1. Bad managers are not held accountable
If the manager of managers (in some cases the owner or CEO) does not hold managers accountable for delivering results based on the organization’s goals, they can easily stay under the radar. Organizations that don’t track progress or have measured goals each month, quarter and year are ripe for this problem. If the team is “being carried” by a few super capable employees and the CEO doesn’t realize that the team is still underperforming, the bad manager is safe.
2. Bad managers are not transparent about their team’s progress
It can be easy to hide if a team is not performing and employees are unhappy if the manager is not being held accountable, as outlined above. If CEOs don’t demand accountability, bad managers will run rampant. This is partially why I built Weekly Update (a tool to help team’s share written status updates each week) — it transparently shows progress so teams can be accountable for results.
3. Bad managers make it difficult for employees to escalate concerns
A frequent habit of bad managers is to block employees access to other teams and leaders in the company by routing everything through himself. This means that he is able to hide unhappy employees / poor results because he can put his own twist on the story. His superiors don’t have effective access to his employees to ask for an accurate picture of what’s happening.
4. Bad managers make it seem like they are hard to replace if fired
Poor managers often paint a picture that they are working so hard to keep the ship afloat, and that at any minute it can all come crashing down. Executives come to rely on those managers, not necessarily their good employees, because they’ve been convinced that manager is a savior, when actually he is a bottleneck.
5. Bad managers keep domain knowledge close
Another common habit of bad managers is to be very guarded about domain knowledge. If their department uses a software system, he’ll try to ensure that nobody else knows how to use it, and he’ll rarely make any documentation. This feeds into the point made in #4… it makes it seem like firing that poor manager will be a disaster for the company.
6. Bad managers prevent their employees from advancing
If there are no viable alternatives, upper management may not fire a manager that they know is bad. Poor manager often stunt their employees growth, thus preventing them from becoming real competition for the management job.