Leadership optimize

10 signs of incompetent managers

Here are 10 characteristics that most bad managers have in common.

I came across a great piece about traits that incompetent managers share. Written by Margaret Heffernan for FastCompany.com, this no-nonsense piece cuts to the chase and is about as true a list as I've ever seen. Here are the traits of incompetent managers, according to Ms. Heffernan:

  1. Bias against action: There are always plenty of reasons not to take a decision, reasons to wait for more information, more options, more opinions. But real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don't make mistakes generally don't make anything. Legendary ad man David Ogilvy argued that a good decision today is worth far more than a perfect decision next month. Beware prevaricators.
  2. Secrecy: "We can't tell the staff," is something I hear managers say repeatedly. They defend this position with the argument that staff will be distracted, confused or simply unable to comprehend what is happening in the business. If you treat employees like children, they will behave that way -- which means trouble. If you treat them like adults, they may just respond likewise. Very few matters in business must remain confidential and good managers can identify those easily. The lover of secrecy has trouble being honest and is afraid of letting peers have the information they need to challenge him. He would rather defend his position than advance the mission. Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust.
  3. Over-sensitivity: "I know she's always late, but if I raise the subject, she'll be hurt." An inability to be direct and honest with staff is a critical warning sign. Can your manager see a problem, address it headlong and move on? If not, problems won't get resolved, they'll grow. When managers say staff is too sensitive, they are usually describing themselves. Wilting violets don't make great leaders. Weed them out. Interestingly, secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together. They are a bias against honesty.
  4. Love of procedure: Managers who cleave to the rule book, to points of order and who refer to colleagues by their titles have forgotten that rules and processes exist to expedite business, not ritualize it. Love of procedure often masks a fatal inability to prioritize -- a tendency to polish the silver while the house is burning.
  5. Preference for weak candidates: We interviewed three job candidates for a new position. One was clearly too junior, the other rubbed everyone up the wrong way and the third stood head and shoulders above the rest. Who did our manager want to hire? The junior. She felt threatened by the super-competent manager and hadn't the confidence to know that you must always hire people smarter than yourself.
  6. Focus on small tasks: Another senior salesperson I hired always produced the most perfect charts, forecasts and spreadsheets. She was always on time, her data completely up-to-date. She would always volunteer for projects in which she had no core expertise -- marketing plans, financial forecasts, meetings with bank managers, the office move. It was all displacement activity to hide the fact that she could not do her real job.
  7. Inability to hire former employees: I hired a head of sales once with (apparently) a luminous reputation. But, as we staffed up, he never attracted any candidates from his old company. He'd worked in sales for twenty years -- hadn't he mentored anyone who'd want to work with him again? Every good manager has alumni, eager to join the team again; if they don't, smell a rat.
  8. Allergy to deadlines: A deadline is a commitment. The manager who cannot set, and stick to deadlines, cannot honor commitments. A failure to set and meet deadlines also means that no one can ever feel a true sense of achievement. You can't celebrate milestones if there aren't any.
  9. Addiction to consultants: A common -- but expensive -- way to put off making decisions is to hire consultants who can recommend several alternatives. While they're figuring these out, managers don't have to do anything. And when the consultant's choices are presented, the ensuing debates can often absorb hours, days, months. Meanwhile, your organization is poorer but it isn't any smarter. When the consultant leaves, he takes your money and his increased expertise out the door with him.
  10. Long hours: In my experience, bad managers work very long hours. They think this is a brand of heroism but it is probably the single biggest hallmark of incompetence. To work effectively, you must prioritize and you must pace yourself. The manager who boasts of late nights, early mornings and no time off cannot manage himself so you'd better not let him manage anyone else.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

121 comments
Reality Bites
Reality Bites

Good until the last, number 10 is too limited of a view. Working for a company that was almost going out of business due to bad management, I worked very long hours for 2 yrs. The management was replaced with competent people and the company successfully sold to another company.  When I resigned they hired 3 people to replace me, sometimes long hours are just because there is a set amount of work and too few people to do it.  Not saying time management isn't very important.

deepShobhit
deepShobhit

Very true.... One of the worst statement I've often heard is "I'm not here to do the work, I'm here to get the work done from you..."; vhhheeeee... well, according to my concepts, it should be "We are here to finish the job, I'll take care of distractions as well for getting it done..."

delphi9_1971
delphi9_1971

I've often been flabbergasted by the need of some managers to feel that they need to promote someone in to management who is clearly good at what they do, but poor at managing others. Simply for reasons such as: "he/she has been here for a long time..." or "They feel a need to reward someone for a job well done.." or "We don't have the budget to give them more money so lets give them more responsibility as a reward..." The problem with this approach is that the now newly promoted person A: doesn't really want the responsibility, B: isn't cut out for the job or C: becomes so overworked because now they have to do two jobs that performance suffers. All the while the morale of the rest of the team suffers.

