From the perspective of a business owner, there may be only one thing worse than a bad employee: a bad manager. Dealing with team members and management teams effectively is crucial for a thriving workplace.
Shocking data from a Gallup Poll revealed just how much managers can influence the workforce. Managers account for an impressive 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Surprisingly, it's not about wages, benefits, or the work environment itself.
The most significant factor affecting employee engagement and things like staff turnover is having a bad or difficult boss. This challenge is so impactful that 50% of employees have left their jobs to get away from an ineffective manager.
Dealing with difficult managers (and management teams) is a challenge that most employers will face at some point. So the question is: What are your options for improving the situation and promoting a better working relationship with your team members and management style?
The Impact of a Bad Manager
Bad or toxic bosses can have a significant and lasting impact on a company. It's important to recognize the signs of a bad manager early to reduce the potential negative effects they may bring. Here we'll delve into the impact bad managers can have and provide insights on how to spot them.
Recognize the Signs of a Bad Manager
Identifying a bad boss isn't always as straightforward as it may seem. They might not always fit the typical stereotype of an authoritarian or inconsiderate figure. Here are some key indicators to look out for:
High Turnover Rates: if you are experiencing a spike in turnover, it's important to determine the root cause. Bad managers often drive employees away with their behavior and management style.
Poor Communication Skills: a bad boss may struggle with clear and transparent communication. This can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and even frustration which affects the quality of good work produced.
Micromanagement: a toxic manager may excessively manage their employees, interfering with individual and team productivity.
Failure to Provide Feedback: Constructive feedback is crucial for employee growth and development. A bad boss may avoid providing feedback or offer it in a way that discourages rather than motivates employees to improve.
Unclear Goals: A bad manager may struggle to communicate the vision or objectives of the business, leaving employees with no direction.
The Importance of a Good Manager
Having a great manager is similar to a compass that points your team in the right direction. These kinds of managers can have a ripple effect on the entire team and, by extension, the entire company. Here are a few ways a good manager can impact your company:
Boosting Employee Engagement: Good managers create an environment where employees feel motivated and engaged. They inspire their team, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.
Improved Communication: Effective managers excel at communication. They ensure that everyone on the team understands their roles, responsibilities, and goals.
Positive Work Culture: A good manager sets the tone for a positive work culture. Their leadership style influences the work environment, promoting collaboration and employee well-being.
Attracting Talent: Companies with a reputation for excellent management are more likely to attract top talent. Skilled professionals seek companies where they can thrive under effective leadership
Overall, a manager's impact goes beyond daily operations and extends into the long-term success of the company. In the following section, we'll explore ways to deal with a bad manager or management team, and how to turn a toxic work environment into an improved one.
Strategies for Dealing with a Bad Manager or Management Team
1: Train them
Here, the idea is that skills development and leadership training could help a bad manager to improve their management skills. However, Gallup is not encouraging about this tactic: “Virtually all companies try to fix bad managers with training. Nothing fixes a bad manager.” Still, despite Gallup’s dramatic proclamation, if the issues stem from a lack of managerial skill rather than temperament or personal issues, providing feedback and training can help.
2: Help them
Sometimes, managerial underperformance is the result of external factors beyond the manager’s control. Gallup argues that you can’t fix a bad manager, but sometimes it will turn out not to be the manager but rather an operational or logistical hurdle that, if resolved, would fix the overall issue. The manager might not have access to the resources or support he or she needs to be successful and exhibit a good managing style.
Employers should handle bad managers the way they handle bad employees: talking to them in a solutions-oriented way that tries to diagnose any underlying issues that can be fixed. This way you can turn a toxic work environment into an improved situation.
3: Replace them
A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at the costs associated with bad management. They found that replacing a poorly performing manager with a top-performing manager is roughly equivalent to adding an extra person to the team, in terms of productivity.
So, if you can’t fix a bad manager and/or can’t fix any external factors, replace them. In fact, researchers suggest the ideal replacements may be hiding in plain sight: “Rare management talent exists in your company right now – it’s hiding in plain sight. Companies that use predictive testing analytics to find … talent will have the biggest advantage in the global war for the best customers.”
4: Prevent them
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. Review your hiring procedures, as well as any leadership development programs your company has in place. Better candidate screening, hiring, and training procedures can go a long way to prevent problems before they arise and to foster good bosses and leadership skills.
Fostering a Positive Work Environment
Creating a positive work environment is a must for any thriving company. A workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated is the base for success. The focus thus far has been on dealing with bad managers and addressing the impact of their actions, fostering a positive work environment is the strategy that can prevent or reduce many of these issues.
Here are a few ways to nurture a positive work environment:
Clear and Inclusive Communication: Open and honest communication is the foundation of a healthy work environment. Encourage your management team to engage with employees, actively listen to their concerns, and ensure that everyone feels heard and valued. Celebrate diversity and welcome all voices in the workplace.
Define and Express Company Values: Your company's values should be a set of principles that guide workplace behavior. Managers, in particular, should embody these values in their actions and decisions. This fosters a culture where everyone understands and respects the company's mission and ethics.
Employee Well-Being: Focus on the well-being of your team members. This means providing a work-life balance, access to mental health resources, and ensuring that employees feel their needs are considered and supported.
Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward employees for their hard work and contributions. It doesn't always have to be monetary but a simple "thank you" or acknowledgment in a meeting can go a long way in creating a positive atmosphere.
Professional Development: Encourage employees to grow and develop in their roles. Support their development by providing chances for learning, training, and advancement within the company.
Lead by Example: As a business owner or leader, your behavior sets the tone for the entire company. Be a role model in terms of your own interactions with employees, adherence to company values, and commitment to fostering a positive workplace.
Remember, a positive work environment doesn't just benefit employees. It also significantly impacts the bottom line of a company.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with comprehensive human resource solutions. HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.