10 Toxic Traits of Bad Managers

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Photo by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash

Managing people can be challenging. Some managers are not up to the task, making their subordinates’ work lives unbearable.

Toxic managers are part of life; how their traits affect you depends on the skills you develop to deal with them. A toxic manager destroys morale, diverts the workforce’s energy, impairs retention, and interferes with cooperation and information sharing.

Toxic managers can significantly impact their employees, leading to poor performance, low morale, and even staff turnover.

Here are ten types of bad/toxic managers that can negatively affect your career:

The Micromanager

This type of manager doesn’t trust their employees and tends to micromanage every aspect of their work, leading to frustration and decreased morale.

Also known as Jack of All Trades: knows everything about everything, or so they think.

The Bully

This manager uses intimidation tactics to push their employees around and get their way. They insult or belittle their staff and create a hostile work environment.

The Messiah

“Only I can fix this!” Similar to the micromanager, this manager tries to control every aspect of their team’s work. They may not trust their employees to do their job correctly, making it difficult to collaborate or be creative. (I once had a boss tell me to be ‘a little less creative.’ I left soon after.)

Also known as The Martyr: “Look how hard I work!”

The Narcissist

This manager is obsessed with their own success and can put their needs above those of their team. They may take credit for their employees’ work or manipulate situations to benefit themselves.

The Perfectionist

This manager has very high standards and can be critical of their employees’ work, leading to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

Also known as ‘Mr. Asses in the Seats’: Mistakenly thinks worker productivity is linked to being in your chair 9 to 9, working 100% of the time. Hates when you take vacations or days off.

The Avoider

This manager is not present when they’re needed, avoiding conflicts or difficult conversations. They may not provide feedback or support when their team needs it, leading to frustration and feelings of neglect.

Also known as The Overthinker: can’t make a decision to save their life and usually changes their mind once they do decide.

The Discriminator

Probably one of the worst on this list. This manager discriminates against certain employees based on race, gender, or other characteristics. They may give promotions to less qualified people or make work life harder for those who don’t fit their mold.

The Gossip Girl/Guy

The ‘Michael Scott’ type. This manager spreads rumors or shares confidential information about their employees, creating a toxic work environment and destroying trust.

The Passive Aggressive

This manager is not direct in communication and may make snide remarks or use sarcasm to criticize their employees. They may hold grudges and not forgive their team for mistakes.

The Emperor

This manager doesn’t provide support or resources to their team, making it difficult to do their job correctly. They do not advocate for their employees or stand up for them when needed.

Toxic managers can negatively affect their employees and the overall work environment. It’s essential to recognize the signs of toxic management and develop strategies to deal with it. This list of ten types of toxic managers is not exhaustive but provides an overview of the most common types of bad bosses.

If you work for a toxic manager, it’s crucial to seek support from your colleagues, HR, or a coach to help you navigate the situation. Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence or tolerate abusive behavior. With the right tools and strategies, you can take control of your career and thrive in a healthy work environment.

John Suder is a graphic designer, illustrator, and podcaster from Philadelphia. John is the Director of Marketing at SUMO Heavy Industries, an eCommerce consulting firm, and the host/producer of the long-running daily podcast ‘The eCommerce Minute'. John is also the host/producer of the ‘In the Ring’ podcast, a long-form podcast featuring interviews and insights from leaders in the eCommerce space.

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