Entrepreneurs

3 Signs to Immediately Recognize a Toxic Manager in Action


For nearly two decades, I’ve combed through research to discover the top mistakes managers frequently make to disengage their workers and suck the life out of them.

Some of the findings aren’t surprising. Due to a shortage of good leaders, more and more individual contributors are being promoted to management roles without the proper skills and competencies to effectively lead human beings.

Add to that the shifting workplace dynamics due to the pandemic and you begin to see that managing people is no easy task.

Whether you manage people virtually or not, there are common patterns and traits of toxic management that will work against you. Here are three of the biggest mistakes managers make that cause people to quit.

1. Micromanaging

In one survey I conducted on LinkedIn, I asked respondents a simple question: What is the one mistake your manager makes more frequently than others? Not surprisingly, micromanagement rose to the top as the No. 1 mistake. In micromanaged environments, I found people reporting an absence in:

  • The expression of creativity or free flow of ideas
  • Open and transparent group discussion or input into a decision
  • Team motivation

Granted, micromanagers are human like all of us and hard-working professionals with mostly good intent. What they lack is the conscious day-to-day understanding of what it takes to motivate people intrinsically. They live in another paradigm altogether. In the end, micromanagers operate their way because it’s about power, and power is about control. 

2. Rude and disrespectful treatment. 

In a recent poll conducted by ResumeLab to find what makes someone a terrible manager, it was found that an alarming 72% of the surveyed population was treated in a rude or disrespectful manner by a bad boss and 90% didn’t like that kind of treatment. Additionally, nearly 70% of respondents were criticized in front of their peers, and 83% of them felt bad about it. Finally, and perhaps the worst case of all, an eye-popping 42% of toxic bosses blamed others for their failures, which 84% of employees feel is unfair.

3. Having the final say

Toxic managers operate on the assumption that, because they’re the boss and in charge, they have to have the last word on everything. This is a person riding on the wheels of low emotional Intelligence. When a manager doesn’t solicit the opinions of others, get buy-in from team members, and listen to the collective voice of the team in pursuing a particular strategy or vision, people don’t feel care for, respected or valued. Consequently, trust erodes and morale goes in the tank.

If you’re in a management capacity, what do you need to do–or stop doing–to get out of these patterns that may be affecting your team’s performance and engagement?

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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