Why Bad Managers are Everywhere

a bad manager reprimanding his employee; bad managers are everywhere
an image depicting bad managers everywhere

Why are Bad Managers Everywhere?

Bad managers are everywhere, regardless of what field you work in. They micromanage, undermanage, schedule poorly, hire bad workers, and cop an attitude when faced with criticism. Truly, if you’ve worked in more than a couple of jobs you’ve likely worked under a bad manager.

These bad employees have a profound effect on their company, including lower productivity, overspending, and high turnover. Indeed, people are more likely to leave their job due to a bad manager than anything else. In 2021, 57% of Americans quit their jobs due to feeling disrespected. In 2022, 62% of workers reported that they are considering quitting due to a toxic work environment and 56% of this same group specifically cited “poor management.”

Employees are willing to put up with a lot at jobs, but they draw the line when management isn’t on their side. This boundary makes sense when you consider how much power managers have over their workers. They control growth opportunities, promotions, pay, scheduling, and more. Nobody wants to leave their life in the hands of someone cruel, incompetent, or both.

So why is this issue so widespread? Keep reading to find out.

7 Reasons Bad Managers are Everywhere

While there are undoubtedly some managers who are just bad people, people who are willing to crush everyone beneath their shoes to reach the top, or who get addicted to power, most are not fundamentally bad. They’re just not as good at their job as they should be. Maybe they didn’t want the position in the first place or found they hated it a bit too late. Perhaps they were never trained or are stuck enforcing policies that they don’t agree with.

Ultimately, there is often an underlying reason for the issues that occur. And, often, these managers don’t have any support to improve. The issue will only resolve when the manager gets promoted or leaves the company. And then the employees wonder: will the next one be any better? Unless something real changes higher up in the company, probably not. Indeed, it takes a lot to fix a toxic work environment.

Below, we’ll go over the top reasons bad managers are everywhere and what can be done to resolve this issue.

stressed employee at their laptop

1. Employees are Promoted Without Training

Many companies like to look within to find new managers. After all, who can you trust more than the workers who have been with you for years and who have proven themselves to be competent? While this loyalty to your employees is great and encourages workers to work harder to earn a promotion, most companies fail to prepare their new managers for the role.

Truly, few people are natural-born leaders, and those who are still need training. Managers do a lot to keep a company afloat and profitable. They’re in charge of the people who often keep the business running. Indeed, how well would a restaurant run without any servers? It makes sense to invest in them and ensure success and effectiveness. If you’re looking to promote one of your workers into a managerial position, consider pairing them with a current manager who can work as a mentor. Larger companies should think about paying for training courses.

If you are an employee looking to become a manager or you’re already a manager and you’re afraid you’re not doing your best, you should also think about getting trained. Ask your supervisor or HR about education benefits. Do they have an assistance program? They might pay for part or all of your education, whether it’s one class or a certificate or degree from an accredited program.

Notably, you don’t necessarily need to go to a full-scale college for training. Sites like YouTube and Udemy have free training videos and courses available to everyone. Ultimately, you’ll find great information, learn new skills, and come out with a better understanding of how to be a good manager.

Bad managers are everywhere due to poor training by companies. Improve your business by making sure everyone has the resources they need to excel.

2. Employers Still Value Degrees Over Experience & Skill

Another mistake companies make when hiring or promoting new managers is that they look at degrees over experience and skill. Today, many companies are removing degree requirements for many positions, but this practice is not growing fast enough. While degrees are wonderful for providing practical knowledge, communication skills, and more, they are not predictors for good managers. Not everyone with a degree should be a manager and not every manager needs a degree.

Truly, only a few specialized degrees provide people with good managerial skills. Unless an employee specifically took classes in business management, they won’t be any more prepared than your new hire fresh out of high school. And even then, these courses do not make up for the real, in-person experience managers need. Your employee with an arts degree may be better equipped than the one with a business degree.

Bad managers are everywhere because these businesses are too short-sighted. Ultimately, companies must look at individuals, not degrees when considering who should fill a managerial position. Otherwise, they’ll wind up with managers who are only qualified on paper and not in practice.

a young woman shouting into a megaphone; why bad managers are everywhere

3. Bosses Promote Those Who Take Credit

Another issue that leads to bad managers is a lack of oversight. Supervisors will promote workers to managerial positions based on what they say instead of what they do. Bad managers are everywhere because bad employees take credit for everyone else’s work and bad supervisors allow them to do so.