JasonKB
JasonKB

7. Is one I'd not heard before but it is dead on. Good managers should be grooming a replacement so that they can move up the chain of command when the time comes. 10. Is right on too. Typical of a poor manager who is also a workaholic, is long hours but not much more productivity than a good one working 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, if you have a workaholic CEO who thinks long hours is how things get done and you're some poor fool who can get the job in 40 hours a week you either end up sitting around trying to look busy or go home on time and be miss-judged a poor performer. Considering the work quality of most workaholics is poor to begin with they are blind to what efficiency looks like, so they see the 40-hour people as slackers or not interested in the companies progress.

LarryD4
LarryD4

Toni, I love your blogs, but in the end it just makes me realize how bad off I am. But their is always light at the end of the tunnel!

dwdino
dwdino

Having worked with, been, and interacted with many different levels of management within IT, long hours are somewhat a requirement. Currently, my hours are less than they have been in the past, but with 15 hats to wear and the limitations on staffing, all parties work extended hours. So, I would be cautious about #10. If there are long hours being worked and little is being accomplished, I would agree with you. Alternately, if the long hours drive substantial progress necessary to "keep the ship afloat", I would wear it as a badge of honor.

a.barry
a.barry

What sort of person would accept a "promotion" like that? Perhaps they have no choice. In my old company, "promoting" someone to management was usually a sign that they were being gotten rid of. They would get an office, quotas they couldn't possibly make, and usually be gone in a month or so.

Triathlete1981
Triathlete1981

Before I had it out with my boss about staying long hours, I would sometimes finish my work by 5 and simply goof off on the Internet for the next hour to show I was still present. Too bad it was just a body in a seat! If I'm efficient and get my work done by 5, what's the point of staying after? Just to show that I'm there? That's ridiculous.

erh7771
erh7771

...and makes life hard for employees. I've found it real hard to ask about turn over in an interview and have to sneak questions in to get answers regarding how many people have left that manager.

enduroktm300
enduroktm300

I try to avoid these posts about bad manager this/bad managers that; I like to make my own path and success. That being said, I got fired from my very first IT job by one of these individuals. In fact, this is the third or fourth such article in TR that points out poor managment traits (that I've read) and my former boss has scored a high percentage everytime. Imagine this...our network was overloaded, under-updated, and vulnerable to a host of exploits. The guy really was a tool-bag.

john.spenceley
john.spenceley

Being overstretched and facing non win situations on an ongoing basis leads to body shutdown. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually an oncoming express train

toni.bowers
toni.bowers

If it helps, consider that you're not alone in having a boss that's not up to standards. Since many companies don't seem to consider management a skill that is worth teaching to promoted employees, quite a few "bad" managers are out there. Keep your eye on that light at the end of the tunnel--it's there.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

that light is just another d@mn train! ;)

pwoodctfl
pwoodctfl

I have to agree with the original article...you cannot make up in effort for what you lack in talent. Taking on more than you can handle and then working yourself into exhaustion is not good management. The results are inevitably disasterous.

HvyHitR
HvyHitR

With the reduction in workforce its increasingly difficult to accomplish the same workload that was previously accomplished in 8 hours. Everyone is working harder with fewer resources.

sean.murphy
sean.murphy

And that is what this is about, the 80 percent, not the 20. Looking at the 80 percent of time, if somebody is consistently working long hours it is either a resource deficiency or a deficiency of the resource. Meaning either the company is cheating by not adequately staffing the job or the resource is not competent and cannot do his/her job properly.

Rosemary Gredler
Rosemary Gredler

There is some truth to an employee who works longs hours and catergorized as incompetent. Based on my expereince in order to qualify an employee as incompetent due to long hours it is usually tied to playing the "victimization" role. This is very common. The first year at one of my companies I worked for I worked very long hours and weekends. After 2 years and reorganizing and properly staffing the company in addition to firming up the infrastructure with clear procedures and processes, my work week is relatively smooth and easily within a 40 hours work week. But it first took a lot of work to get there. Now I know who the under performers are and they do say they work long hours but I don't see much produced.

