Strategic Partner


Prev Next

5 Characteristics of an unpopular manager

Accelerate SME

There is an old proverb, which says that "the fish rots from the head". This is certainly true when it comes to business leadership and retention. While there are many reasons for voluntary separation, the biggest by far involves issues with management. In light of this, investigating upper staff should definitely be considered when addressing chronic turnover. During the process, stay alert for certain behaviors and issues indicative of a bad manager.

Accountability issues

Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone is willing to admit them. People in management positions, however, have a way out. Some individuals are willing to acknowledge errors, but they inevitably find some way to blame it on their subordinates. Making matters worse is that bosses can easily impose severe discipline on those who they feel are at fault. This does nothing to improve performance, but it certainly helps breed fear and resentment.

On the other hand, some supervisors take too much accountability - when praise is involved. It's not unheard of for a manager to oversee a project and take full credit for its success, regardless of individual employee input. In some cases, bosses have been known to flat-out claim responsibility for accomplishments that were not even remotely theirs. Naturally, this doesn't go over well, thereby tempting people to quit.

Toxic behavior

When management is toxic, its fallout is guaranteed to spread to other staff. The environment these people create does nothing to help morale, satisfaction, respect or retention. In fact, employees are much more likely to suffer from things like anxiety and depression at the very idea of coming to work. Staff who try to stay for a while will still take more sick days. Trends like these should definitely be addressed, as they're an indication that something is very wrong. 

Perhaps the most glaringly obvious sign of toxicity is abuse. In the workplace, this usually involves verbal or emotional mistreatment - although violence and sexual harassment can also happen. Breaking points may vary, but people subjected to this on a regular basis are definitely going to leave. 

There's absolutely no excuse for anyone - let alone leadership - to put others through any kind of distress at work. People like these need to be disciplined, if not removed altogether. 


Most employees have no problem following the rules. Things like punctuality, courtesy, dress code and using time appropriately are perfectly reasonable requests; however, if a supervisor enforces regulations while simultaneously breaking them, staff will become resentful and question their boss' competency. After all, what kind of an organization disregards or rewards laziness?

A leader should never be constantly late, take long breaks or waste time on social media while chastising others for the same thing. In an environment like this, it's unrealistic to expect employees to respect the rules or remain loyal.


"Micromanagement" is a common negative buzzword for good reason. Even the most restrictive tasks have some room for autonomy; however, certain managers feel that every function should conform to their personal tastes. Consequently, these individuals constantly monitor all aspects of their staff's work. This seemingly endless hovering is unnecessary, invasive and frustrating. Employees often find ways to work better or faster, and forcing them to complete tasks a certain way stifles opportunities to improve efficiency.

Supervisors who micromanage need to be addressed immediately. With proper coaching, they can possibly learn to reign in some of their need for control. If they can't, it's time to weigh the positive contributions of this person versus their negative impact on the business.

Lack of communication

Communication is a skill. It can be taught to an extent, but some people are more talented at it than others. Delegating clearly and effectively is crucial for a manager, but this is only part of the process. Employees will inevitably have questions or concerns, but if a supervisor is unavailable all the time, the project could suffer and staff will get quite frustrated. 

Of course, it's unrealistic to expect a manager to be available at all times, but if his or her door is constantly closed, it might be time to ask if something's wrong. The individual might simply be introverted or lack people skills. This can be coached to an extent. If they intentionally isolate themselves to avoid work as much as possible, then chances are the supervisor isn't a good fit for the company.

Friendly, competent leadership is critical for an organization's success. Being treated well makes employees feel valued, while frustration and disrespect will send employees out the door. Take the time to evaluate management when possible and pay attention to employee input.

© Zawya BusinessPulse QATAR 2016


  • No comments are available

Our Partners


© Copyright 2014 Zawya.