Bad Manager Behaviors - Copy

People are always talking about how to act in front of the boss. There are countless articles offering advice about what not to do to upset your manager or supervisor. Yet employees aren’t the only ones that should be mindful of how they act. Managers should also be aware of certain behaviors that can drive their employees nuts. If they go unchecked, these actions can seriously hinder the ability of a workforce to attain its maximum productivity.

Here are 9 annoying manager behaviors and ways to correct them:

1. Ignoring employee achievement. When an employee performs well but the manager ignores it or doesn’t offer praise, the employee is going to feel unappreciated. That is a problem that can result in employees becoming less productive—why would employees try their best if the manager is going to ignore them anyway? Supervisors should always acknowledge good work and offer praise when deserved.

2. Assuming ownership of someone else’s work. Imagine that after weeks of working on a special project, you find out that your manager pitched it as his own to senior-level staff. That would be outrageous, and indeed, nothing drives employees crazier than someone else taking credit for their hard work. Granted, it might be an inadvertent mistake, but managers should be extremely careful to avoid even the appearance of taking responsibility for their subordinates’ work. Give credit where credit is due, and identify the person who actually put in the time and thought.

3. Being too negative. It’s true that managers have to deal with a lot more than employees do—company politics, bureaucracy, and budgets—so it’s understandable that they can’t say “yes” to everything. But a manager who just says “no” can be a real downer. Managers should balance their responses to their employees. When the answer can’t be “yes” all the time, the way that the “no” is delivered can go a long way towards keeping a workforce motivated.

4. Offering confusing Instructions. You know how frustrating it is when you buy a piece of furniture that you have to assemble yourself, but the instructions are impossible to follow? That’s exactly how employees feel when their managers offer instructions that are vague or make no sense. Managers should strive to provide direction that is clear and direct, and clarify anything that might be confusing.

5. Micromanaging the staff. The other side of the “confusing instructions” coin is giving too much direction, to the point that staff feel micromanaged. Being clear and direct is one thing, but a manager who looks over employees’ shoulders and offers suggestions every few minutes will end up stifling the team’s motivation and productivity.

6. Not speaking straightforwardly. Being a manager is about more than instructing employees, it’s also about offering guidance. The manager is quite often the conduit between the employees and the senior-level staff, so it’s important to be straightforward about the expectations, directives, and instructions that come from higher-ups. A manager who does not communicate effectively can be seen as not caring if subordinates are well-informed.

7. Being unavailable to employees. Most employees want—and expect—feedback. They want to be able to consult with their managers for direction, to ask questions and set forth plans. A manager who is constantly unavailable to meet with employees can be perceived as uninterested in the staff, or perhaps even disrespectful of them. Managers who strive to be there for their teams can better keep track of progress, while also providing feedback and praise.

8. Criticizing everything. A manager who provides nonstop criticism is slowly but surely crushing the employees’ spirits. Constantly criticizing is actually a form of bullying, and it can create a hostile environment where employees are reluctant to try anything new or to speak up at all for fear of being criticized. While not every idea can be a gem, managers must know how to constructively offer feedback that doesn’t diminish their employees’ creativity or entrepreneurial spirit.

9. Struggling to make decisions. Finally, managers who can’t seem to make up their minds can drive their employees crazy very quickly. A manager who is erratic, or who never chooses a course of action and sticks with it, can derail an entire team’s output. Furthermore, employees might realize they can just cruise by, doing the bare minimum, since their supervisors never seem to decide what they want. Having a solid plan and making decisions that support the company goals are the best ways to keep employees in line.

What other annoying managers behaviors have you witnessed? Have you got a suggestion for something crucial that managers must do to keep from driving their employees crazy?

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at, or contact him on LinkedIn.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick