Remember that boss you had a few years ago that you despised? Remember thinking that, if only you were the boss, you would be so much better? This brings us to two important questions: First, do you think that your awful boss set out to be that way? I doubt it. After all, who has hopes and dreams of having their teams and direct reports hate them? Second, now that you are the boss, have you turned into your own worst nightmare?

Are you a terrible manager?

Most managers have no idea if they are viewed as “good” or “bad” because the power dynamic inherent in working relationships makes it hard for direct reports to give true, uncensored feedback — even if asked. So, how do you find out whether you are a terrible manager? There are three signs that you should look for:

1. If you dread going to work, feel disengaged, and basically do not want to be there every day, I can all but guarantee that you are not managing others well. Perhaps there are tensions with coworkers weighing you down, a cultural undertone that is draining joy from your day, or maybe you are just stressed with no reward in sight. Regardless of the situation, as a manager, you are responsible for fixing all of these problems, so their presence indicates an issue with your performance.

2. If you do not have a team that you trust to get the job done and get the job done better than you could do it alone, you are probably not managing well. Why? Because the number one job of a manager is to groom other people to do your job as well or better than you could do it. So, if you don’t have people up to the task, it indicates that you have failed somewhere along the line.

3. If you are not willing to give glory away to your direct reports — I’m talking pound the table in support of their promotion or otherwise help them seek out career-advancing, mission-critical assignments — you are probably not managing well. This is because a noticeable quality of terrible managers is their tendency to bask in the limelight and to step on others as they climb the career ladder. This sort of person believes that other peoples’ successes indicate a lack of success on their own part. Yet success is not a zero-sum game. Great managers know that a rising tide floats all ships. And they actively raise that tide.

It’s likely that this reflection stings because it is likely that you aren’t managing to the best of your ability. Not to worry — all is not lost.

Below are some tips that every manager can use to improve:

1. Get a management coach. These people help you to identify blind spots, come up with smarter ways to deal with difficult people and motivate you to actually like working again.

2. Seek out training. Ask your company for access to training courses, conferences and other professional development activities that can help. Specifically, look for training on how to delegate well, how to not micromanage and how to motivate staff — this is critical.

3. Ask for support. Tell your team that you want to become a better manager. Mean it. Tell them you are going to try new things to build a more dynamic department. Then do it.

4. Determine where you hang your self-worth. This is necessary because you need to know what is in your way of fighting for your staff’s recognition over your own. If you hang your self-worth on individual success, title, compensation and recognition, you need to know that. If you hang your self-worth on coming up with the best ideas in the room, you need to know that, too. Once you know this about yourself, you can begin the very important work of shifting your mindset to a place better suited for management. How would it feel to hang your self-worth on the success of others on your team? Or how would it feel to hang your self-worth on your ability to put others in an environment where they come up with the best ideas in the room?

5. Meet yourself where you are. Learn what you need to learn. And then start anew by figuring out how you can improve relationships at work based on this new knowledge.

Great management is not an intuitive thing. You can’t just be a nice person and hope it works out. You must work at it consciously. There is good news, however. There is something pushing you to level up if you are reading this article, and it also indicates that you likely have the wiring needed to gain traction and become that more decent human you set out to be.


Check out the latest live webinar by Lion Leadership. We are sure you won’t want to miss it. Just <CLICK HERE> to learn more.

Lion Leadership is a company of coaches, consultants, speakers, and facilitators dedicated to creating strong leaders and ambitiously self-sustaining companies through best-in-class coaching, management training, process optimization, and retreat facilitation so that businesses and leaders can be ready for what’s next.

Natasha Ganem, Ph.D., is founder and principal consultant.

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