LaCiguapa
LaCiguapa

I would not be too carefeful with number 10, there are managers that will spend their days macromanaging their teams, hence having less time to complete their own tasks, hence making the team stay longer to complete those tasks for them, and even longer when they insists on macromanaging the team all the way.

haddesah
haddesah

[Not sure about #10 Having worked with, been, and interacted with many different levels of management within IT, long hours are somewhat a requirement. Currently, my hours are less than they have been in the past, but with 15 hats to wear and the limitations on staffing, all parties work extended hours. So, I would be cautious about #10. If there are long hours being worked and little is being accomplished, I would agree with you. Alternately, if the long hours drive substantial progress necessary to "keep the ship afloat", I would wear it as a badge of honor"]. Sorry but I don't agree with this - I agree with #10. As a wife, mother, and housewife I have seen and lived thru the almost complete breakdown of our 32yr marriage & home, and the mental and emotional state of our children and myself while a much loved husband and father worked thru long and very late hours. It has cost me my health and I am now semi-invalid and mostly housebound. My husband produced excellent results for work but crap results for home! In every other way he's a good person, an excellent provider, but thought he had to work all hours to produce results that he wanted for his company. He eventually learnt how to plan and prioritise his time, which gave him more time at home ~ and it saved his marriage ~ with better results at work than he's ever had before! If your single, go ahead and work all hours, but if your not, than your first priority should be your family. Otherwise all you will be left with when you retire is a sad old armchair and your tv.

emilio.espinoza
emilio.espinoza

If someone need to stay late its either sign of incompetence or its that the person has too much work to accomplish, not other reasons. If the work load is heavy and you need to stay late, your boss might be very happy that do not needs to increase the staff. Either he do not wants to increase which means its abusing of your time or its incompetent to see that.

GoodOh
GoodOh

"Into the valley of death rode the 600" Claiming long hours as an honour is as ludicrous as coveting a posthumous medal. It may be required very occasionally but it is ALWAYS a sign of incompetence on someone's behalf. If a manager let's themself get put into such a position they are NOT MANAGING. I am not claiming that it is sometimes the lesser evil or is somtimes the best response to the situation but it is ALWAYS something to be ashamed of. Anyone who thinks extended unreasonabl hours are something to be proud of is failing in their responsibilities as an adult and if they are a leader they are failing as a leader too. We (almost) all do it, or have done it, but it is never honourable. It is always a sign of failure and always something to hide and be ashamed of.

susana.c.fernandes
susana.c.fernandes

My boss often arrives later than everyone else and always leaves before everyone else. This (along with the fact that he is married to another high member of the staff and they always leave and arrive together), is a bad example to the staff and contributes to the lack of respect we all feel for both of them. Although they have separate functions, they're unnable to work despite one another.

tegrit2
tegrit2

That is a hell of a catch-22, is it not?

shaungardiner220
shaungardiner220

I tend to agree with #10. If you are continually having to work long hours something is broken be it your system or your staffing or something. Occasional long hours are always necessary but long hours all the time shows something that is wrong overall.

grappl
grappl

With the current economic situation, managers are not only performing managerial duties, but also those of employees who were part of the "cut-backs". I agree with dwdino that the long hours should be validated to determine if it is inefficiency vs. actual workload.

shodges119
shodges119

Since it was replied to repeatedly and people seem to agree this is my opinion. If you see #10 accompanied by the others then she is absolutely correct. #10 alone should not be seen as a weakness in all cases.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

But I agree with Tony. Working more than 40 hours a week for long periods of time is a sign of bad management somewhere along the line. Either the case for hiring additional staff isn't being presented properly or no one cares. I've worked those long hours and paid for it with my personal happiness and health. Working overtime on a consistent basis is many things, but honorable is not one of them. I am on a networking team and wear many hats myself. I coordinate with ems services, building maintenance and countless other entities in regards to power situations, disaster preparedness and anything else relating dealing with the structure/utilities that may even remotely affect IT. I help put together RFP's and review bids. I have countless meetings with non IT staff to explain what we're doing or beg for money. I help deploy design and deploy infrastructure to new buildings. There are many aspects to my job just like practically anyone in IT these days, and somewhere along the line there is some actual networking thrown in. But I work 40 hours a week. The only exception would be new building deployments. Even then the only week with overtime will be the actual cutover week, and I usually take the following week off to make up for it. To each his own, but OT on a regular basis leads to degrading health and a neglected home life. Given enough time it happens to anyone. You simply can't have a balanced life working 50-60+ hours a week. Long hours will inevitably take a toll on your mind, body and soul. Eventually you become less productive and motivated, thus necessitating those long hours as part of a vicious cycle. It is an all too easy trap to fall into.

arignote
arignote

The only problem is they have tenure and are hard to get rid of. So they usually do a lot of damage, before moving on to another agency. In case you were wondering were your tax dollars go.

