How to Spot a Terrible Manager

Several studies come to the conclusion the most common reason employees quit is because of their manager. This reason is cited more than poor pay, leave policies, and benefits. If you’ve ever left a job you hated you can probably relate. It doesn’t matter if the pay is great and you have five weeks of vacation if every day feels like torture. Unfortunately, companies are not good at listening to their employees and taking action when there’s a poor manager. One reason for this is cognitive dissonance – a psychological term describing when a person has conflicting thoughts on something. The senior leader who promoted the terrible manager in the first place cannot admit they made a mistake. The signs are usually there, through exit interviews, and just common office gossip, which managers are the ones driving employees off the brink. Senior leaders must actively ignore the signs they have a toxic manager on their team.

Considering the high cost to replace good employees, it’s important to take notice of these warning signs and prevent loss of talented workers. Following are signs that you have a bad manager on your team.

1.     Employees are leaving a particular group at higher rates than similar departments. Pay attention after a new manager has taken over or recently been promoted. If his/her employees don’t hang around and find it easier to just leave, then that’s a huge red flag this person was not right for the job.

2.     Employees are complaining about a manager. Often employees take a leap of faith and confide in HR about a bad manager only to be dismissed or have their complaints told to the manager with no help to fix the problem. If formal complaints are made, take them seriously and keep the employee’s identity anonymous when handling the situation. Better yet, discuss the issue without framing it as “your employees don’t like it when you do x”.

3.     More absences and time off used. If all the sudden a certain manager’s employees are taking time off, it may mean they need a mental break from an abusive manager. It may also mean they are interviewing for other jobs. Calling in a sick day is sometimes all you can do to get a break when your manager is reigning terror.

4.     Exit interviews are another place where the employee might come clean and say they are leaving because of a bad manager. Take this seriously. Most of us don’t want to burn bridges but sometimes we feel like we are helping the company by telling them what went wrong. Employees should refrain from giving an exit interview whenever possible, as nothing good can come to the employee, however companies should use this information to learn and fix problems.

5.     High performers are no longer superstars. Poor managers can suck the motivation out of the best of us. If your star employees have stopped caring and started slacking in their work, it could be because they have a new manager that is micromanaging or nitpicking them to the point they have lost their spark. Many of us can relate to doing well only to have that great boss get promoted to a new position and have the replacement manager discourage us from trying anymore.

If you have a bad manager and want to look for a new job, contact Zach@stratussearch.com. Stratus Search is an executive recruitment firm specializing in chemical industries. We are always looking for the following positions: process engineer, R&D scientist, technical sales, plant managers, and more!