure you get your point across during team meetings. After all, you’re the leader of the group with the most experience, so what’s the harm in throwing your weight around sometimes?

Try this instead:

Be careful not to dominate a conversation with your ideas. When you monopolize a meeting, you prevent other ideas and solutions from surfacing, costing your team innovative solutions and new insights. Encourage your employees to contribute to the conversation, saying phrases such as, “I’d like to hear everyone weigh in on this issue. What do the rest of you think?”

Be the manager your employees stick around for

None of us are born knowing how to inspire others to be their best. Being an inspiring leader is a choice—and can be a fulfilling and meaningful experience. Managing a team has its fair share of challenges, but you have the power to hold on to your top employees for years to come.