Richard-HK
Richard-HK

Before any body fires back a salvo in retribution for me playing the "team" card, I actually have two takes on this, so please consider everything. First, let's assume the following situation: - There is a short term staff shortage or unusual, but not too long, period of heavy workload. - The department manager has made an effort to effectively balance the workload, but workload inequities exist because there are tasks that require specific technical skills. - Everyone is working as efficiently as possible (I know, this is a dream, because there is always at least one person who is a slacker). - You can get your work done in 40, but the others need 50-60 hours or more (remember, we are assuming everyone is productive, just some people are overloaded) - Do you go home after 40 hours or sit playing internet games while your peers are struggling, because after all, the other work isn't "your job"? Or, do you go to the manager or peers, acknowledge the temporarily heavy workload, and volunteer to take on some work to help out others so that maybe everyone can go home in 45 to 50 hours, instead of a few working 60+ hours? For most effective managers who are trying to do the best they can, often under less than ideal conditions, the person who claims to have "done MY job" in 40 hours and wants to leave while others are still working is not much of a long term value to the group. If you are part of a group, you pitch in and help the group, even if it isn't "your job". That said, there are a lot of excess work hour situations that don't fit my list of assumptions and should not be tolerated. - There are slackers on the team. - There are managers who don't appropriately balance work loads, if the organisation has granted them the decision making authority to shift work within the department (there are companies in which a lower level manager changing work allocations without having specifically delegated authority is treated about the same as someone encouraging a political rebellion). - There are managers who evaluate performance based on face time, rather than on work completed. - There are managers who couldn't manage their own time if their lives depended on it and their inefficiency bleeds out into the department. I have worked in these situations, stayed longer in some than I should have, and have come to the conclusion that for the future, I'd rather be job hunting than work in those conditions again. Unfortunately, #10 seems to be written assuming that the manager actually has control over his/her workload, beyond just the choice of working for the company or quiting. I've seen many situations in which management autonomy doesn't exist except in academic textbooks and the minds of staff who have never been managers. If the excessive work hours is long term condition or wide spread in the company, the issue is more likely ineffective organisation structure or staffing level decisions by the top execs. Everyone below that level, even the middle and lower managers, are victims of the organisation, just like the people in non-management positions. Has anyone worked for an organisation in which the senior execs have mandated a "lean" organisation accompanied by staff reductions, without evaluating the changes in organisation structure, procedures, and task reassignments necessary to still get the work done? In one organisation I worked for, corporate execs mandated elimination of the assistant manager position for my area at every division. No reduction in assignments, reports, or tasks, however, plus we were heading into the annual budgeting cycle with a new system that no one outside corporate had used before. Operating volumes had increased in the years preceding the decision, so most divisions had planned to request a staffing addition as part of the next budget. As result of the corporate mandate for staff reduction, my department was effectively down 2 people (the eliminated assistant manager and the additional staff request that was not approved) even though volume and corporate reporting requirements increased. The CFO and the VP Finance gave presentations to the group at the training conference for the new planning system. At the morning session, the CFO said that corporate execs recognized how much work everyone was putting in, appreciated everyone's commitment to the corporation, and that they were trying to come up with alternatives that would allow workloads to be reduced so that we could have something resembling a family life. Of course, the alternatives would not include additional staff. At the afternoon session, the VP Finance said he was tired of hearing everyone whine about 60+ hour work weeks, that there wasn't going to be any reduction in reporting demands by corporate, and if we had problems getting our work done in 60+, then we should take more of it home and work in bed like he did. I stuck it out for 6 months with an escalating workload, no authority to change procedures or task assignments (corporate staff knew who their contacts were for each activity) and no approval to hire staff. One Sunday during a brief appearance at home on a break from a 100 hour work week to meet multiple budgeting and reporting deadlines, my 5 year old daughter asked whether I would ever be home in the evenings again to read to her before bed. That put things into perspective for me, although her question should not have been necessary. Shortly after that, I resigned. After I resigned, corporate finally decided that eliminating the assistant manager position hadn't been such a great idea. The new department manager got the benefit in reduced workload and I got the benefit of exercising my choice not to work for that company ever again. Considering what I've been reading about the effects of staff reductions, which many studies show are not that effective in either actually reducing cost or in improving the effectiveness of a company, I suspect that my situation is far from being unique. So, if your manager is working a lot of hours and is expecting you to also work a lot of hours, try to evaluate whether it is because he/she can't manage their time or because he/she values face time above work completed or because of unreasonable organisational demands set by those at the top. The first 2 indicate a problem manager. However, if the excess work hours are a long term condition, all 3 indicate that you should consider whether that is the company where you want to work.

