How to deal with bad managers

From personality problems, a lack of training, to the employees themselves, there are a lot of factors that go into bad management. Let’s get to the bottom of bad managers — and how to deal with them.


October 16, 2021 · 8 min readAll

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had a few bad bosses. Managers who micromanaged, didn’t communicate well, offered unhelpful feedback, or were just plain toxic. 

You’ve probably wondered: Why are there so many bad managers out there? What creates a bad manager in the first place? 

From personality problems, a lack of training, to the employees themselves, there are a lot of factors that go into bad management. Let’s get to the bottom of bad managers — and how to deal with them. 

What creates bad management?‌

The right manager can make or break a workplace. 

But what exactly creates a "bad" manager? Here are a few of the reasons why employees might have complaints about their higher-ups. 

1. Lack of training ‌

Not everyone is a natural-born leader — and even if they are, it takes a certain skill set and a level of preparation in order to lead in the workplace. The right management training can help managers approach workplace problems in a constructive, helpful, and empathetic way. 

Many new managers are thrown into the job without any kind of preparation (or a one-day training course, if they’re lucky). In the nuanced world of job management, this isn’t nearly enough.

2. The challenges of leadership ‌

Let’s face it — leadership isn’t an easy task. 

When you’re in the workplace, it can get even harder. A manager needs to know how to push their employees without pushing too much. They need to communicate clearly and give constructive feedback. Even if they're only managing a small team, they still need to effectively adjust their management style to meet different employees at their levels. 

3. Personality problems‌

Sometimes, it comes down to personality problems. A manager with the wrong disposition or a bad attitude can affect the whole company. 

For example, a manager who criticizes without offering positive or constructive feedback is going to create a negative vibe. A manager who isn’t engaged or communicative will spread an atmosphere of apathy and dissatisfaction. Not every manager is going to have the right personality fit for your company's culture. 

4. Company culture

It’s not always about individual managers. If the company doesn’t value or reward its employees, it can set the stage for poor management. 

There’s only so much a manager can do to encourage their employees if they’re already feeling overworked, underpaid, mistreated, and/or undervalued. 

Do employees play a role?

With all the complaints out there about management, it can be easy to fall into the assumption that bad managers are the root of most workplace problems. 

However, it isn’t a one-way street.  A recent study found that employees can play an active role in workplace conflict. 

For example, employees may show resistance to a manager’s leadership. Whether it’s an outright refusal to follow a request or a more subtle form of protest, the study found that this push-back can lead to negative backlash from the manager. 

In many cases, this resistance is well-intentioned. The employee may be protesting what they see as an unfair or unhelpful management style. 

If the manager reacts impulsively and retaliates, this can escalate the conflict and spiral into something much worse. 

How to deal with bad managers ‌

Bad managers can pose a serious problem for any workplace. It disrupts the harmony of the job environment, and it can drive away good employees. 50% of employees have left a job to get away from a bad manager. 

To address the cause of bad managers, we need to understand why they might be considered “bad” in the first place. By approaching these managers in a solution-oriented way, you can get to the bottom of what might be creating these workplace disruptions. Maybe it’s a lack of training or an operational hurdle. Or maybe there are miscommunications between a manager and an employee. 

At the end of the day, treat your manager like you would any other employee. If you give them the support they need to thrive and address any problems with clear communication, you can set them — and by extension, the whole workplace — up for success. 

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