How to Deal With Annoying Manager Traits: Strategies for Successful Interactions

We’ve all heard it before, “People leave their managers, not their companies.” While statistics vary, at least one recent survey shows that over half of respondents quit a job because of their boss, and an additional one-third have considered quitting because of their boss. So, yeah: People who quit jobs often actually quit their manager.

More money won’t fix, over the long term, a poor professional relationship. Some studies have found that the average cost to replace an employee is between $45-150,000. This stems from expenses associated with marketing and advertising, recruiting fees, lost productivity, and training.

At one point or another, we’ve all experienced poor management. In fact, a Gallup report found that only one in ten people possess the ability to manage. With odds like these, you’re going to have to learn how to work with bad bosses, or you’ll be changing jobs constantly. Although everyone’s ‘bad-boss’ story is a little different, there are certain management flaws synonymous with poor management.

LinkedIn highlighted research that honed in on the top five worst traits in a boss. I’ve added my personal experience with each and offered some suggestions to help an employee can deal with them. Perhaps, in this way, poor managers may learn from this.

  1. Micromanaging.
  • No one likes to feel like they’re being babysat, and that their every move is being closely watched and analyzed–it’s suffocating. Although managers may feel like they are just being helpful, the truth is, they have trust issues. A good example of this is all the talk about managing remote workers…it seems to always center around time-focus rather than measuring actual output achievement. The good news is, micromanagement can be dealt with if you’re willing to put in the work.
  • Here’s the core issue, it’s not that micromanagers won’t trust an employee, it just takes time. There’s a proving period. Until employees reach it, managers will hover and follow up closely to ensure the work is getting done correctly.
  • To beat micromanagement, either employee can keep their head down, stay focused on delivering consistent results and power through work until they gain their trust. Or, shortcut the process by being upfront and asking what it would take to earn the employer’s trust. Perhaps set up checkin points at key work dates…management by objectives that recognizes the need for expectation communication.
  • To play devil’s advocate, most managers have no idea that they’re micromanaging. It may actually take you saying something until they realize it’s an issue.
  1. Being overly critical. 
  • This is one of the tougher traits to deal with in a manager. The key is to remember that it’s not personal. Most overly critical managers are just dealing with their own insecurities surrounding risk and errors. They are so fearful of making a mistake, that they project it onto their employees in the form of criticism and judgment.
  • Because they are so risk-averse, they will over-analyze details and rules to ensure that they never miss or break one. This translates into unrealistic expectations and being overly critical.
  • One employee I talked with, stated about how terrified they were to send their manager anything because it would always come back with so much red pen that they felt incompetent. Not saying that it’s right, but once an employee gets used to the manager’s work style and demands, they should be able to anticipate the manager’s remarks and address them.
  1. Being disorganized. 
  • Being disorganized can happen for a couple of reasons. First, some managers need variety and get bored with routine or repetitive work. To keep things new, they take on multiple things at once for the sake of change and can get quickly buried by their large to-do-lists and competing priorities.
  • Second, some managers are naturally more flexible and prefer to delegate details. They choose people-facing, creative and collaborative work over managing specifics. To ensure that they have multiple opportunities to influence, they get involved in numerous projects.
  • Although this more flexible approach is fun to work with, there is a higher risk of details being missed and rules being broken due to their more uninhibited and casual style.
  • To create balance, it’s important to come to meetings with an active list of projects/priorities and to help organize those disorganized leaders using clarifying questions to ensure work stays on track.
  1. Being a ‘know-it-all.’
  • We all know someone like this. It doesn’t matter what the topic of discussion is…they’re an expert on everything. In my experience, the “know-it-all” tendency is usually a byproduct of control orientated managers. Sometimes, they just can turn off the need to drive work, control situations, and steer conversations. The ironic thing is that the less a “know-it-all” knows, the more likely they are to interject their opinions.
  • The best way to deal with an assertive manager is to avoid getting into arguments, show appreciation and acknowledge their views to defuse the situation, and don’t be afraid to provide feedback. Many “know-it-all’s” have no idea how others perceive their behavior.
  1. Not having patience. 
  • This is one of those cases where our strengths can also be our greatest liabilities. If left unchecked, skills like being proactive, results-oriented, fast-paced, and multitasking can be perceived by others as being intense, high-strung, and intolerant.
  • To survive an impatient manager, the key is to spend extra time establishing expectations and priorities. Impatience typically surfaces during times of deadlines and delays. If you can get ahead of projects and better manage expectations, you will prevent fire-drill situations.

Studies from sources like LinkedIn are excellent reminders that management skills matter and that investing in leadership development is a great strategy to increase employee satisfaction and retention.

Be sure to view the micro-thought free video entitled “Should My Management Communication Style Change?

Copyright ©John Trenary 2022. All rights reserved.

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