JasonKB
JasonKB

I've found that companies where the CEO and senior managers have been in place a long time AND there are long term employees is a good indicator of a place that, while not perfect, is tolerable. Any organization that has gone through a few CEOs in the last five years and has had some "new blood" upper management is likely to be full of confused, bitter and acrimonious people. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt etc. Read through a companies annual reports to see how many re-alignments they've been through, or how many "extraordinary charges" are on the balance sheet (I may not have the exact term here, but this is where restructuring charges usually show on the balance sheet). This won't help at the departmental level but will give you an inkling of when a company is in trouble.

LarryD4
LarryD4

Its the Ole boy Executive Train, about to barrel through and leave you flapping in its dust.

AmethystWoman
AmethystWoman

so, esp beware the boss who diddles away the day NOT being available to YOU when you need their approval to complete a project until 5:05pm every single time. They insist you be there at 9 am, no breaks are allowed, but leaving on time is NOT their concern. People who don't respect YOUR time and you ability to set limits on them, are pretty impossible to work for also. A boss who is afraid of an employee who has the ability to set limits, clearly has some issues of their own. "Well, it's time for me to leave now, perhaps tomorrow you will set aside time during the work day to go over my proposal" turns out can get you a pretty bad review! Beware bosses without boundaries and esp those who fear healthier people who CAN set them.

MikeGall
MikeGall

How exactly do you hire another manager with that? Do you pay for the extra 20-30 hours of manager time you don't need a lot of which will end up being used because of coordination issues. For example likely they will both have to sit in some of the same meetings doubling the cost of the meeting (in terms of IT or whatever management time burned). I don't think it is necessarily a sign of incompetence it can just be a sign of reality: the money for another position or the work needed to keep another FT manager busy just isn't there. It is never easy at the higher end of the org. It is hard to go from 1->2 network admins because you want enough work to justify both people's existence it is really hard to go from 1->2 managers. Coordination of responsibilities, cost of not having relationships with other managers will likely make the new guy less effective etc. Things aren't always simple. You can just as easily argue that anyone that is married and doesn't have two cars is practicing incompetent household management since both spouses can't independently travel easily. There are limitations to what you can afford both in business and in life in general. Not getting all you'd like isn't always a sign that your boss doesn't respect you (though it could be) or of incompetence sometimes it is just economics.

dv
dv

Wow! Working long hours is something to be "ashamed" of? That is an interesting view of a manager working long hours. I have a couple of other words I might assign to such an activity: how about "commitment and loyalty?" I am going to guess, that most of you that don't believe in working long hours, don't know what it's like to start a company with limited resources? I am also going to postulate, that it is likely, that many of you probably are managers or are looking to become managers, which of course makes sense as to why you wouldn't agree with working long hours. It is also possible that many of you could have a manager that works long hours and perhaps their "work ethic" makes you feel guilty? I agree that boasting about working long hours comes from the ego and therefore does not speak highly of the individual, but let's not condemn someone that is working long hours because they are committed to the company they work for and recognize that they are doing what it takes to get the job done. In today's economy, with many companies going out of business and many others struggling just to survive, companies are required to do more with less - sometimes (for long periods at a time) working long hours is part of doing more with less! Some of you might say that you just need to work smarter. You always need to work smarter but sometimes it's not enough.

splait1
splait1

While I respect your opinion, I have to disagree with your absolutes. A manager stuck in a bad spot, or even in a good spot, may have excellent reasons for working hard, and sometimes long hours. I worked for a high-tech development company on a project that was incredible. I hired nine great engineers that worked hard, not because I asked them to, but because they saw the merit in what we were doing. There was no money to hire anyone else to help. I never asked them to work overtime. They never complained. As a matter of fact, when the project was over (18 months later), almost all of them wanted to know where I was going next - not so they could avoid going there, but because we all had a great working relationship and they wanted to keep it up. I learned most of my management skills by watching both good and bad managers in my career. I kept my people informed about what was going on in our parent company, as well as what we officers were discussing. My door was always open. I never took credit for their work, but I was always there when something went wrong so I could take responsibility not only for the failure, but to assure and insure that we would get it right. I supported my team, and I respected them openly for their skills and for who they were. We worked well together, we were successful, and no one (not one!) spoke about the sacrifices we all made to get the job done. Was I a bad manager? I was not pleased that we couldn't hire more people to help, but I worked with the folks and skill sets I had. My team let me know that I was a GOOD manager and that they respected me and how I treated them. What I'm saying here is that there are NO absolutes in business or in life.

