Enterprise Software

Bad managers: What your company should do

Regardless of the economic ups and downs, employers must be sure they're holding on to the right talent. Here's what companies should do if managers aren't up to par.

Bad managers are a problem with many organizations. In many cases, junior and mid-level employees get frustrated with their horrible managers and quit their jobs even though they have what it takes to grow into a future leader at the company. Regardless of the economic ups and downs, employers must be sure they're holding on to the right talent.

I recently communicated about this topic with Jeff Diana, HR expert and Chief People Officer at HR-tech company, SuccessFactors.

Jeff offered some answers to a couple of questions from me:

Q. When do you hold onto a bad manager (i.e., micromanager, overly demanding, passive-aggressive, etc.)? Can their habits change in the workplace?

A: Very few people are born knowing how to be a great manager and most first-time managers struggle to find a style that will work for them and help their employees grow and support the company. Bad habits can be developed early, but luckily, "bad managers" aren't destined to be bad forever. Those who want to change, usually can. It's worth having upper management work with someone who is an asset to the company because, in many cases, work habits and behaviors can be replaced with work-friendly strategies.

For example, an overly demanding manager may not understand the skill set of their employees or what is a reasonable workload. Simply asking an employee to finish something in five hours does not mean it will get done. Managers can be taught the right questions to ask to determine exactly what an employee is working on, coach them to better prioritize projects and be more productive. Employees who feel valued, listened to and understood are more likely to complete higher quality work and at faster pace.

That being said, not everyone is cut out to be a manager and if a "bad manager" can't (or won't) change but is still considered a valuable employee, there's the option of moving this person into a non-management role if it's feasible and makes sense for your team.

Q: When is it right to fire a bad manager?

A: There is always an appropriate time to end a bad relationship - if you let it go on too long, unnecessary and sometimes irreparable damage can occur. If you've already given this bad manager feedback and provided training but they've spent months on probation with little to minimal change, then it's time to let them go. At SuccessFactors, we have a "No Jerks" policy where we hold all of our employees to a standard where they are asked to respect one another. Even though they may contribute strategically to the company, keeping an employee who is perceived as a jerk or a bad manager will end up hurting your company since they'll continue to create a bad atmosphere for others, demoralize your key team members and potentially drive out the future leaders of your company.


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.

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