I was thinking about all the managerial behaviors that can wreak havoc on a staff. Putting aside for now the obvious ones-screaming, overt belittling, sexual harassment, and the tendency to break out into song-what are the behaviors that can really disable a team and undermine a staff?
I'd like to open this up to you guys, but my vote goes for what I will coin the "What does this mean for me?" Syndrome.
I believe in ambition. I believe that you always have to have your personal career goals and continually made decisions that lead to their achievement. But it's when managers get so wrapped up in their own images that they lose sight of their actual job that it's becomes problematic.
We've all met someone like this along the way. This person is in the job because of its "status" or because he measures his self-worth by how many people directly report to him. (I've actually been in meetings over the years with middle managers in which having an unequal number of direct reports was a major bone of contention. Some people never let go of the playground mentality apparently.) I don't understand how people can be promoted to manager and the main takeaway for them is status and not the excitement of added responsibility.
The team that has this leader can expect to be sold down the river at every opportunity. The executives want a project completed on an impossible deadline? This manager will enthusiastically commit so she can look like a hero. The fact that the team has to work so many extra hours that they have to reach into the fourth dimension to do it, doesn't seem to bother her. That she can then go back to the big table with the completed project after stepping over the overworked corpses of her overworked programmers doesn't register on her radar.
This is also the type of manager who is never available. He has his email sorted into groups based on sender like "Worth my time," "Can help my career," and "all others." When team members' emails go unanswered or they can never find the manager to ask questions, they soon get a sense that they have about as much clout as Lindsay Lohan's AA sponsor. Nothing kills morale quicker.
The truth of the matter is that leadership is not all about the leader. If a manager is worth his salt, he will pay attention to his team and work with his team to get projects done. Don't be a yes-man in either direction.
Okay, so what behavior do you hate the most?
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Toni Bowers is the former 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.