Darryl~
Darryl~

"keep the ship afloat", then it becomes job a requirement....either hire the needed staff to get the job done, or change the job description. If it's for the occasional project, then fine.....if it's every single week of every year....well....we got a problem Houston.

mradventure
mradventure

If you are continually working long hours, upper management grows to expect it, and it becomes a way of life. While that may be financially great for contractors, salaried people can't really benefit. The key is that if you are constantly working longer hours is that you have to be made sure that upper management acknowledges it in some form or another, be it the creation of additional positions, promotions, AND/OR bonuses. But to use it as a cover for poor management, that's just unsustainable, and leads to employee burnout on all the lower levels.

richard.gardner
richard.gardner

If you aren't competent enough to identify and fix the issues that are causing long hours then maybe there is something wrong, you could whinge about budgets but time being money I've never had a problem justifying the ROI for fixing any infrastructure that causes problems. Having said that I had to work long hours for a couple of years to get from firefighting to managing.

shodges119
shodges119

But it is not always the Manager doing the work that's bad. All it takes is an under bid contract or a funding cut to remove the resources you need. A technically competant manager may be stepping in to pick up slack. This manager being able to do the job does not make him a bad manager. The failure has occured above his head and he is adapting to the world in which he resides. This may not be the case but it validates the point that it is sometimes out of his control.

pzimmerman@iquest.net
pzimmerman@iquest.net

Working long hours is not necessarily the mark of a bad manager. Some managers work long hours by choice to escape a bad home life (or no home life). Some prefer work over anything else, as it may be the one area in their lives where they feel capable and useful. Others just plain like to work more than any other activity they could choose -- their work IS their hobby and vice versa. In the United States, in particular, the "Protestant Work Ethic" still influences many people to equate hard work and long hours with moral virtue. Workaholic managers I have known typically don't expect the same kind of commitment from staff or peers. As long as they're good at their jobs in other respects, putting in long hours at work is not a negative quality.

Darryl~
Darryl~

Otherwise your schedule would include the extra hours....then, they are no longer "OT"...it is expected of you & part of your job/contract.

Douglas.Kirkland
Douglas.Kirkland

I talked to one manager whose part of the organization had only one overworked junior HR person. The result was a build up to where 40% of the technical positions are vacant and everyone, including the managers, pull long hours to keep the ship afloat. It gets hard to recruit qualified people into a situation like that. Catch 22.

blarman
blarman

Psychological studies have shown that extended periods of excessive work actually make you LESS productive. So working 60 hours a week for months leads you on a descending spiral. It also sets the expectation that your position MUST work that much to be effective. That's a bad precedent. I have to agree with the author on this point: if you routinely work more than 45 hours/week, you are too busy to manage both your time and your staff's effectively.

Darryl~
Darryl~

I too once worked as a manager where I put in 60+ hours a week....I had a very capable staff that could have handled things without me there as much....but I was young & focused on the almighty $$. I paid for it big time....I'm now on my second marriage and average 35 hours a week. We may not be able to afford all the toys & trips we'd like, but we're happy.

erh7771
erh7771

...the employee and the time abuse doesn't have to be direct

bdskp
bdskp

We've almost been brainwashed in this regard. They say if you want to climb the corporate ladder you put in long hours. They say if you want that nice car or nice house you put in long hours. They say if you want to be proud of your work, put in long hours. And in the mean time the meaning of life goes flying past them. Nice cars, nice houses, a big paycheck, lots of authority at work = what? When you are dead, in the ground, what are those things? Or as it's better put: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

been murdered by incompetent managers..... The rewards for those attributes, are unpaid hours, trivial pay rises, redundancy, lay offs, outsourcing, unequal pay awards and contempt. You get what you give, and none of them are commitment or loyalty to a workforce, whether that's shop floor or management.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

But over 45 hours for extended time is the subject. Stuff happens and sometimes, rarely ot is needed. Over 45 hours a week for more than a months does depict bad leadership somewhere along the management line.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Managers often will be over worked because their are fewer of them. It is much harder to hire a second manager for a department than say another DBA. A manager will often cost more so there is a cost issue. But their is also a conflict of responsibility problem: who do staff report too? Who ultimately writes the job description and hires/fires? How much is lost when one person doesn't have all the department's activities in their head (I realize they might not anyways but they are more likely to have a clue if they have their thumbs on every project/person)?

