Manager behaving badly – is it you?

Manager behaving badly – is it you?

Manager behaving badly – are your anxieties reducing the performance of those you work with?

Are you a manager behaving badly and what is the effect on others? I’ve coached and blogged about career development for a few years now. And there seem to be a number of recurring themes when people talk to me about happiness at work. The most common is “trouble” with boss.

Problems can arise for all kinds of reasons.

Sometimes the person talking to me has had a history of difficulties with other managers in the past. There may be something they can change in their approach to improve things.

Sometimes the person having the problems is in a job that isn’t the right fit and they need to consider a change.

Unfortunately, it isn’t unusual for it to be about manager bad behaviour

Unfortunately, and far too often, the difficulties spring from the way a particular manager has behaved.

Managers come in all kinds of flavours. Some find communicating with their teams easy. For others, it may be something at which they need to work. These days there is little excuse for not knowing that communication is key to good performance but you would be surprised how many managers choose not to hear the message.

Sadly, a small number of managers are out-and-out bullies and they cause much misery and distress. Far more common is a much more subtle effect. There are managers dealing with their personal challenges by acting unprofessional in the workplace.

Some managers deal with trouble in their private life by bringing anger or depression into the office. Many seem quite clever at making sure it is only their juniors who suffer, while colleagues and those above, see a happy, cooperative employee.

Managers may be insecure in their work role (fear of redundancy, for example). They may deal with their anxieties by undermining those who work for them. Heaven help the bright junior who might be a natural successor! But the team might suffer from their “control freakery” and anger – nothing is quite good enough.

Over time, a “boss” working out their own problems at work can cause havoc with their team’s performance. Everyone feels unhappy and stressed; valuable team members look for opportunities to move elsewhere and sick absence may rise.

Manager behaving badly – are you causing problems for others

As a manager, looking objectively at your own performance and admitting you are causing problems for the team can be hard.

It is wise for all manager to step back sometimes and reflect on their own performance. Think about how you behaved over the last week, the last month and the last year.

For example, when you think about your leadership or management style consider;

  • Have there been incidents you later regretted?
  • Are there people on the team you fear may be better than you at the job?
  • Have you stopped seeing good people as an asset and do you now see them as a threat?
  • How happy are the people who work in your team?
  • How have you contributed to that happiness?

Think about how you would judge a colleague behaving as you have behaved. Would it be good for them, their team and the organization, in the long-term? If the answer is no, then act now. Commit to making a change and, if you need help, there are lots of coaches like me around on LinkedIn.

All it takes is the courage to look honestly and objectively at what you have done and not make excuses for yourself. Takes action. You owe it to yourself and your team to make that change.

Working with a coach really can help you be a better manager. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype.
Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link


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