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What are the signs of poor management?

Poor management can sink even the most fantastic business

So you're reading this because you've got poor management issues? Welcome to the club! According to Gallup, 82% of companies have got the same problem. 

Clearly, something's wrong, but how do you solve it and whose responsibility is it to sort it out and ensure that the situation improves? If you're a business owner, entrepreneur heading a startup, or a c-suite executive – it's your responsibility. In other words, if you're the head honcho, you're the catalyst of poor management

While that can be a bitter pill to swallow, now's the time for some honest reflection and thorough introspection. Replacing your recruiter, upgrading your applicant tracking system and reading the riot act to line managers and supervisors isn't going to help. You need to set time alone aside, or sit down as the exco-team and take stock.

Poor management costs organizations billions of dollars each year, destroys careers and sees viable businesses get washed down the drain. It's time for honesty and real solutions. 

Where does poor management begin?

Right at the start of the selection process! Whether it's an external hire or an internal promotion, choosing the wrong candidate spells future disaster. Many factors contribute to bad hiring decisions, but here are five of the most common ones.

  1. The employee is good at their job, is loyal and always willing to go the extra mile
  2. The candidate has held a similar position at another company
  3. You chose the candidate with the lowest salary expectation
  4. You made a quick selection because the post needed to get filled urgently
  5. You took the candidate at face value to save on recruitment costs

Why these decisions lead to disaster

1 - Someone who's good at their job and has a great attitude isn't necessarily a good manager.

Managers are made, not born. They need grooming, mentoring and support for quite a few years before getting a significant promotion. Management is about motivating and leading a team to success. Technical skills and experience matter, but people and strategic skills are far more critical. The idea of earning more and the prestige that comes with a management role might make someone accept the job, but they themselves probably don't realize that they're not equipped if they haven't received coaching or been through a management advancement program.

2 - Just because someone has held a similar position somewhere else doesn't mean that they'll fit into your business or buy into the organizational culture.

People are all unique and individual; there's no plug and play when it comes to human behavior.

3 - There's not necessarily a problem with choosing a candidate who has a lower salary expectation.

The problem is if that was your sole reason for the selection. Generally, we get what we pay for, so you have to ensure that they have the level of skill required for the role. If you see potential, but also lack of experience, the cost must get compensated by putting the new hire on an intensive management acceleration program.

4 - Hire in haste, repent at leisure!

Depending on the level of the position, you could end up paying up to six months and more of the bad hire's salary in damage done. And then you'll still have to replace them at an additional cost. Hasty decisions can cause good employees to resign, your brand can get damaged, and you can even end up with issues like fraud. Rather place a temporary hire in the role and take the time you need to identify the best candidate.

5 - Many companies have a proper recruitment process in place but don't do the necessary past employment references, confirmations and verifications.

Confirming that someone worked at a previous company via social media is very different from discussing their work performance with a recent manager. Also, fraudulent qualifications are far more common than you might realize.

Toxic management can bleed from the top down

Sometimes poor management isn’t the result of poor decision making. If the leadership is lacking in any way, it filters down, and employees either follow suit, become demotivated and disengaged, or are too fearful of speaking up.

It becomes a dilemma for leadership. If you’re managing a startup with a handful of employees, how do you know if you have a problem? One of the first signs is a high staff turnover rate. Another symptom is lack of engagement, innovation and sharing ideas. Do your employees feel safe enough to come up with potential solutions, or do they keep quiet for fear of ridicule or reprimand?

If you have business partners or are part of an exco-team, who’s not leading by example? Many leadership teams spend a lot of time strategizing and planning business, but they don’t spend time openly analyzing dynamics within the company. If the business is running in crisis mode, it could be due to a lack of time. But often it’s because of a lack of courage to call someone (or a few) out on bad practices.