dv
dv

Finally, someone brings some sanity and "REAL" life experience to this "long hour debate" from the point of view of a manager. Well said! Everyone should realize that their absolutes about a manager working long hours are only a sign of a lack of objectivity. I know, I know, the previous statement was an absolute but, at least, I put some thought into it, which is more than I can say for some of the people posting to this forum. It's amazing when someone makes the "statement of fact" that "managers that work long hours are incompetent!" That is so utterly ridiculous, it is almost laughable, that one would make such a comment and believe they are being objective. They make the comment as if there is no other possibility. Did they ever think that maybe the manager likes her job? Or maybe the company financials don't support additional employees? Or maybe the manager is just plain "committed"? What about "work ethic"? I could go on and on..... You know, I CHANGED my mind, "I AGREE, all managers that work long hours are incompetent, including me!" How about we start a new thread and we call it, "Do you think that people who believe that managers that work long hours are incompetent - are incompetent?" I'll be the first to answer: YES!

MikeGall
MikeGall

I don't think I'm unfriendly but for the most part people bore me. I'd rather spend a couple hours making something cool than going to the pub and taking about nothing with friends or complete strangers. People just aren't that interesting to me. A fair number of people are that way. Can't remember where I heard it (maybe even TR) but it is true: our society is biased/run by extroverts. if you are introverted in general people think you are strange and awkward and just need some help "getting out of your shell". Somehow people don't all have to like indian food but everyone needs to like hanging out which isn't true. I find it is the same thing with people that like to dance if you are at a party they just simply can't understand why you don't want to dance "oh but it is fun" ... for you maybe.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Social skills are needed to make one a truly happy person. Some people say they are perfectly happy alone, but we all need at least a small circle of close friends. Venting on message boards is nowhere near as cathartic as talking to a person and getting feedback the old fashioned way.

belbolbuk
belbolbuk

I think that is too blunt. You have a point there but not all is cut out for elaborate social life. The guy may be okay with just few friends who really care and I think job functions should be designed to suit people's personalities. What do you think?

belbolbuk
belbolbuk

I quite agree with you on point 10, it cannot be used as yardstick, except one is convinced that the motive is not right such as eye service but if it is a sacrifice to get things moving, then it is fine. Another thing to consider is family, friends, etc. There must be a balance between the workload and making time for them.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

The guy is using work as an escape. That's no different from an alcoholic, shop-aholic or any other aholic. He needs to fix his personal life. No matter what you hind behind, you are still hiding. Sooner or later those lack of interpersonal skills will bite him at work.

Darryl~
Darryl~

the reason he probably ended up with no social life was because he never gave it the chance to develop (or allowed himself the time to build a relationship). However....when you say "I'd rather work for a guy like him any day than a slacker manager whose main skill is brown-nosing his boss"....I'd have to agree with you 100%

pzimmerman@iquest.net
pzimmerman@iquest.net

The workaholics I have known generally realize, to put it politely, that they are "different." I'm thinking of one guy in particular...nice person, great to work with, totally dependable. He could talk about computers forever. But he had no real social ability. He was single, shy and not very smooth when it came to meeting people outside a work setting. But he was highly capable at his job so, over time, work became his life. I'd rather work for a guy like him any day than a slacker manager whose main skill is brown-nosing his boss.

Darryl~
Darryl~

which quite often can be caused by the long hours in the first place. I do have to agree with you on the "Protestant Work Ethic"....and I wouldn't just say that's a US thing...I see it here in Canada also. "Workaholic managers I have known typically don't expect the same kind of commitment from staff or peers"....I also agree with you here....but....they are also usually the ones watching to see who is leaving "exactly" at 5 PM....etc.

MikeGall
MikeGall

I've worked at a couple places in healthcare. Neither one would post a job when someone gives notice. They wait until the person has left and then take ~6 months to fill the position. The end result is their is no hand off. My current employer will have a hard time when I leave. I'm the only one that can program and do that about 3/4 of my time. The other 1/4 is what my role is actually for so that will end up being what they have to hire based on for the most part which will mean the 30 or so programs I've made, databases, revision control systems etc. will likely become orphans. I've given hints that someone else should shadow me so I can help teach them a little bit so it won't be such chaos when I'm gone but management has no interest in having me do anything than the next project. Good luck to them :) I had another job where I was operating a CNC plasma table (big room sized table to cut steal) their was two of us and we had more work than could get done in a day so we worked at a minimum 12X5 but usually 12X6 or 7. The boss had no clue why people wouldn't want to work that way and didn't really want to hire additional employees would just hire a temp every once in a while to drive the tow motor to keep the parts off the line. When your business operates on the assumption that the two guys that can do the job will stay 12hrs every day (and I had the fun 5pm-5am shift) you're in for a world of hurt.

