Just as you were about to settle in for the night, it happened again. Your boss texted you asking if you could email him the latest update on a report, "whenever you get a chance"--which probably means now.
No one is a stranger to working under the autocracy of a bad manager. Bad managers are guilty of bad people management practices--from demanding workers to work outside office hours to yelling workers into submission--completely robbing them of inspiration or empowerment to speak.
Why is it so hard to find good managers?
According to Gallup, only about one in 10 people have the talent to manage. Though many have the necessary traits, not all have both the talent or experience needed to help a team achieve excellence.
In fact, companies fail to choose the right talent for the job 82 percent of the time, Gallup reveals.
Why do so many companies choose the wrong candidate? It could be a number of reasons. You can't see talent-in-action on a paper resume, and clever candidates often prepare answers to tough interview questions ahead of time. Sometimes, valuable traits seen in interviews like charisma and the ability to make decisions quickly are misconstrued for talent in managing others.
When it comes down to it, companies need to change the way they access management talent.
What's the impact of a bad manager?
Managers account for at least 70 percent of variance in employee engagement scores across business units, Gallup estimates.
Employee engagement directly links to vital performance indicators, meaning the more engaged employees are, the organization sees higher profitability, productivity, and quality. Not only that, companies with higher engagement see lower turnover, less absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents, according to Gallup.
Managers who affect employee engagement negatively have the opposite effect on these metrics. "A manager with no real talent for the job will deal with workplace problems through manipulation and unhelpful office politics, because they lack the inner personal courage required to manage teams effectively," Jim Clifton stated in his article based on Gallup's insights.
The bottom line isn't hard to decipher: Bad managers make an organization perform worse.
Can you fix a bad manager?
In Jim Clifton's opinion, no. "Leaders go to seminars, hire consultants, and employ a long list of interventions--competencies, 360s, and so forth," Clifton said. "I don't think any of them work. What's worse, nobody really cares that they don't work."
I say it depends on the person's personality--their drive, adaptability, and reaction to humility. If they're open to changing their methods and don't let a God-complex get in the way, they might change for the better. But it's rare to find this type of person in a management role. Often, the solution boils down to replacing the person.
Companies Take Radical Tactics To Boost Morale
Last April, Germany's labor ministry decided to address the bad manager problem by banning email after work hours. The official guidelines stated staff could not penalized for turning off their cell phone or answering work messages after hours. It also urged managers to refrain from contacting employees while on leave, except for in exceptional circumstances.
Last year around this time, Zappos decided that bureaucracy was getting in the way of their adaptability. The company replaced the typical workplace chain of command with a "holacracy," a series of self-governing, overlapping circles--meaning no more traditional management.
Instead of managers, people called "lead links" assign employees roles or remove them, but cannot actually tell people what to do. A governing process of people in each circle decides how teams function and what each role entails.
How To Spot A Good Manager
Restructuring your company to run sans management might not be in your cards. So, if you'd like to keep managers around, here are a few tips to help select the right people for the job:
1. Conduct role-playing exercises during an interview.
When interviewing the candidate, provide them with a scenario and actually have them demonstrate how they would handle the situation.
2. Take them for a test drive.
Invite the candidate to join the company for a shadow day to get a feel for the position. Don't hesitate to give them a small project or conflict to resolve right away to see how they approach it.
3. Ask unique questions to help determine the person's personal culture and values.
Pro interviewers often carefully craft strong answers to common interview questions. It can be hard to break through the cookie-cutter answers to really see who the person is underneath and determine if they are equipped to manage a team.
4. Test to see if they're willing to get their hands dirty.
During the interview, drop something to see if the candidate helps you pick it up. Stage a "mini-crisis" during the office tour to see if the candidate will voluntarily jump in to help solve the problem. These small stunts can help you test the helpfulness reflexes of your candidate.
5. Talk to previous employees they managed.
When choosing a manager, take extra care to check references, and if you can, investigate beyond that. Check LinkedIn for employees who previously worked under the candidate and message them asking if they'd be OK with answering a few questions. The workers whom this person has previously managed will often offer the most accurate picture of their management style.
Although, there is no tried-and-true way to spot one of the 10 percent of managers with innate talent instantly. But these are just a few scenarios that can give you a clue as to how your manager candidate will perform in practice. Ultimately, the best indicator will come from personal recommendations and watching them in action.
What are some of the worst experiences you've had with a bad manager?