So, what can be done to fix this? First, supervisors must pay attention to their own companies. Know who talks themselves up the most versus who actually gets things done. Promoting the wrong person can decimate morale and lose you good employees. Second, if you are the quiet employee who keeps getting overlooked, learn how to advocate for yourself. Speak up and be proud of what you’ve accomplished at the company. Get the promotion or raise you deserve in return.

4. Businesses Don’t Update Their Policies

Sometimes, the issue isn’t with an individual, but with a company’s policies. Indeed, due to oversight or an out-of-touch CEO, managers may be forced to enforce policies that don’t make sense in this day and age. If they fail to uphold the policies, they may face repercussions that can cost them their jobs.

Bad managers are everywhere because companies fail to evaluate their own handbooks and update them as needed. Good businesses regularly audit their processes and policies to ensure that they encourage a healthy and productive environment.

To resolve this issue, supervisors who are aware of the issue should bring it to the attention of those who can help. Let your boss know what the issue is, what problems it’s causing, and how fixing the policies will help the company overall. Similarly, CEOs and other high-ranking employees should do a yearly audit of all policies. Indeed, it’s better to fix the issue now than wait for it to cause problems later.

confused employee; bad managers everywhere

5. Dry Promotions Create Burnt Out Managers

Have you ever worked at a company that continuously gives you new duties without asking? Some managers are bad at their jobs because the task was added to their job description against their will. And often for no additional pay. These employees are not only unprepared for the task, but they might want nothing to do with it. Indeed, not everyone wants to be a manager.

Indeed, bad managers are everywhere because companies stack duties on unsuspecting workers to cut corners and save money. As a result, everyone suffers.

This issue can be difficult to resolve from an employee standpoint. Truly, businesses that put these responsibilities on workers rarely want to spend money if it’s working out for them. However, some may be able to set boundaries. Perhaps you can talk to your manager and rid yourself of the burden. Or your might be able to negotiate for a new title and pay raise if you don’t mind the role.

Supervisors, on the other hand, must make sure they’re talking to their employees about new duties and ensuring workers are on-board with the duties. As costly as it may be to hire a new manager, consider what you might lose otherwise. Loyal and irreplaceable employees will be just as valuable to a different company.

6. Bad Managers are Easier to Notice

Notably, sometimes it only seems like bad managers are everywhere when, in reality, you’re just not paying attention to the bigger picture. When you’re working beneath someone, you’re far more likely to notice that they’re bad at their job than other people. It’s part of the immediacy bias that many people fall for. It’s most visible to me, so it’s the biggest problem. Truly, you might not even know what some of your coworkers do, especially if you’re at a large company. How can you determine that the manager is the worst of them all?

This is not to say that all of your coworkers are bad at their jobs. We certainly hope that isn’t the case. But you’re probably being more critical of the person managing you and notice their mistakes as they often affect you.

Make sure you take a step back every once in a while to see the bigger picture. What resources does your manager have available? Who are they working for and who are they relying on to do their job? You might find that the true issue isn’t with your manager, but Debby in accounting who never pays the bills on time.

employee pulling their hair in frustration

7. Managers are Stressed

Finally, you might notice that bad managers are everywhere because managing people is stressful. While it is no excuse for taking it out on innocent employees, your manager might be as burnt out and overburdened as you are.

Many of the issues above lead to frustration, low morale, and burnout. Your manager might be miserable and, in turn, they’ve made everyone else miserable.

Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is not an easy one. It often involves the CEO or your manager’s supervisor taking note of the issue and fixing it. This solution might involve hiring another manager, delegating some tasks to other employees, or ensuring that the manager gets the training or resources they need to improve their practice. In short, it comes down to money. A new manager means a new employee or a raise, delegating tasks should involve pay raises, and training costs money.

However, one or all of these solutions will save you more money in the long run than high turnover and low profits due to burnout and low productivity. Invest in your managers and your employees and your company and profits will reap the benefits.

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