Tuesday, 21 May 2024 11:42

Creating a Bad Manager

No manager sets out to be a bad manager. Despite the idea that some are inherently poor managers, the reality is that bad managers are often created due to their environment. This transformation frequently begins with well-intentioned but misguided promotions. Often, the promotion is based on technical expertise rather than leadership capabilities. Or strong interpersonal relationships with superiors and even as a strategy to retain high-performing employees. These criteria fail to prepare individuals for the responsibilities of people management, leading to a plethora of negative outcomes for the team and organisations alike.

Managers who often find themselves in roles for which they are not prepared often exhibit certain negative behaviours. They may let poor conduct slide, fail to hold team members to account which creates an unproductive work environment. These behaviours stem from a lack of necessary managerial skills and support. Overtime, this can lead to a workplace where underperformance becomes the norm and high achievers become disengaged.

Managers don’t become bad, they are created.

Let’s take a look at the pathway of bad managers:

  • The Technical Expert Turned Manager
    In many businesses, outstanding technical performances are rewarded with promotions to managerial positions. The logic is sound; if an individual excels in their technical role, they must be capable of over seeing the team. However, this is a critical oversight - technical skills do not equate to managerial skills.  For example, a brilliant programmer may have an exceptional grasp of coding, IT systems and problem solving within their niche. But place them in a management role, they face a new set of challenges. Do they have an exceptional grasp of delegation, communication, conflict resolution and strategic thinking? Moreover, they are now overseeing a team with which they were once ‘equals’. They may continue to want to be ‘friends’ with everyone. In recent times, we have dealt with numerous cases where ‘banter’, not stopped by managers, led to grievances, disciplinaries and even tribunals.
  • The Friend of the Boss
    Another common scenario is the promotion of individuals based on their close relationships with their superiors. Strong interpersonal relationships can be valuable in any workplace. But they should not be the primary criterion for managerial promotions.
    Managers promoted in this way may lack respect from the team who see their promotion as undeserved. This can undermine the manager’s authority and make it difficult to enforce policies, expectations and standards.
  • The Retention Strategy
    Organisations often fear losing their best talent and see promotion as a way to reward these individuals. This promotion can often be deserving. But it can backfire if the promoted individual is ill-equipped for the role.
    Transitioning to a managerial role shifts their focus from individual performance to team performance. Without proper training and support, these first-time managers may struggle to adapt. They might continue working on their individual tasks, neglecting the broader needs of the team. At the same time, they may apply their high standards without understanding the diverse capabilities of their team members, leading to frustration and disengagement.

As we know, the effects of bad management extend beyond the team dynamics. Poorly managed teams can drag down overall organisational performance, leading to higher turnover rates and poor company reputation. The stress and dissatisfaction generated by bad managers can have serious implications for employee well-being and mental health.

Bad managers are created by systems and practices within their organisations. By recognising the factors that contribute to poor management and implementing strategies to develop strong leaders, companies can create a more effective and positive work environment.
The bottom line: investing in the development of managers not only benefits the individuals in those roles but also supports team productivity leading to higher business turnover.

At HR Champions, we have a suite of leadership and management training to support your aspiring, first time and untrained managers. From qualifications accredited to by the leadership and management, one day training courses and bespoke leadership programmes, we have you covered. Get in touch today by calling 01452 331331 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.



Read 744 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 May 2024 13:46


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





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We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.