If any of the below traits are those that you show as a manager, you might want to consider finding a way to change them right away. Your gig may be up…
1. Do you show a bias against action? There are plenty of reasons for you to not want to make an immediate decision, such as, wanting to wait for more information, to plan more options, seek more opinions or do some research. Real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don’t make decisions make mistakes in who they choose to listen to and the course they take to get an answer. It’s dangerous and shows the rest of your management team you are not qualified for that position.
2. Secrecy: “Don’t let the staff hear,” is something I hear managers say repeatedly. “They won’t understand” is usually the rationale behind this decision. 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, if they choose to use that information to challenge him. Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust. (See government).
3. Over-sensitivity: I saw this a ton in the government. Too much. “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 upfront and move on? If not, these problems won’t get resolved, instead they will grow. When managers say staff is too sensitive, they are usually describing themselves. The bad traits of secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together.
4. Do you have a rather fond love of procedure? Managers who live and die by the rule book have forgotten that rules and processes exist to speed up business, not ritualized it. A fond love of procedure often masks a the inability to rank key tasks will get missed while thumbing through the book looking to cover your ass.
5. Do you have a preference for weak candidates? Have you ever interviewed candidates for a new position and hired the one with the rawest skills because you may have been threatened by the others? The super-competent manager knows that you must always hire people smarter than yourself.
6. Are you a micromanager? Do you get caught up in the details? Are you the type that has always produced the perfect charts, forecasts and spreadsheets, is always on time, has work completely up-to-date and always volunteer for projects in which you have no core expertise? This type of behaviour tells others that you are trying to hide the fact that you could not do your real job and you keep close tabs on everything so that if you are called on something you know it right away. But by hovering over your direct reports you show them you have no trust in them and they know when you do or do not understand something. It’s a bad situation all around.
7. Inability to hire former employees: Have you hired someone who did not attract any candidates from their old company? That might tell you that your new hire had not 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. Are you unable to meet deadlines? A deadline is a commitment. The manager who cannot set, and stick to deadlines, cannot honor commitments. Failure to set and meet deadlines also means that no one can ever feel a true sense of trust in this manager and once that level of trust has been eroded, it spells the beginning of the end for the manager.
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. It is also so much easier to blame the consultant if something goes wrong than to put your own neck on the line by making that decision.
10. Long hours: Bad managers tend to work very long hours. I suspect they think the rest of the business will think they are super-hard workers, dedicated to their roles, but it is probably the single biggest sign 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.