Whether you’re a small business or a big corporate, ignoring lousy management practices at the top level will eventually negatively impact the whole organization. Emotional intelligence is essential for every business leader. Executive teams must develop programs where they can spend time analyzing the soft skills side of their organization. Part of that is having the courage to address and resolve issues when they don’t see eye-to-eye instead of just ignoring them.

Five symptoms of poor management

Whether filtering down from the top leadership or restricted in specific departments, poor management leads to reduced productivity, increased employee churn and ultimately a loss in profits. Managers at all levels have a massive influence on how teams, departments and companies function on a day-to-day basis. They impact productivity, quality standards, brand image and much more. They also influence the careers and morale of staff entrusted to them.

Poor management has many faces. Here’s just a few.

Taking all the credit

Even if you have only one employee, you’re a team. Every business success is the result of many minds and hands. Leaders who take all the credit without acknowledging their team will eventually suffocate employee enthusiasm. Putting in hours of energy and passion then not even getting a nod of recognition results in employees who merely go through the motions.

Laying blame

Every project or department will face challenges, and people make mistakes. Leaders who publicly blame and admonish people, whether they deserve it or not, stymie all learning opportunities. A mistake can be a great experiential chance to teach someone or even a team. 

Blaming people instils fear in everyone and encourages an environment of silence or shifting responsibility. No one wants to be humiliated, so they stay on the safe side and do as little as possible. 

Lack of trust

Insecure leaders can stifle their team by denying them the freedom of growth and development through trial and error. Micromanagement and refusing to allow employees to explore their potential by giving them greater responsibilities destroys team spirit. 

Unavailable and lack of empathy

No leader can expect to run a productive concern if they have a closed-door policy. Part of management is regularly engaging with staff. An approachable leader will become aware of issues before they become problems. Also, they’ll know when an employee is out of their depth and be able to implement steps to avoid problems. 

Managers who are unavailable stay in the dark and also never get to know their staff. Apart from missing out on opportunities to avert glitches or recognize undeveloped talent, they make people feel unappreciated. 

“Do as I say, not as I do!”

Managers who don’t follow company policies but expect their staff to, lose respect. Expecting people to work overtime when they take time off for golf or strolling in late from the gym, doesn’t go unnoticed. 

While indiscretions might not be this obvious, over time, employees will pick up on double standards. Once credibility has been lost, it’s very hard to regain.

What great managers do

  • They share the glory and take the fall (they should’ve seen issues before they became problems).
  • They live the company mission and vision and motivate every employee to do the same everyday – irrespective of what’s going down.
  • They’re transparent and encourage a culture of accountability.
  • They’re fair, making decisions based on facts rather than popularity.
  • They have the emotional intelligence to resolve disputes amicably.
  • They’re willing to listen to employees and management to find solutions.
  • They’re assertive in a positive way that builds employee and brand confidence.
  • They build relationships throughout the organization at every level, and give recognition and treat people with respect.

Is it possible to fix poor management?

If a manager is causing real damage to an organization, the board must have the power and courage to get rid of them. But that’s not the only, and necessarily the best decision — a solid talent development program will likely get you the best return-on-investment, and be less disruptive to the team. 

And what if you’re the business owner and you realize that your management skills aren’t that great?

Understanding the underlying causes of motivations and behaviors helps you implement measures to bring about change. The first step is to identify where blind spots exist in the manager’s responses. Knowing what you’re dealing with makes it much easier to select the best training and coaching methods. 

Blind spots, like unconscious biases, won’t disappear if they’re not recognized and addressed. They also won’t disappear overnight. Undoing deep-rooted motivations that drive destructive behaviors takes time, trust and guidance.

The app that solves poor management

F4S is a people analytics platform that can help you identify motivators for poor management within your team or yourself. An online assessment will quickly identify blind spots, and our real-time coaching service will help you align management attitudes and behaviors with a happy and profitable business.    

F4S is a people analytics app that can identify motivators that contribute to poor management within your team or yourself. An online assessment will quickly identify blind spots (and talents), and our personalized coaching programs will help you strategically develop better leadership skills. 

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