10 Phrases BAD Managers ALWAYS Say-OFTEN
Bad managers are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, they lurk in the halls of organizations everywhere, and stifle employee engagement and effectiveness. Here are ten phrases that they say regularly. Often sprinkled with their vulgar language. Above all, you will always know a bad manager when you hear one, and I am confident that you have heard a few. Do these sound familiar?
Bad Managers Say this…
1. “Do what I tell you to do.”
On a recent business trip, a client manager confided in me that he was “stuck”. His customer experience numbers were okay, but he was not a company leader. After observing him in action and reviewing his plans, the answer was obvious to his management team and me. This manager came up with the plans and told people what to do and how to do it. There was little engagement, or appreciation for the effort. As a result, the team was disillusioned, and results suffered.
2. “We have never done it that way.”
How many times have you heard this? Heaven forbid that a manager would be open- minded and willing to try something new! Good managers listen and learn. Bad managers resist almost instantaneously any company change. They dig in their heels and spread bad news. Therefore, they focus on the obstacles, not the opportunity.
3. “That idea is stupid.”
For three years I called on this VP of Sales, looking for a way to improve his company’s service sales. When I worked up a proactive plan of change, he said it would never work and eventually called me ‘stupid’ for thinking it would. Eventually, I gained the confidence of a VP in another division, and we did a pilot. We gained over 122% in sales growth. Consequently, the company COO noticed and rolled the program out across the company. So, the VP of Sales was eventually fired.
4. “Let me think about it.”
In the beginning of my career, I had an idea for improving results and shared it with my General Manager. She said, “Let me think about it.” Meanwhile, that was over thirty years ago (and a few career changes) and I still have no answer. Have you ever been in this situation?
Bad managers like to say ‘no’. It gives them perceived power and control. So that is what they say to employees who ask for support, a new approach, resources, adjustments in schedules, or help. Certainly, there are times to say no. Why not instead say, “Let us talk about it.” or “We can’t do that now but here’s why.”
Bad Managers Say this, too…
6. “I don’t pay you to think.”
I have had leaders tell me they don not want their team to think. All companies have processes, procedures or ,protocols, which is what they want the managers to do. They treat people like merchandise that you can organize on a shelf. Essentially, they do not trust their managers or employees to make good decisions. Therefore, that sends another negative message.
7. “YOU made a mistake.”
Far too many managers focus on the mistakes, errors, or problems that employees have. Moreover, they are quick to belittle people.
Bad managers disregard the research that says you bring out the best in people by emphasizing their strengths and by giving them genuine praise. So, they try to catch employees doing things wrong, as Ken Blanchard says. Some of them must imagine that this makes them seem like they are “on their toes” and on top of what needs watching. Subsequently, this builds an oppressive culture. Few employees will want to go the extra mile. Instead, they begin looking for another job.
8. “Do it yourself, that’s why I hired you.”
This is leadership abdication, and often a red herring, disguising a manager’s feeling of incompetence or insecurity. If the manager would listen and ask a few questions in a helpful manner, usually the employee is very capable of doing the job. (Sorry, this is coaching, which many managers never do.)
9. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Excuses for poor performance or not getting the job done are key characteristics of weak, failing managers. They are quick to take credit for good things and blame the mistakes on employees or other departments. I remember a manager in Detroit I worked with. He blamed his department’s continual sub-par performance on employee attitudes. Guess who contributed to the overall development of their attitudes?
10. They do no say anything…
Their silence is deafening. They may hear but are not paying attention. Or you can not find them. It is hard to find a manager when you need one. Some bad managers use this approach, no matter what is happening, when you:
- Have a question.
- Ask for assistance!
- Need a goal or priority clarified.
- Want to know what is going on.
- Seek a roadblock removed.
Bad Managers: Pulling It All Together
In conclusion, poor communication is one of the top reasons for managers’ derailment and demise. One employee lamented to me about the horrible workplace atmosphere, and admitted, “We only work when our supervisors are around. And they aren’t around that much.”
What other phrases have you heard bad managers say?
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