Nil Po
Nil Po

I think this hits the nail on the head regarding frequent OT. Once in a while there will be OT in even well run organizations when things break or the unexpected happens. When there is frequent or routine OT then someone had overcommitted/underestimated/screwed up on a regular basis.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Poor planning to handle projected growth, poor staffing considerations during project conception and planning, poor staff replacement plans for upcoming retirees or whatever the case. It is still bad management on someone's part. I've worked with great managers taking on absolutely huge projects or growth spurts. I didn't work hardly any ot. I've worked with poor teams taking on smaller projects and spent countless hours of ot when I was younger. Just boils to a bad member of management somewhere along the way.

Darryl~
Darryl~

It's almost like I wrote the above post. My current wife even speaks to my ex.....when kids are involved, you just have to suck it up & get over your differences.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

While my ex wife may have done the wrong thing by having an affair, I in no way blame her entirely for our marriage failing. My commitment to my job at the time interfered with our marriage and played a contributing factor. It takes two to make it work and two to screw it up. Looking back, those long hours had a tremendously negative effect on me without my realizing it. I was narcissistic and unhappy and I had lost touch with who I was in my chase for the almighty $. I can honestly say that I am much happier now, not to mention physically healthier. My ex and I share a child, and these days we are actually quite good friends despite our past history.

MikeGall
MikeGall

my time is well compensated. If someone tries to convince me to work on salary I refuse. My thinking is if my first 40 are worth x than each hour after 40 should be worth at least my hourly wage. I worked for salary with absolutely no overtime and could live with it. Worked hourly and guess what most of my employers (startups and government) didn't want to pay overtime because they were on a tight budget, so again little overtime. A little overtime every once in a while to help boost your standard of living a bit is okay but if it is constant your standard of living isn't that great anyways since you are "living" fewer hours and likely too tired to do all the things you can now afford.

rowdydave
rowdydave

It takes balance. Sometimes, you do have to work long hours. but your livelihood is NOT your life. Work the long hours when it becomes necessary, but don't make it a routine practice. It's too easy to be taken advantage of, and taken for granted, if you do. Sometimes it is hard to balance our personal and work lives, but they are both a part of our lives. Work should never be the highest on the balance "ladder." It will tip the scale to an unfulfilled life every time.

Triathlete1981
Triathlete1981

I wrote that saying in the other post (didn't author it, just copied it into my other post). Glad someone else out there sees that quote for what it says.

RanEd
RanEd

Very well said, bsturgell I'v gone this idea to the extreme. I'm single and a little foolish at times. I'm now self-employed in poverty so as not to "forfeit my soul". I got out of IT and started working as a handyman. Ha! Some peace and freedom but there are trade offs.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

It wont matter to you but it will matter to those you left behind. It is called a legacy and unless you are sinle your entire life and your parents are dead and you are an only child and you have no friends...a legacy, a good one at that, one that has meaning is far more important than a life inside your cubicle. Not to mention I would rather be smiling in my grave having lived a life well spent than frowning at all the years I spent.

bratwizard
bratwizard

>>When you are dead, in the ground, what are those things? When you're dead and in the ground, what is the point of the "meaning of life" ?? Or of anything? What will it matter then what you accomplished or didn't? How much work you did or how much fun you had? What will it matter if you became the most enlightened individual ever to walk the planet? ...after you're dead?

benjnunez
benjnunez

This is correct. I had a manager once, a British national who is a self-confessed "workaholic". She puts us through long hours of work just to get things done, pronto! In exchange, we had a lot of burnout (http://helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm). That's one of the reasons why I moved to another company which offers better pay and has a work-life balance.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

[i]Has anyone ever proclaimed on their deathbed that they wish they would have spent more time at work?[/i] I'll take friends, family and a life any day...even if I screw it up. I don't care to leave behind a legacy of what I did at work. I care much more about the impact I make on the people in my life. If you work 60 hours a week at a corporate job, you aren't making an impact. I've been there, done that. Friends and family eventually distance themselves from you because you simply aren't there for anyone but yourself and your job. I guarantee you that if you are in that situation and honestly talk to your spouse, he/she would rather change your lifestyle, take a pay cut and have you be a bigger part in their life.