A typical scenario for so many companies is hiring a manager who appears to be competent and shows all the signs you'd expect for managerial success. Naturally, the person gets hired.

Then it happens. A few weeks in, a Jekyll and Hyde act takes place; you see a totally different person than the one you hired.

Soon your employees are turned off and ticked off that someone so short-tempered, uncivil, and unprofessional was hired. You watch as team morale and performance plummet.

Over the course of 15 years developing middle managers and executives, I have observed firsthand many counterproductive behaviors recognized as toxic:

1. A manager who can't see beyond him- or herself

Forget the mission or aligning team goals to organizational objectives. It's all about individual performance and getting that annual bonus. Managers with this attitude are playing for the name on the back of the jersey and are only concerned about their accomplishments and how they look to superiors.

2. A manager who hogs the spotlight

The team puts together a wonderful product, and the client can't stop talking about how elated they are. And then it happens: The manager takes all the credit. No praise for the team, no celebration of everyone's success, no recognition of team members for their contributions. This typical mistake of stealing the light and thunder away from the team will demoralize employees and send a clear message that they're not valued. 

3. A manager who is never wrong

Ever work with a manager who's always right and you're always wrong? He has a hard time taking blame or ownership for things and will never admit to having made a mistake. He's more concerned with preserving his reputation and saving face. This is a manager riding on his hubristic high horse and someone you'll want to avoid.

4. A manager who covers things up

This manager will withhold information or not tell you the full story. She doesn't say what she means, or mean what she says, so people don't know where they stand. Clear communication is rare; she will say one thing on Monday and change direction by Wednesday, often without telling the team. 

5. A manager who micromanages

The situation is overbearing and stifling for employees, because their manager wants control over decisions and distrusts the team to delegate tasks. There's no room for group discussion or input, because the leadership style is autocratic. Creativity or learning something new is absent under this dictatorship; all that's left to do is take your marching orders and report back.

6. A manager who's MIA

This manager is missing in action, or if he's actually around, he's hiding behind closed doors or having another meeting (which happens often). He'll avoid personal interaction, especially when things are going south. He will manage by email and text, and avoids communicating in person for fear of facing conflict. He's only interested in good news. Got a problem? Talk to someone else.

7. A manager who points the finger at everyone else

You've heard the saying, "For every finger you point, there's three pointing back at you." This toxic management behavior is directly related to a lack of personal accountability, which is often a character issue. In which case, one must ask and confront the powers that be: How did this person get hired for, or promoted to, management in the first place? 

Published on: Sep 18, 2018
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