Seven Habits of Failing Managers

Team Building | By Duncan Haughey | Read time minutes

A confused and angry businessman looking at some documents

Today, I want to spend a few moments looking at some of the signs a manager is failing. I have met people who do as I describe and, in the process, have damaged their teams and themselves. Far from helping their projects succeed, they have jeopardised their chances of success.

How many of these traits do you recognise in yourself or your colleagues?

1. Wanting to Do Everything Yourself

Showing frustration that you cannot control every aspect of a project or activity can be disruptive. This desire comes from a lack of trust and a belief that the project would be run better and guarantee success if only you could do everything yourself.

2. Ambushing Suppliers

Another sign of a failing manager is ambushing suppliers. Dissatisfaction with suppliers from time to time is not unusual. However, it's less than professional to invite them to a meeting and launch a surprise attack when they're unprepared.

3. Disrupting Meetings

The next sign is arriving late to meetings. This behaviour is very disruptive on its own, but worse still is forcing the meeting to start again and wasting everybody's time.

4. Not Trusting Your Team

Like our first trait, if you don't have confidence in the people working for you, you either have employed the wrong people or have trust issues. People should be accountable for their performance. Do you have evidence that people aren't trustworthy?

5. Shouting Not Leading

I don't recall seeing a leadership style by shouting in any management textbook. You will lose all respect from your team if you adopt a shouting approach. Usually, it leads to you becoming an object of ridicule. If you feel frustrated, keep your temper in check and kick the cat when you get home (metaphorically speaking, of course).

6. Getting Personal

It's never acceptable to judge people by how they look and act - anything like fat man or stupid woman is never fine for anyone on your team to say. Worse is re-enforcing negative gender or racial stereotypes. You must never tolerate this behaviour and should deal with any occurrences quickly and decisively.

7. Not Communicating

A sure sign of failing managers is a lack of communication. They become withdrawn and inward-looking. Once communications break down, they become more frustrated and start blaming people for their shortcomings.

Is This You?

What should you do if you recognise any of these traits in yourself?

First, think about the impact you're having on other people. Put yourself in their shoes, and ask whether you're helping them achieve the team's objectives.

Next, write a plan that will help you change. How will you communicate more effectively if you have become withdrawn and inward-looking? Perhaps you will decide to attend and contribute to team meetings or make an effort to engage with team members every week.

Then, take stock of progress every week. Have you slipped back to your unacceptable ways? Keep trying. Persevere. It's not easy to change. It will take time to restore the trust of your team. Don't expect an overnight change.

It's time to stop failing and to start succeeding.

Recommended read: Why You Should Stop Making Snap Judgements, by Duncan Haughey.


What's Next?

You may also be interested in